The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Phony website, email said to be work of
State Senator Ball

By R.J. MARX

An email with a video link alleging to be from 40th State Senate candidate Justin Wagner was sent to thousands of addresses in Westchester and surrounding counties this week. The video portrays Mr. Wagner as a lawyer in a firm with revenues of $1.85 billion that has defended “Guantanamo Bay detainees,” “voting for illegal aliens,” “outsourcing jobs to China” and “big insurance companies.” The video claims that the firm donated $17,000 in illegal funds to Mr. Wagner’s campaign.

Mr. Wagner said the video was in fact sent by his opponent in the race, Greg Ball, and that a bogus website, “wackywagner.com,” is also the product of Mr. Ball, and a “blatant violation” of state law.

“Greg Ball has broken the law — sending out an email this morning to constituents from a fake email address and purporting it to be from his opponent,” said Mr. Wagner’s campaign manager, Steve Napier. “In addition to criminal impersonation, it also appears Senator Ball misappropriated email information from constituents gathered in his role as a State Senator for this political hack job. The proof is clear as day: Senator Ball himself registered and is the owner of this attack website.

On Tuesday, Lucian Chalfen of the district attorney Janet DiFiore’s office said that he had not received a complaint from Mr. Wagner, although Mr. Wagner’s office had called to ask the process for doing so.

“Constituents should wonder why State Senator Greg Ball is spending his time registering political attack websites,” said Mr. Napier. “But this is the same playbook of nasty emails, robocalls and websites that Hudson Valley voters have come to expect from Greg Ball. We will work with the district attorney to investigate this matter. At the same time, we will continue to work with voters to replace this embarrassment to our community at the ballot box in November.”

On Monday night, Mr. Ball’s campaign manager Jim Coleman responded with an email titled, “Ball Campaign Responds To Extremist Wacky Wagner.”

“Evidently Wacky Wagner can’t take the heat outside of his $1,000-an-hour law firm being chummy with outsourcers, fracking companies and insurance giants,” Mr. Coleman wrote. “This threat by this extremist candidate to issue a complaint, as a campaign stunt, is itself a waste of taxpayers dollars, if not illegal. The email clearly links to a ‘Wacky Wagner’ video showing Wagner’s inherent conflicts as a candidate and, while an error was made in the email address ‘from’ column, the error was corrected and the message is clear.”

Mr. Wagner and Mr. Ball are engaged in a race for the State Senate 40th District, of which Mr. Ball is the incumbent. The district runs from Pound Ridge north to Putnam and Dutchess counties, with Westchester towns including Somers, Yorktown, Cortlandt Manor and New Castle. Bedford and North Castle, formerly in the district, are now part of the 37th State Senate District in which Democrat George Latimer and Republican Bob Cohen are running.

Mr. Wagner sent a letter to district attorney Janet DiFiore this week protesting the email. “This email, which falsely purported to be from Mr. Wagner, was clearly intended to injure Mr. Wagner’s character for political gain,” wrote Mr. Wagner’s campaign manager Stephen Napier. “The claims made at said website are false and inaccurate. Mr. Wagner is running for public office because he believes our political discourse has become too extreme and partisan — this attack is just further evidence of the truth of that belief.” The district has about 302,000 residents.

Mr. Napier said that Internet impersonation is a class A misdemeanor under New York State law. According to Mr. Napier, records show that Senator Greg Ball himself registered the website www.wackywagner.com in April 2012 and serves as its administrative contact. The email was sent by a company that identifies itself at the fictional address, “2555 E. 900 North, Indiana, I.N., 46032.” He said that public records also show that Senator Ball has set up similar websites and email addresses in the past.

In addition to criminal impersonation, Mr. Napier and Mr. Wagner are asking that the district attorney examine the misappropriation of State Senate resources.

While Mr. Coleman said the email “from” box had identified Mr. Wagner as the sender in error, Mr. Ball’s campaign manager did not address the website alleged to be created by Mr. Ball.

“Tomorrow the Ball campaign will be calling for an investigation and issue an immediate demand that Wagner fully disclose his firm’s clients, detailing the specifics of his ‘extended leave’ from his firm, which we believe may constitute an illegal campaign contribution,” said Mr. Coleman in an email. “We will give Wacky Wagner two weeks to disclose these details before filing an official complaint. At which time, the Ball Campaign will ask for a full investigation by all proper authorities if Wagner does not fully disclose any and all conflicts and illegal behavior that must be corrected.”

This is not the first email mishap from Mr. Ball. In June 2011, a South Salem husband and wife said they were “shocked and appalled as to how State Senator Greg Ball’s staff handled a letter containing medical information and other private details about their 21-year-old disabled daughter. Members of the senator’s staff distributed the letter to area newspapers, including The Record-Review, without permission via a fabricated email address. The letter was then altered for publication in the Daily News by Mr. Ball’s then-director of communications, Dan Branda.


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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

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Bedford Hills

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Katonah

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Mount Kisco

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Cross River

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