NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s former top lieutenant approved an inflammatory flyer that suggested his Democratic rival, Cynthia Nixon, was anti-Semitic, the campaign said Wednesday. And it was another former aide to the governor who crafted the mailer’s language, according to an email obtained by The New York Times.
Lawrence Schwartz, the former secretary to the governor, inadvertently signed off on the flyer after it was crafted by David Lobl, a former special assistant to the governor who was volunteering with the re-election campaign, the campaign said. Lobl drafted the language for the mailer in an email to two campaign aides, who helped create the flyer.
The correspondence, dated Sept. 1, shows Lobl outlining text that was later replicated almost verbatim in the mailer, which was sent to 7,000 households shortly before Rosh Hashana and days before Thursday’s primary.
“CN doesn’t want to fund yeshivas
CN is pro-BDS
CN has been silent on anti-Semetisim”
Lobl, who acted as a liaison to the Jewish community when he worked for Cuomo, declined to comment.
It is common for such liaisons to draft talking points and other material for campaigns. In the emails, Lobl went on to suggest that the campaign mailing include a photograph of the governor with President Reuven Rivlin of Israel, which appeared on the front side of the flyer. The email also includes mentions of the governor’s accomplishments on Jewish causes, which were also detailed on the flyer.
In a statement, Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for Cuomo’s campaign, confirmed that Lobl had written the initial email that inspired the mailer, and that Schwartz had approved it. But she said Schwartz, who was volunteering on the governor’s campaign, had approved it. But she said Schwartz had not noticed the false claims on the reverse side.
“Larry Schwartz, who serves on our campaign in a volunteer capacity, was reviewing mail pieces in an ad hoc fashion, but he only saw the positive section of the mailer and never saw the negative section,” Smith said. “Had he seen it, it would have never gone out. We have said all along that the mailer was inappropriate and a mistake and have worked with the state party to change the approval process going forward to ensure this never happens again.”
In a phone interview Wednesday evening, Schwartz, said that he was very upset by the mailers, noting that he is Jewish.
“I would have never approved that mailer to go out had I seen it in its totality,” he said. “It was totally inappropriate.”
Nixon is not Jewish, but she is raising two of her children in the Jewish faith.
The claims in the flyer were untrue, including the reference to the BDS movement, which seeks to punish Israel with boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
The flyer, which was paid for by the New York State Democratic Committee, was strongly denounced by Cuomo’s fellow Democrats. In a post on Facebook, the rabbi at the synagogue that Nixon attends, Sharon Kleinbaum, and Kleinbaum’s wife, Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote that the flyer was “beyond the pale.”
Cuomo, a Democrat seeking a third term, has denied any knowledge of the creation of the flyer, calling it a “mistake,” and not indicative of his campaign.
The Nixon campaign, noting Cuomo’s close ties to Schwartz, questioned how the governor could not have been aware of the mailer.
“The question now remains: What did the governor know about this sleazy smear attack, and why hasn’t he held anyone accountable for it?” Rebecca Katz, a senior campaign adviser, said in a statement.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.