A ruling from the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee late yesterday said it was accurate to call Republican Senate candidate Bob Cohen a “slumlord” in an mailing sent out by Democrats.
Cohen, a New Rochelle businessman who owns buildings in New York City, has come under fire in recent years for the poor condition of his properties. The Daily News reported that the city officials went to court at least five times since 1998 on issues with Cohen’s buildings, including gambling and drug operations.
Cohen has defended his management, saying the charges are overblown and that he has repaired blighted properties. He faces Assemblyman George Latimer, D-Rye, for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, D-Mamaroneck.
Democrats hailed the ruling.
“Slumlord Bob Cohen has a problem telling the truth. First he spent months lying about George Latimer, then Slumlord Bob lied again to hide his own shameful record,” said Latimer spokesman Mike Murphy in a statement “Now we know the truth – based upon the totality of the information and documentation submitted, the Fair Campaign Practices Committee felt that there is sufficient documentation for the use of the word ‘slumlord.’”
There was no immediate comment from Cohen’s campaign. Cohen yesterday received the endorsement of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Cohen narrowly lost to Oppenheimer two years ago—when his apartments first became a campaign issue.
Updated: Cohen’s campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly ripped the ruling.
“It was a ridiculous ruling. Bob Cohen took buildings that were literally falling apart and turned them into safe, clean homes for hundreds of New York families,” O’Reilly said. “Many of these buildings are upwards of 100 years old. Violations happen, but Bob fixes them promptly like any good landlord does. Bob’s own children live in his buildings; for George Latimer to call him a ‘slumlord’ is viscous campaigning at its worst.”
The committee generally sided with Democrats over the accuracy of the mailer. It did, however, say that the mailer saying that “Bob Cohen violated state law” was an unfair campaign practice and that there was “insufficient evidence produced of a conviction or finding” that he did so.