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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 4, 2010
After fake flyer attack, Redlich says he won’t run again
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND Warren Redlich says he won’t run for public office again.
The Libertarian candidate for governor, Redlich said on Monday he is not willing to subject his family to vicious, negative attacks again. His first priority is his family, especially his two young daughters. At his election night event, his youngest, a toddler, clutched his leg and said goodnight, to which he replied, “Goodnight sweetie-bear.”
Redlich was disappointed on Tuesday, that, according to yesterday’s unofficial election results, he didn’t get the 50,000 votes he needed to put the Libertarian Party on the ballot permanently; with 97 percent of the polls reporting, Redlich unofficially received 44,800 votes.
But, he’d said before the results came in that he wouldn’t run again. “The mailer was very painful for my family,” he said.
A flyer was circulated last week mimicking a police warning, labeling Redlich as a sexual predator. It calls him a “sick twisted pervert,” and references a blog post he made in 2008 after pictures of Miley Cyrus caused controversy; he wrote that he could see why some people would be upset with the photos, but he couldn’t understand why it was such a big story.
The flyer that was distributed across the state says that Redlich was “running as a libertine candidate for governor, openly mocking law enforcement.” It urges people to call the police if they see him anywhere near a public school, in the neighborhood, or near a family.
“We take our sex offender registry very seriously, and we have told people that have contacted us that the recent mailer was just a political flyer,” said Carol Lawlor, chief of the Guilderland Police Department. She said the list of registered sex offenders in Guilderland is available on the town website, and people can come to the town hall to look through the registry.
Redlich has never been arrested or charged with any sex crime. His campaign message was to reduce the layers of government, and stop wasting money.
“I think I have an effective message that I delivered with consistency and frequency,” Redlich told The Enterprise earlier this week. “The fact that somebody would send such an incredibly vicious mailer, I did not see that coming,” he said.
The flyer identifies its sender as “People for a Safer New York,” a group that is not registered with the New York State Board of Elections. According to state law, a group that spends more than $1,000 on campaign literature must file with the board of elections, but a formal complaint has to be filed before the board can investigate. If a group is found to be distributing literature without filing, the penalty is a fine of up to $500.
Redlich said he doesn’t plan to file a claim. He said, “I don’t think filing a claim with the Board of Elections would have any meaning.” He added, “I don’t want to talk about filing a suit.” He sent a notice to the media on Friday not to cover the flyer story
because that would “reward the criminals.”
On the same day that the flier about Redlich appeared in mailboxes, a flier about Independent candidate Kristin Davis was also distributed; the flier called Davis the “real” Libertarian candidate. Davis, who describes herself as an ex-madam who supplied call girls for Governor Eliot Spitzer, originally sought the Libertarian line, but it went to Redlich instead.
Davis focused her campaign on the legalization of marijuana, prostitution, and gay marriage, and, according to the unofficial results, received 22,871 votes. Davis’s campaign manager, Andrew Miller, took messages for The Enterprise, but no calls were returned over the course of a week.
The chairman of the Libertarian Party, Mark Axinn, told The Enterprise that, though he knew Davis personally, Redlich won the nomination because his ideals most embodied those of a Libertarian. He called Redlich’s campaign the “most successful Libertarian petition ever.”
The party, founded in 1971, says, “Libertarians believe in the American heritage of liberty, enterprise, and personal responsibility.” Its national platform advocates a “free market” approach to health care and retirement security, and says foreign policy should “seek an American peace with the world.”
The Libertarian Party has 250,000 members nationwide. In the 10 presidential races since the party was founded, the highest popular vote for the Libertarian candidate was just over 1 percent.
The part made a splash statewide in 1994 when it nominated shock jock Howard Stern for governor; his supporters hoped he could attract enough voters to gain permanent ballot access. His detractors termed his run an embarrassing publicity stunt. Stern dropped out of the race because he didn’t want to comply with state financial disclosure laws.
“I didn’t like the whole idea of filing,” he wrote in his book, Miss America. “Hey, I was a Libertarian.”
Axinn said this week of Redlich,“I am terribly chagrined and saddened that his family had to be put through this by politicians who see us as a threat.”
Both the Redlich and Davis flyers originated from the Staten Island Post Office, and have the same permit number. A representative of the post office said that a postal permit can’t be used by two separate groups or individuals, unless the owner of the permit gives authorization.
Redlich said he believes the flyer that falsely accuses him is linked to the Davis campaign, and her campaign consultant, Roger Stone. Stone is a Republican political consultant, known nationally for his roles in the elections of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. He famously has a tattoo of Nixon on his back. In addition to being Davis’s strategist, Stone was also involved in Republican Carl Paladino’s gubernatorial campaign.
“Campaign consultants are the reason people hate politics. Their mission is to get people not to vote. People will become so disgusted that they won’t vote,” Redlich said. He said he believed Davis’s true purpose was to draw votes away from Democrat front-runner, and ultimate victor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
“This Roger Stone guy is working on both campaigns. Davis’s campaign manager is on Paladino’s payroll. I’m a complication, and hurt Paladino,” Redlich said, as a potential reason behind the damaging flier.
“Politically, I think it was a dumb move, because the general reaction was clearly disgust. It was also mailed to people who weren’t aware of me, which gave me some name recognition,” said Redlich.
“It was very hurtful, it’s very clear the purpose was personal; they were trying to hurt me, my wife, and my children, and they succeeded,” he said. The “nastiness” is not just limited to gubernatorial candidates, it applies to all levels of election, said Redlich.
Redlich himself has been accused of some campaign smear tactics. He owns a website under the name of Christine O’Donnell, the unsuccessful Libertarian and Republican candidate for the United States Senate in Delaware. Up until a few days ago, Redlich had a tab on the website labeled “Christine O’Donnell nude.” The page did not contain nude photos of O’Donnell, but rather an image of an unidentified woman who bore some similarity to her, in a bikini-type costume.
Redlich said the purpose of the website was not political and had nothing to do with O’Donnell’s campaign. He obtained websites under various politicians’ names by waiting until their ownership of the domain names lapsed, and buying them at auction. Owning the websites, he said, was beneficial to his web business.
“I didn’t even know O’Donnell was going to run again when I bought the domain name, nor did I know she was going to become somewhat famous,” said Redlich. At first, he kept the content on the website roughly the same as it was when O’Donnell had owned it, but, when she realized she had lost ownership of the site, she filed a complaint with GoDaddy, the web hosting company, citing copyright infringement. O’Donnell’s campaign did not return calls to The Enterprise.
Redlich said he had two options he could let the web hosting company take the website down for two weeks while it investigated the claim, or he could change the content of the site. He chose the latter option.
“When she decided to run again, I realized the website was getting a lot of hits, and I was actually making some money off of it through the use of Google Ads,” he said. The nude photo link was an “experiment” to see how many people were Google-searching “Christine O’Donnell nude,” said Redlich.
“In the end, I don’t think the Internet did very much damage to anyone’s campaign. I was surprised at what little impact the Internet had,” he said.
However, Gawker, a website that describes itself as containing “gossip from Manhattan and the Beltway to Hollywood and Los Angeles” had an effect on O’Donnell’s campaign, after an unsigned paid article was published, detailing a man’s one-night stand with her.
Redlich ran an extensive Internet campaign, with lots of advertising on Facebook and YouTube, and said that he didn’t think it was very effective.
“Smear campaigns on the Internet are personally damaging, but don’t play a large role in the outcome of the election,” Redlich said.
Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, told The Enterprise in 2009, after Redlich had bought a website containing Guilderland Supervisor Kenneth Runion’s name, that the Internet has moved to the center stage in politics.
“It’s safe to say that, over the past decade, the Internet has gone from the periphery of politics to center stage. Most experts will tell a politician to buy up any domain names that could be associated with them, even the negative ones,” Rainie said.
According to Rainie, no self-respecting politician can afford not to have a web presence.
“Slander and smear have always existed,” Lainie said. “The Internet is just a new pathway for it.”
The old-style means of smearing, like election flyers, left Redlich uncertain this week as to their effect. He said he couldn’t be sure what, if any, effect the negative campaign flyer had on his election results.
After Redlich was elected to the Guilderland Town Board three years ago, the town’s grant writer, Donald Csaposs, drew attention to articles Redlich had written on The Spoof, a satiric news website. Csaposs called the articles, a handful of which centered on young celebrities, “patently offensive” and “the product of a disturbed mind.”
“I would have made every effort to use it to keep him from sitting up on that dais,” Csaposs said in 2008, when he found the articles after the town board election was over.
Runion called the articles “offensive and degrading,” and said he thought residents should be calling for Redlich’s resignation.
Redlich said this week he didn’t believe there was any local input to the recent flyer.
“I’m disappointed. I had hoped to get more votes. I thought we were going to do better than we did,” Redlich said on election night. The official results, after the absentee and military votes are counted, won’t be in for weeks, and Redlich said he still hopes he can top the 50,000 mark.
“I will be satisfied that I achieved my goal if I get the 50,000 votes,” he said. Although he won’t run for office again, he said he hopes to be a leader, behind the scenes, in the Libertarian Party going forward.
“I really believe that the Republican and Democratic insiders have let us down,” Redlich concluded. “The third parties need more attention.”