Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau), the congressman whose reconfigured district is the battleground in a fierce fight for the Democratic Party nomination, today criticized one of the candidates for sending out a misleading "hit piece" that wrongly implies he has the congressman's endorsement.
Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside allergist widely considered the least likely of four candidates to win the nomination, in the new 6th Congressional District, put out a two-sided mailer late this week which, on one side, makes it look as if Ackerman is backing him.
The congressman, however, has endorsed the party leadership's choice, state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing). The other candidates in the race are Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
The side of the flier that Ackerman takes issue with shows photos of him and Mittman, with the U.S. Capitol in the background. "This is what Congressman Gary Ackerman has to say about Dr. Robert Mittman," it reads in large type, before quoting the lawmaker as saying that Mittman is dedicated to his profession and the community.
Then it reads, "Bob answered the summons of a call for help and responded with the professionalism that should be the standard. For this I pay tribute to him."
What the mailer does not say is that Ackerman made the statement in relation to a specific incident that had nothing to do with the campaign.
"I know Robert Mittman," Ackerman told the Queens Chronicle today through his spokesman, Jordan Goldes. "He did a good deed by helping a woman on a plane. But I did not endorse him. Grace Meng has my unqualified support. I assume his intent was to make it look that I'm endorsing him but most people will see beyond that. He waited until the last moment to mail it — it's a hit piece."
Goldes later added in an email, "Dr. Mittman took a photo of himself and a photo of Congressman Ackerman and cut and pasted it to make it look like they were in Washington together. But they weren't. They never took that photo and they never stood in front of the Capitol."
Mittman could not be reached for comment.
Austin Finan, the spokesman for Meng's campaign, didn't offer an immediate comment.
Eric Yun, the spokesman for Crowley's campaign, said, "Throughout the last three months, Elizabeth's been talking to voters about the issues, and she's never felt the need to try to deceive people in her mailers, because the message that she's talking about is resonating with voters."
Liz Rhoades contributed to this story.