State Sen. Jack Martins’ campaign complained that Thomas Suozzi, his Democratic congressional opponent, “invented” quotes in his new TV ad and the spot did not follow federal disclosure rules.
E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ spokesman, said he initially complained to Altice USA Monday that Suozzi’s ad did not properly include a Federal Communications Commission printed disclaimer that he approved the ad and who paid for it. Suozzi and his mother, Marge, approved the spot verbally in the ad itself.
Murray said he made a follow-up complaint to Altice Tuesday morning that Suozzi’s ad also used two quotes that were attributed to The New York Times, but never appeared as Suozzi said in October 2013.
Murray said he received an email reply Tuesday afternoon from Altice USA that the ad would be pulled by Wednesday over the disclaimer issue. Altice USA spokeswoman Lisa Anselmo said Tuesday night that the company “had no immediate details” about the ad issue. Altice USA owns a 25 percent stake in Newsday Media Group.
“Once again, Tom Suozzi broke the rules and got caught . . . making up phantom newspaper quotes,” said Murray. “This is just more of the same old Tom Suozzi that voters repeatedly rejected: One set of rules for him and another for everyone else.”
The Suozzi campaign called the complaint overblown. The campaign said the ad has been corrected and will not need to be shelved.
Kim Devlin, Suozzi’s strategist, said, “Throughout his career, Tom’s record as a reformer has been recognized by many publications, including The New York Times, Newsday and New York magazine. The wrong publication was accidentally listed and has been corrected.”
A Suozzi campaign spokesman said the disclaimer has been changed. The problem occurred because federal rules changed this year, mandating a written disclaimer in all ads, while in the past it was only required in spots that attacked opponents, the spokesman said.
The “reform-minded” quote in the TV spot, Suozzi aides say, should have been attributed to a New York magazine article from July 2006. They said Times and Newsday articles have referred to Suozzi as a reformer.
A second quote used in the Suozzi ad was similar, but not exactly the same as the one the Times used in its August 2006 gubernatorial primary endorsement of Eliot Spitzer. The original quote was that Suozzi’s “kind of gumption is rarer.” Suozzi’s ad used a quote that states “Suozzi’s kind of gumption is rare.” A spokesman said that quote was also fixed.
Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, ran unsuccessfully against Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006.
Suozzi, meanwhile, has scheduled two town hall meetings next week. One on the economy, jobs and taxes will be held Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck. Another meeting on substance abuse and mental health policy will be held Sept. 22 at VFW Post 3211 in Hicksville.
Suozzi is the Democratic nominee in the 3rd Congressional District race. Martins faces Philip Pidot in a special Oct. 6 Republican primary.