Archive for the tag 'ari kagan'

Oberman

Oberman

The Trump Village co-op board headed by former City Council candidate Igor Oberman filed a libel suit against a tenant who established a blog to vent criticism of the board’s actions.

Oberman filed the suit against resident Yuliya Bezvoleva on behalf of the Trump Village Section 4 board last month, claiming that her website, TV4News.org, was causing financial harm by getting in the way of potential sales according to the New York Post.

The website has been active since the spring of 2012, documenting perceived violations of co-op board bylaws and other abuses. The oldest post on the site claims one boardmember was actually ineligible to hold the position, and was also bumped to the top of the list for coveted parking spaces. Such privileges for boardmembers are a frequent complaint, with another post alleging that the board used the co-op’s money to construct a personal, fenced in garage.

The site also shared news during Oberman’s 2013 campaign for City Council regarding concerns over his fundraising, which included donations from firms doing business with the board. That election ultimately saw Chaim Deutsch elected to replace Michael Nelson.

Another post took issue with co-op funds used for events on the 1,114-unit property that were open to the public. (Full disclosure: two such events, as noted on the website, were marketed with paid advertising on Sheepshead Bites. The ads were paid for by the Board.)

The lawsuit claims several of the site’s posts include false information, and specifically flags a story from October 2013 questioning why some board candidates were disqualified without explanation, and another from November of that year pointing out Housing Court cases against residents.

Oberman claims in the lawsuit that the website is scaring off potential buyers, and is also ruining his reputation.

“Several potential employers have asked me about . . . the Web site,” Oberman said in an affidavit, according to the Post. 

He declined to comment to the newspaper, but his attorney called the website’s claims “pure fabrications.”

Bezvoleva said the lawsuit is just another illustration of the board’s heavy-handed tactics against critical tenants.

“There is no freedom of speech, and there are no public meetings,” Bezvoleva told the Post. “When we do have them, we have lots of security guards. Sometimes police officers get invited to make sure nothing happens.”

Last year, as Oberman ran for Council, it was reported that the board was mired in lawsuits from former employees and critical tenants who were served eviction notices, allegedly to strengthen Oberman’s control over the board.

Bezvoleva was one of the residents fighting off an eviction notice at the time, after she launched an anti-Oberman petition drive.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

A Russian-language radio ad promoting the Republican campaign of Ben Akselrod claims credit for a project currently funded by his opponent, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

The commercial was heard airing on Davidzon Radio last week. It appears to be a paid announcement in which a supporter listed the candidate’s accomplishments, including among them that “Paths in the sand to the sea are also his work.”

Hear the ad below:

The ad, translated by three independent sources for Sheepshead Bites, appears to be highlighting Mobi-Mats, special mats on Brighton Beach and Coney Island beach that extend from the boardwalk to the water’s edge. They allow those in wheelchairs, or who suffer from other disabilities that make walking on sand difficult, to access the waterfront and are popular with the area’s senior community.

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source: assistivetech.net)

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source: assistivetech.net)

However, there appears to be no record of Akselrod working to obtain Mobi-Mats. The first set of them appeared in 2007, five years before he ever ran for office. Three new mats – two in Coney Island and one at Brighton 6th Street – were added this summer. At the time of the announcement of the expansion, Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch claimed credit for their placement.

While Treyger and Deutsch prodded the city for additional placements this summer, the only local elected officials to steer actual funding for the mats are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz – the latter of which Akselrod hopes to unseat in tomorrow’s election.

The mats that served the disabled this summer were paid for with mayoral funding, the Parks Department confirmed. A further expansion is planned with funding from Cymbrowitz and Brook-Krasny in response to the community’s need for more accessibility, said a Parks spokesperson. Those funds were part of a $10 million allocation in 2009 for repairs and general improvements of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, and the local Assembly members requested Mobi-Mats be part of the scope.

The radio announcement was made by Bella Akhmechet, a supporter of Akselrod’s who contributed to his campaign. It goes on to say that she has known the candidate for more than a decade as a “respectable and worthy person … who is not indifferent to our needs.” It touts his “distribution of humanitarian aid” after Superstorm Sandy, and notes that he is a “humble person,” urging potential voters to cast their vote for Akselrod during the campaign.

Like many campaign ads placed on Davidzon Radio, it is not explicitly labeled as an ad. However, Akselrod’s campaign paid $3,000 to Davidzon Radio on September 12 for radio advertising.

Askelrod did not return multiple requests for comment.

The candidate, a Democrat, has been actively campaigning on the Republican line following his defeat in the Democratic primary. The GOP nomination came following a write-in initiative on the Republican line that he organized as a safeguard, and he won the Republican primary with 46 votes, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites. He was recently endorsed by former Republican Congressman Bob Turner.

Although he promised to resign as president of the Bay Democrats, the local Democratic club he leads alongside 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan, he has not yet done so, according to reports.

With thanks to our readers who volunteered to translate to the advertisement.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

The race for the 45th District of the State Assembly lives on!

Ben Akselrod, a Democrat, has scored the Republican nomination for the 45th Assembly race, allowing him to continue his challenge against incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz until election day on November 4.

Akselrod, president of the Bay Democrats political club, received the most write-in votes – 46 in all – during the Republican primary, allowing him to steal the GOP line for the general election.

There were no candidates backed by the party in the primary, which would normally mean there is no primary and thus no general election candidate. But Republican voters, which sources say were organized by the Akselrod campaign, filed petitions requesting an “opportunity to ballot,” forcing the party to hold a primary to gather write-in votes. The results of the write-ins became public last week.

Steven Cymbrowitz received the second highest amount of write-in votes with 27. There were 11 more write-ins who received one vote each, and Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon snagged two write-in votes. Another 31 write-ins were illegible.

That allows Akselrod to move forward to the general election, but it’s still not clear if he’s going to actively campaign for the seat. Akselrod has not returned a request for comment.

The latest campaign filing for Akselrod shows he only has $3,986.22 on hand. Cymbrowitz, meanwhile, has $36,650.18.

Ozzie Heymann, Akselrod’s campaign manager during the primary, said he wasn’t sure of the candidate’s plans and if he’ll be involved in the general election campaign.

“I don’t know that there would be a campaign. If there would be, I assume that I would be involved. But that hasn’t been decided yet,” Heymann said.

Another close Akselrod supporter, Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, said Akselrod is unlikely to have a decision before October 15, when the Jewish holidays end. That would leave less than a month to campaign.

The development itself also puts Kagan in an awkward position. In 2012, Kagan unseated longtime district leader Michael Geller, largely on the criticism that Geller had a record of supporting Republican candidates. Now his good friend, political ally, and the chosen president of his Democratic club is running on the GOP line.

Kagan, who is openly critical of Cymbrowitz, said he will stay on the sidelines if Akselrod decides to campaign.

“I’m the Democratic district leader, a strong democrat,” said Kagan. “If [Akselrod] runs as a Republican, there’s a 99 percent chance that I will not support the Republican nominee. But that doesn’t mean I will support the Democratic nominee. I never said anywhere I would just support anyone.”

Kagan also said that he and Akselrod previously discussed the possibility that Akselrod would win the Republican line, and it comes with a consequence.

“If he decides to run on the Republican line, he’ll resign from the Bay Democrats. That’s for sure,” he said.

Despite losing the primary election to Cymbrowitz in 2012, Akselrod was able to move onto the general election on the Independence Party line. That created a three-way race with Russ Gallo as a Republican. Gallo and Akselrod combined took home just shy of 45 percent of the vote, while Cymbrowitz took 55 percent of the vote. Akselrod alone had 19 percent of the vote.

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

Conservative Democrat Ben Akselrod appears to be launching his second attempt to unseat incumbent Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, recently filing papers with the state to form a campaign committee.

Akselrod mounted his first challenge to Cymbrowitz in 2012, rising from relative obscurity to a credible candidate with the assistance of his close friend Ari Kagan. Akselrod came close to defeating Cymbrowitz in the Democratic primary, coming less than 300 votes shy of victory. He continued on to the general election on the Independence line, making it a three-way race with Republican Russ Gallo. Cymbrowitz won the general with a wide margin.

Akselrod and his supporters led a hard-knuckled campaign, in which the incumbent was criticized for not opposing a mosque just outside of his district, voting for a bill that encouraged tolerance education in schools including tolerance of homosexuals, and, just days before the primary election, marrying a woman who is not Jewish.

The race brought citywide media attention after Akselrod’s campaign released a flier with a typo claiming that the assemblyman “allowed crime to go up over 50% in the negrohood,” a claim that was factually incorrect regardless of the typo.

Cymbrowitz stayed mum for most of the campaign, leading one outlet to say he was running a “gentleman’s campaign,” but eventually spoke out against “vicious” tactics two weeks after the primary.

Although it’s widely expected, it’s still not fully clear whether Akselrod will run this year. Because of illness, he did not attend last night’s meeting of the Bay Democrats, the club where he serves as president and where he is likely to announce.

District Leader Ari Kagan, a close friend and adviser to Akselrod, told Sheepshead Bites that the papers were simply the first steps to forming an “exploratory committee” to determine whether Akselrod will run.

“He told me it’s an exploratory committee. When he decides 100 percent, he’ll have a big kickoff. Like in May, when the weather is nice,” said Kagan.

Akselrod, however, sounded very much like a candidate in an interview yesterday with Politicker, which first reported on the campaign filings.

“I certainly hope to win. Look, the status quo can’t continue forever. I think I have more energy, more desire to do the job,” Akselrod told Politicker. “There are still many problems with Hurricane Sandy recovery … It’s a year and a half later and we’re still talking about things that should have been done 15 days after the storm hit.”

Akselrod did not return a request to comment in time for publication. We’ll update this post if we here back from him.

baydems

Bay Democrats Vice President Sam Tsang, District Leader Ari Kagan, and President Ben Akselrod.

Nearly a year and a half after taking on and defeating Michael Geller, the 24-year Democratic Leader of the 45th Assemby District, Ari Kagan finally has the political club he promised his supporters.

Bay Democrats celebrated its grand opening in the headquarters of the Davidzon Radio media empire (2508 Coney Island Avenue) on Wednesday with a crowd of approximately 70 people and a lineup of elected officials showering praise on the Russian-American activist.

Club leaders hailed the event as a re-opening, pointing to the group’s October 2012 formation, when they held a celebration at the Bainbridge Center in Sheepshead Bay. Advertised as a “unity club” that spanned the area’s various ethnic and religious groups, the club’s activity petered out after Superstorm Sandy hit days later, and never had an official home until now.

Kagan said now that a home base has been established for Bay Democrats, it’s time to get down to business.

“Now that Bay Democrats has a home we can focus on the issues affecting our community. I am most optimistic because of the broad support we have from the community,” he said in a press release.

The event attracted a slew of elected officials including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblyman Bill Colton, Councilmen David Greenfield, Chaim Deutsch, Mark Treyger and former City Comptroller John Liu, among others.

The club is headed by Ben Akselrod, a conservative Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz in 2012. Chinese-American activist Sam Tsang will serve as vice president.

District leaders are party positions elected by registered voters of the party. In addition to influencing the leadership and platform of the local and state political party, they’re charged with rallying local bases in support of candidates. They do this largely through political clubs like Bay Democrats, which recruit and organize volunteers for campaign-related activities like petition-signing and preparing mailers.

While Kagan has pitched the club as a unity club, the vast majority of the attendees on Wednesday were Russian American, and the location, inside the headquarters of perhaps the largest Russian-language media empire, may offer a hint at the club’s target base.

And with leadership that includes Kagan, Akselrod and Tsang, all of whom have been critical of Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, it’s likely they’ll back a challenger to the incumbent in the Assembly primary later this year.

The group will hold weekly meetings on Wednesday nights.

Many say Davidzon (right) is only running to cause Storobin (left) to lose, but it might mean losing out on business for the media mogul.

Many say Davidzon (right) is only running to cause Storobin (left) to lose, but it might mean losing out on business for the media mogul.

A high-ranking source in the Brooklyn Republican Party is elated that Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon is throwing his hat into the ring with a surprise write-in campaign for the 48th Council District, saying that it’ll prove whether or not his support is worth paying for.

Davidzon has long held himself up as the “kingmaker” of the Russian community, a title that picked up traction in the mainstream political press after his support helped garner wins in the Russian community for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Comptroller John Liu and, most surprisingly, Congressman Bob Turner.

But the kingmaker’s power has come under doubt in the last few election cycles, having failed to earn wins for candidates he supported, including Lew Fidler in his race for State Senate against David Storobin, Ben Akselrod in his bid to unseat Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, and, most recently, Ari Kagan in his race for the 48th District Democratic primary.

The recent record has some politicos wondering if it means the power broker’s influence is ebbing.

“It’s a free poll for us,” a high-ranking source in the Republican Party leadership, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sheepshead Bites. “We can finally see how much support he’ll bring in. It’ll be a way to tell if it’s worth paying for.”

The source was referring to the consulting fees Davidzon commands in return for advertising, on-air support and Davidzon’s personal endorsement, for which candidates have been known to pay upwards of $10,000. Many have turned to the broadcaster and publisher after he gained a reputation for an almost slavish following of Russian-American seniors who vote at his whim.

That means the write-in campaign could be bad for business if Davidzon fails to garner much support in the race, as it could prove that fan-base a profitable myth.

“I’m dying to see what he can do now. If he gets two percent of the vote, it’s not worth fighting for his support anymore,” said the GOP source.

Davidzon has spent the last several days making phone calls to those in both parties seeking endorsement, having won several prominent ones already from both parties. But, our source, who was also approached, said that Davidzon disclosed that he has no hopes for winning the race, only at causing Republican contender David Storobin to lose.

“He’s acknowledged to me privately that he can’t win, but he just wants to chip away at David’s lead. There’s a bit of a rivalry right now about who really is the king of the Russians,” he said.

He added that Davidzon’s been successful at picking up the support of Republican leaders, since Storobin is on the outs with the party.

“Storobin isn’t well liked in the party right now,” the source said, noting that the party is in the midst of a civil war. [Our source is a supporter of current chairman Craig Eaton].

Still, he said he’d be withholding his support from Davidzon in favor of party loyalty.

“I can’t [support Davidzon]. There’s a Republican in the race, even if we don’t like him, we just can’t do that,” he said.

Our source isn’t the only one staying out of the fray. Republican operative Gene Berardelli, also of Craig Eaton’s Kings County Republican Party, said it’s a lose-lose to get involved.

“As a Republican, I don’t know what to make of it. On the one side, you want someone from your party to win, on the other you don’t want to offend Davidzon because he can get you votes in the future,” said Berardelli. “This is one of those situations where you just back away very slowly.”

He added that some of the support Davidzon has received, like that of Democratic Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny and Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, endorsements that have baffled Democratic Party leadership, comes from fear of losing the mogul’s support down the line.

“He’s one of those guys where you go against him, and you offend him, he will never forget,” said Berardelli, noting the Brook-Krasny faces reelection next year.

davidzon

Davidzon

Proclaimed “Kingmaker” of the Russian-American community Gregory Davidzon has announced a write-in campaign for the 48th District of the City Council, a seat currently occupied by term-limited Michael Nelson, and for which three prominent candidates are already vying.

Davidzon announced his campaign during an hour-long segment on his radio station, Davidzon Radio, yesterday, touting his experience as a “successful businessman and community leader.” He hopes to beat out two other Russian-American candidates, Republican David Storobin and Working Families’ Igor Oberman, and Democrat Chaim Deutsch, an Orthodox Jew.

Support for the candidates in the race has largely been split along ethnic lines.

“I realize that this is an unusual undertaking, however, I was encouraged by many members of the community − ordinary residents and political leaders − to run. While I do have the backing of elected officials from both political parties, I made it clear to them that I always have been and will remain independent; focused fully on what is best for the community and the people,” Davidzon said in a press release.

Davidzon is not a member of any political party, and is not registered to vote.

The owner of a Russian-language radio station and newspaper, Davidzon said the issues he hopes to promote include public safety and quality education, saying he supports “school choice.” In his press release, he spoke out against taxes, as well as fines, fees and other charges the city has been using to drum up revenues.

The write-in candidate is no lark: he’s already garnered the support of District Leader Ari Kagan, who lost the Democratic bid in the race to Deutsch. Kagan is also an employee of Davidzon’s. Other surprise endorsements include that of Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, and various Democratic and Republic district leaders from around the area.

His Democratic Party-backed opponent, Deutsch, shied away from commenting on the development.

“We’re not interested in talking about our opponents,” a spokesperson for Deutch told YWN. “What we’re interested in is talking to the residents of southern Brooklyn and listening to their concerns about the critical quality of life issues the district faces and how to best address them.”

Storobin, meanwhile, was more forthright, predicting that Davidzon is unlikely to garner more than 100 votes in the race.

“I will make a bet with anyone that he will not break 100 votes,” Storobin told Politicker. “Davidzon has almost the highest negatives of any person in the Russian community, by far the highest negatives.”

Of course, there’s little love lost between Davidzon and Storobin. Davidzon backed Storobin’s opponent, Lew Fidler, in his State Senate race last year, and spilled much Russian-language vitriol on-air about the Republican candidate, spurring an FCC complaint from the candidate.

That’s why some observers believe it’s an attempt to undermine Storobin by dividing the Russian-American community, the largest voting bloc in the district, even further.

“This proves there’s still major bad blood between Storobin and Gregory,” a Brooklyn Democratic source told Politicker. “It’s nothing more than Gregory doing what he can to prevent Storobin from winning.”

Council candidate Ari Kagan

Ari Kagan

Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan officially conceded the Democratic primary race to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson last week, thanking his supporters and vowing to stay active in the community.

Kagan held off on his concession for nearly two weeks, waiting for the official, post-recanvassing vote tallies to be released by the Board of Elections in the hopes that he might pick up the 300 votes needed to overtake the presumed winner, Chaim Deutsch. But as recanvassing wrapped up, Kagan came in just shy of 3,000 votes, not enough to upset the victory.

On Monday, he released the following statement to his supporters:

Dear Friend,

Once again, I wanted to thank you for the tremendous support you gave my campaign. Hundreds of people from throughout our community donated money and volunteered their time to help our efforts. I am truly grateful to each and everyone one of you who pitched in.

The Board of Elections has finally finished counting all the absentee and affidavit ballots cast in our race. In total, we received nearly three thousand votes,earning impressive support in every neighborhood in this incredibly diverse district. Unfortunately, we’re still a few hundred votes short of winning this race.

While I am deeply disappointed that I will not be the Democratic nominee for City Council in the 48th District, I am incredibly proud of the campaign we ran. Over the past six months, we ran a positive race, highlighting important issues facing southern Brooklyn – including Sandy recovery, upgrading our local infrastructure, improving schools and public transportation, helping small business owners, protecting the rights of co-op shareholders and preserving services for our seniors.

I couldn’t have done this without you. Words cannot adequately describe how proud I am to have your friendship and support. I look forward to continuing to be a strong voice on the issues that matter to our communities as a Democratic District Leader, journalist and community activist. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 Sincerely,
Ari

Since releasing the statement last week, Kagan said he has resumed his responsibilities as community liaison to Comptroller John Liu. He has also gone back to his show with the Russian Television Network, with his first broadcast hitting airwaves this Friday – as well as his newspaper and radio work.

Kagan said he has not yet endorsed anyone else in the 48th District race, saying that he will soon and will campaign hard for that person.

“If I make an endorsement of any candidate, I will campaign with that candidate. Who will believe my endorsement if it’s just an endorsement on paper?” he told Sheepshead Bites.

Although Kagan declined to say who he would support, the likely target of his endorsement is Chaim Deutsch. Kagan was a vocal critic of Igor Oberman, who is running on the Working Families Party line, and who Kagan recently blamed for helping undermine his campaign. He’s equally unlikely to endorse Republican David Storobin, having won his campaign for district leader in 2012 on the premise that the 24-year incumbent, Michael Geller, had a history of endorsing Republicans.

Asked why he hasn’t already come out in favor of Deutsch or another candidate, Kagan said it’s a matter of timing.

“I already had a conversation and congratulated [Deutsch] on his victory. Look, I need some time, that’s all I’m saying. Don’t jump in front of everybody,” he said.

Council candidate Ari Kagan

Ari Kagan

Following our report last week about potential voter suppression in the 48th Councilmanic District primary, in which a defeated Ari Kagan suggested Democratic candidate Igor Oberman had undermined the Russian-American vote in order to benefit Republican David Storobin, Kagan has now self-published a roster of allegations against the duo, claiming their negative tactics contributed to his narrow defeat to Chaim Deutsch.

Here’s the cliff notes, with some notes from us in italics. It’s broken up into three part – allegations about Oberman’s campaigning, allegations about his association with Storobin, and complaints about anonymous attacks which he loosely ties to Oberman and Storobin:

Oberman’s negative campaign:

  • Oberman spent most of his time, effort and money “to attack” Kagan
  • Oberman produced a “disgusting” TV commercial saying he accepted $200,000 from Manhattan developers to destroy affordable housing an rent regulations. A “Secret Mission” mailer went out with the same. (A developer-backed PAC spent about that much trying to influence this election in favor of Kagan, which surely is fair game for criticism. However, Kagan didn’t “accept” any money, nor could he coordinate with the PAC, making the claim a little deceptive. From what we’re hearing in multiple campaigns, the PAC backed candidates supported by the county Democratic club and did not actually evaluate their candidates)
  • Oberman booked a radio commercial saying a “journalist cannot run for City Council – only a lawyer can.” (This is the first we’ve heard of this. Can anyone confirm?)
  • Oberman sent a mailer claiming Kagan was part of the Communist Party. (That happened. And Kagan was part of the Communist Party. Which, I think, is kind of a prerequisite to being politically active in a communist system, no?)
  • Oberman said that Kagan never denied the allegations that he was once a KGB agent. (Kagan claims he did, and points out that as an aide to Congressman McMahon he needed to pass a security clearance.)

Oberman – Storobin connection

  • Oberman is a “close social friend” with Storobin (Storobin denied this to Sheepshead Bites, saying they’ve never been to each other’s birthday parties.)
  • Storobin made claims that Kagan was incompetant, lazy, solicited bribes, and “I have no brain.” According to Kagan, these claims were repeated by Oberman. (We have not seen materials to back this up.)
  • “On September 9, 2013, at 3 p.m. they came together to Brighton 6 Street building to criticize me there.”
  • A previous employee of a Storobin campaign distributed palm cards for Oberman near the Shorefront Y on election day.
  • Both repeated accusations against me almost verbatim at their radio appearances.

Anonymous activities

  • There were four separate robo-call campaigns with a female voice saying, in Russian, “Don’t vote Kagan, he was a KGB agent.” (I don’t know about four calls, but we did hear these calls went out.
  • There was an anonymous literature drop in Brighton Beach saying that Kagan never worked a full-time job and “no elected officials wanted to hire me.” Kagan says this was likely done by Storobin, who had previously made the same attack against him. He also pointed out that he was offered full-time work for Comptroller Liu, but turned it down. (We can’t verify that.)
  • Other attacks made by Storobin also appeared in anonymous Russian language fliers.
  • An anonymous robo-call went out on Rosh Hashanah purporting to be from the Kagan campaign with the goal of putting off Jewish voters.
  • A flier was distributed with photos of Kagan with Senator Eric Adams and Coney Island activist Sophia Williams, both African American, with Russian text that said, “Don’t vote for Ari Kagan! He is supported by Obama socialists!” Kagan described this as “racist.”
  • Postcards were mailed telling voters in Russian that their poll site had changed to a non-existent location.

Here’s how Kagan sums the whole things up: “The bottom line is simple – attacks by Mr. Oberman and Mr. Storobin as well as anonymous calls, flyers and fake post cards played an important role in my defeat.”

Why?

“Their goal was clear – to prevent me from winning the Democratic nomination, so Mr. Storobin would run against non-Russian in a heavily Russian district.”

These are some pretty intense allegations. But, at the moment, the evidence is only circumstantial.

We look forward to seeing some hard proof of who was behind some of the more despicable acts, like the apparent attempt at voter suppression.

One of the false poll site change postcards sent out to Russian speaking voters, according to Ari Kagan.

One of the false poll site change postcards sent out to Russian speaking voters, according to Ari Kagan.

Ari Kagan, who narrowly lost his bid for the Democratic nod during last week’s primary, is alleging that dirty campaigning from a rival candidate and an anonymous trickster helped bring down his candidacy, and has offered up evidence that suggests an effort to suppress the Russian vote in the 48th District.

According to Kagan, thousands of Russian-language postcards went out to voters of the 48th District, telling them that their poll site had been changed to a non-existent poll site in another district. Kagan said he found out about the dirty trick the night before the primaries as phone calls from supporters began trickling in to his campaign office as well as to his radio show on Davidzon Radio. He has since collected several dozen of them and supplied a copy of the one above to Sheepshead Bites.

It reads:

Information for election
Announcement
Change location of your election site
Your new:
Co-op 2475 West 16th Street

The location given is actually in the 47th District, and there is no poll site there. Some voters as far away as Avenue O in Midwood received these, and all were in Russian language. They were sent from a Manhattan post office.

Now, Kagan is demanding the authorities look into the matter.

“It needs investigation. It’s a federal crime. We’re not talking about five people, 10 people. I realized how big a crime it was when people began calling me, my friends, my campaign office asking about their polling site,” he said, noting that he tried to minimize the damage by doing a robocall and a segment on his radio show informing voters that cards had gone out with false poll site information.

Kagan was not alone in his outrage.

“It’s absolutely reprehensible and I condemn any effort to intentionally mislead voters. We have to encourage people to be involved in the political process,” said Chaim Deutsch, who won Tuesday’s primary.

“This act was a violation of everything we hold dear in our country,” added Theresa Scavo, who finished in third. “Whoever did this criminal act took away certain individuals’ right to vote and may have caused an upset in the election process. The potential voters could have been on their way to vote for any of the candidates on the slate, maybe me. There should be a thorough investigation and justice must be served.”

The postcards lack a return address and any identifying information, so they’ll be hard to trace back to a source.

Kagan, though, said he suspects his fellow Russian-American candidate, Igor Oberman.

“I suspect it was the campaign that focused during the last week totally on me and not on the district. I suspect the campaign that was the dirtiest in all my memory. That would be Igor Oberman, who ran a divisive, nasty, dirty campaign,” Kagan told Sheepshead Bites. “But this is a suspicion, I have to prove it.”

When asked for comment about the postcards and Kagan’s allegations, Oberman’s campaign offered the following statement: “Neither the campaign nor Igor Oberman have any knowledge of voter suppression tactics of any kind used during the Primary Campaign in the 48th District City Council race.”

Kagan said he believes it’s Oberman because Oberman is the only campaign that went negative, and focused all of its attack ads on Kagan and no other candidate. He cited the CFB complaints we previously reported on, as well as misleading ads taken out by the Oberman campaign alleging Kagan would eliminate Section 8 housing and rent stabilization. He said Oberman booked no such attack ads against other candidates in the race, and none of the other candidates had negative ads at all.

While it would appear that a suppression of Russian-American voters would hurt Oberman as much as Kagan, however, Kagan pointed out that Russians appear to have voted for Kagan over Oberman at a rate of five to one. He suspects that Oberman’s campaign was not aiming to be victorious, but rather to keep a Russian-speaking candidate off the Democratic ballot in order to benefit Republican candidate David Storobin, who Kagan said Oberman is friends with.

The allegation echoes that recently made by Councilman Lew Fidler, who claimed Oberman was a “mole” for Storobin, and had passed the Republican details of Fidler’s campaign strategy while volunteering for him during the 2012 special election in which Storobin and Fidler faced off.

Oberman declined to respond to the charge, but Storobin dismissed it outright.

“That’s completely false. It’s preposterous on so many fronts. First of all, I wish I was that charismatic to get them to throw themselves under the bus for me, but I don’t think I am,” he said. “I think the logical suggestion is that it would be one of the non-Russian candidates in the race, because it’s targeting Russian votes.”

He added that he and Oberman are not friends, but merely friendly acquaintances, although he did not account for why the Democrat contributed to his recent State Senate campaign.

He also said Oberman’s campaign did not bare the marks of one that was attempting to split the Russian vote, with the candidate having focused his spending on younger Russians and non-Russians, rather than the elderly Russians that comprise Kagan’s base.

“You can follow the money trail with most things, and the money trail shows he wasn’t going after Ari’s base. He was going after the young Russians and non-Russians. The amount of money he spent on Russian media was less than 10 percent. It defies all logic,” he said.

Kagan’s argument also appears weakened by the announcement this morning that Oberman would continue his campaign as a third party candidate, which would most likely detract from Storobin’s support from the Russian community.

Prior to the announcement, though, Kagan remained convinced.

“Do I believe [Oberman] was doing it for Storobin? I have a lot of reasons to suspect this. A lot of reasons . And of course, both of them will deny it,” he said. “Igor Oberman served his purpose. He bashed Ari Kagan, and he took some votes away from Ari Kagan. That’s why Storobin didn’t bash Oberman or anyone else. Just me, me, me,” he said, referring to Storobin’s lone attack during the entire campaign.

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