Citizens Union rescinded its planned endorsement of Craig Caruana’s campaign for City Council last Thursday, just days after telling the Republican candidate via email that he would be receiving the group’s support.
On Oct. 21, an email was sent from Citizens Union Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Alex Camarda to Caruana, saying, “I wanted to let you know before we make it public later this week that we will be endorsing your candidacy in the race. Congratulations!”
The first-time candidate is running against City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
The endorsement was supposed to be made public last Wednesday, according to Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey. But after learning of a controversial Caruana mailer on Oct. 22 followed by a special board meeting on Thursday, CU pulled its support of Caruana, informing the Republican challenger over the phone of its decision.
“On Tuesday afternoon, this flier was brought to my attention. Several members of my board were very concerned about this new information,” Dadey said. “This special session determined that the flier, which amounted to inappropriate fear mongering targeted at immigrants, crossed the line.”
Citizens Union will not make an endorsement in the race, the only one in the city in which the government watchdog group will not back someone after evaluating the candidates.
Caruana spokesman Kevin Ryan believes that the Democrats are behind the rescinding of the endorsement, claiming that CU gave in to political arm-twisting after Council members Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem) contacted the group.
“Citizens Union has lost its integrity and caved in to the political pressures from the Crowley cronies. They stand for exactly the opposite of the non partisan reform they claim to support,” Ryan said in a statement. “Instead of standing by their decision, Citizens Union proved that they are easily influenced by political pressure.”
Dromm refused to comment on the matter.
Crowley campaign manager Joseph O’Hern responded on Tuesday by saying, “All we know is what we’ve heard being reported in the media.”
Ryan called the group’s alleged reasoning “absurd,” saying, “The mailer in question accurately points out the facts concerning Liz Crowley’s bill that prevents law enforcement officials from checking the immigration status of criminals arrested for certain offenses.”
Citizens Union issued a “no endorsement for both Mr. Caruana and Ms. Crowley,” according to a CU statement that added, “This development will result in Citizens Union taking a more thorough review of a candidate’s conduct, overall message, and use of materials going forward.”