BY JACKSON CHEN | Brooklyn City Councilmember David Greenfield, citing repeated anti-Semitic statements by Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a Democratic primary candidate for the District 7 Council seat, has called on the Manhattan Democratic Committee to remove him from the party’s rolls.
Lopez-Pierre, meanwhile, has compounded controversies surrounding his attacks on the Jewish community and other race-baiting comments, with admissions of lying, scamming, and lying about scamming.
So far the county Democratic organization has been non-committal about ejecting Lopez-Pierre – who is seeking election to the Upper West Side-Harlem-Washington Heights district – but has attacked his rhetoric as well as that of a Republican mayoral hopeful, while criticizing the media for covering both candidates.
The latest media firestorm over Lopez-Pierre’s campaign came in an April 26 New York Post article, which reported he had claimed credit for a GoFundMe campaign that raised $5,871 and was purportedly launched to stop his hate rhetoric. The Post quoted the candidate as saying he created the GoFundMe page, explaining it was a “bait and switch” effort to foil his opponents.
“I intend to use the money to pay for my marketing expenses,” Lopez-Pierre said in the Post article. “The people who are doing this [donating] oppose me. I thank them for their support.”
But in an interview with Manhattan Express, Lopez-Pierre claimed he lied to the Post about having anything to do with the GoFundMe campaign — the proceeds of which have since been frozen and are under investigation, the fundraising website’s spokesperson, Bobby Whithorne, told the Post.
“The reason why I lied to the Post was because I hate the Post,” Lopez-Pierre told Manhattan Express, adding the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper is not “real journalism.”
“I wanted to cause diffusion in this whole anti-Thomas Lopez-Pierre mobilization,” he said.
The GoFundMe incident emerged just one day after Greenfield, on April 25, called on the Manhattan Dems to oust Lopez-Pierre from the party under the terms of New York State election law, which authorizes removal of a member for “disloyalty to the party or corruption in office.”
“There’s no question that Lopez-Pierre’s campaign is based on good, old-fashioned, virulent anti-Semitism,” Greenfield said in a written release. “It is incumbent on our party leadership to oust him immediately and to make clear to all New Yorkers that Lopez-Pierre’s values are not Democratic values.”
He added, “Quite frankly, if Lopez-Pierre wants to run for City Council he should do so by petitioning his way onto the Ku Klux Klan Party.”
Responding to the call for his ejection, Lopez-Pierre said Greenfield was using him “as an excuse to raise political campaign contributions from the real estate industry.”
Reprising themes he has employed against the incumbent city councilmember he is challenging, Mark Levine – which sparked the charges of anti-Semitism in the first place – Lopez-Pierre said of Greenfield, “We have a councilman of Jewish descent who is demanding the expulsion of a black Latino man from the Democratic Party. This reminds us of the days of Nazi Germany when party members had to take loyalty oaths or be expulsed from the party.”
The Manhattan Democratic Committee has received Greenfield’s request, according to the committee’s executive director, Barry Weinberg, who added it is consulting with lawyers to see if there is a legal route for removing Lopez-Pierre.
In a statement Weinberg forwarded to Manhattan Express, Keith L.T. Wright, the county leader and a former longtime member of the State Assembly, said, “Mr. Lopez-Pierre does not have the support of the New York County Democratic Committee in any race for any office. His anti-Semitic vitriol is despicable and appalling, and I fully condemn it. His antics over many years have received no traction with any members of our community on the Upper West Side or Harlem. He is a deeply troubled man, and I do not intend to fuel his disgusting campaign by giving him any more undeserved attention beyond this statement.”
Wright also suggested the media may be giving undue attention to Lopez-Pierre.
“We have recently seen what happens when the media fixates on fringe candidates with despicable racist and anti-Semitic beliefs,” the Democratic leader said.
In a follow-up press release, Wright also took aim at Bo Dietl, a candidate for the Republican mayoral nomination this year, who attacked State Supreme Court Judge Debra A. James, whom he appeared before to have his lack of party registration waived in his bid to appear on the GOP primary ballot.
“The judge looked like Charlene de Blasio,” Dietl said at a Republican mayoral candidate forum last week, according to the New York Times. “As soon as I saw her, I knew I had a problem.”
Wright, in his press release, said, “I also condemn Mr. Dietl’s remarks suggesting that State Supreme Court Judge Debra A. James’ would be biased against Mr. Dietl due to her race… Repugnant statements by Mr. Dietl such as these are nothing new, and are a desperate grasp for relevance from someone who cannot even file his own paperwork properly and has no business running for mayor.