Corruption charges, ballot challenges overshadow state Senate race


Allegations of dirty tricks are running rampant in the Democratic primary for the state Senate’s 33rd District.

Though Gustavo Rivera, incumbent Pedro Espada Jr. and Community Board 8’s Dan Padernacht all had their candidacies certified last week, that has not stopped the battle over petition signatures from raging on.

Gustavo Rivera’s campaign sent out a letter to supporters on Aug. 5, saying that Mr. Espada’s campaign had been mailing letters that used “intimidating language,” to people who signed petitions to put Mr. Rivera on the ballot.

The letter allegedly sent by the Espada campaign was titled, “Notice of Legal Information Warning” and was dated July 31.

It asks whether the recipient signed a petition for Mr. Rivera, and if not, urged calling the Ballot Integrity Unit of the Concerned Citizens for Good Government, with no further information on the group. The bottom of the letter said the mailing was paid for by New Yorkers for Espada.

Ross Frommer, a Riverdale resident, said he received one of the letters after his wife collected his signature for Mr. Rivera’s campaign.

“I was offended by it. I was interested in where was this coming from,” Mr. Frommer said.

Mr. Frommer said when he called the number given, the phone was answered by a person who said “New Yorkers for Espada,” to whom he explained that his signature was collected legally. On Monday, a call to the same number was answered by a person who said he worked for a company charged with investigating fraudulent signatures, but would not say more.

Franck LaBoy, a spokesman for Mr. Espada, said he knew nothing about Concerned Citizens for Good Government.

The subsequent letter sent out by Mr. Rivera’s campaign said mailings were only one tactic being used by Mr. Espada’s campaign. Individuals, described as “large and ‘thuggish,” had been visiting the homes of petitioners and asking “prying questions,” it said.

Both letters are posted in full on and the Riverdale Ramblings blog.

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