I received an email from Charlie Brown, chair of the city Democratic Party saying:
“The Saratoga PAC, and it’s Republican endorsed candidates, have been conducting the most negative campaign [Brown’s emphasis] that Saratoga Springs has ever experienced.”
He then directs you to a video in which supporters of Joanne Yepsen repeat over and over that her opponent lies and will do anything to win. Yepsen Campaign Ad
Those of us who lived through the decades of utter Republican dominance in this city, and in particular the odious chairmanship of John Roohan, have a different perspective. As just one example, when the late Betsy Davis courageously ran for Supervisor the Republicans sent out a crude cartoon of her throwing dollar bills at people on welfare.
I think it is quite clear from this blog that I am no supporter of John Safford but he has nevertheless run one of the more “transparent” campaigns I have seen in this city. He has publically embraced the PAC. He has made clear his unambiguous support for Saratoga National Golf Course’s expansion plans. He has publically characterized the greenbelt as an obstacle to growth. He has made crystal clear his opposition to the goals and efforts of Sustainable Saratoga. He has engaged this blog in candid statements about his thinking on important public issues.
There is a bitter irony that Ms. Yepsen’s video reproduces the very qualities that it condemns. The nameless persons allege that the recent Safford mailing “contains false claims.” It then repeats over and over that “her opponent” lies. It alleges that her campaign is financed by small donors. Ms. Yepsen then accuses “her opponent” of saying or doing anything to win.
First, the mailing that is referred to presents Mayor Yepsen as having raised $247,190.00 from PACs in large bold letters. In smaller but quite readable text it notes that the donations covered the period since 2005. It references the records of the New York State Board of Elections as the source. Now it would be fair to say that this ad distorts the record but to characterize it as lies is itself a lie. Ms. Yepsen also claims in the ads that her campaign donations came from small donors as compared to Mr. Safford’s. In fact, in an earlier post representing the existing data, I found that of the declared donations of $44,500.00 raised by Ms. Yepsen, $33,500.00 came from donations of $250.00 or more and $29,950.00 came from donations of $500.00 or more. That is respectively seventy-five percent of her donations and sixty-six percent of her donations. Personally, given the finances of most people I think $250.00 is a pretty significant donation let alone $500.00 to a $1000.00.
In Yepsen’s previous campaign against Shauna Sutton for Mayor, just before the election, a mailing was done that accused Sutton of receiving many thousands of dollars for her role as trustee of the Greenridge Cemetary. Unlike the Safford advertisement about Yepsen’s donations, this ad failed to acknowledge that the income was over many years. The League of Women Voters actually reviewed the ad and found it violated fair campaign standards. At the time Ms. Yepsen blamed the County Democratic Party that paid for the advertisement. The idea that the County Democratic chair would have done something like this without her knowledge and involvement begs credibility.
I think it would be unfortunate if Mr. Safford were to win because I think he would extend Scott Johnson’s policy of stacking our land use boards with representatives of the real estate and construction industry. It is the height of hypocrisy, however, to be blind to the kind of dubious campaign practices that Ms. Yepsen’s recent video represents.