The campaign of Governor Kathy Hochul hit her Republican challenger, Lee Zeldin, hard on Monday for text messages the Long Island Congress member sent to a Trump administration official nearly three years ago regarding plans to discredit the 2020 presidential election.
The texts between Zeldin and former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, obtained from the House January 6 Committee, consist of two comprehensive plans or ideas sent from Zeldin to Meadows, indicating intentions to discredit the 2020 presidential election results ahead of the contest.
“Mark, [two] ideas: 1) upload vetted voting irregularities (videos, etc) onto one narrowly focused, credible microsite with a donation link for the President’s legal fund for all of us to reference,” according to the text sent from Zeldin to Meadows sometime in November of 2020. “Needs to be done instantly. 2) The President should have one lead spokesperson organizing daily public press briefings that credibly lays out the facts communicated in an effective way to separate it from the opinions which also need to be shared. That person needs to give an update of the state of play state by state, including a top line summary of where each battleground state stands with the count, projections possible recounts, legal actions, vetted voting irregularities, unvetted alleged voting irregularities, (make clear that the campaign is intensively reviewing those claims for vetting purposes).”
Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, but nonetheless claimed without valid evidence that the contest had been “stolen” from him through unfounded election fraud. Trump continued to propagate this “Big Lie” over the following three months, ultimately culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack by a mob of his supporters upon the U.S. Capitol as the House and Senate convened to certify the election results in Biden’s favor.
Hours after the failed insurrection, Zeldin was one of 149 Republican House members who later voted against certifying the electoral votes of six swing states that Trump lost.
Zeldin later voted against Trump’s impeachment on an incitement of insurrection charge, and also voted against the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.
As recently as June of this year, Zeldin insisted, without evidence, that there was wrongdoing in the 2020 presidential election that Biden won and Trump lost.
These texts between Zeldin and Meadows were leaked a day after Zeldin received an endorsement from former President Trump on the Truth social media website.
“I have watched and known Congressman Lee Zeldin for many years,” the former President said on Oct. 16. “He is a great and brilliant lawyer who was a ‘must see’ for others in Congress when they had a complex legal problem that was holding up legislation.”
Hochul’s campaign said the text underscored their belief that Zeldin’s alliance with Trump makes him “dangerous and disqualifying.”
“Lee Zeldin’s aspirations to be Donald Trump’s number one ally are never ending. Zeldin’s text messages with Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reveal that he played a central role in the former president’s concerted effort to throw out the 2020 presidential election results,” said Governor Hochul’s Campaign Spokesman, Jerrel Harvey on Monday. “Zeldin’s record is already dangerous and disqualifying, and these new revelations show the extent of his involvement in pushing Donald Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories.”
The Zeldin campaign, meanwhile, dismissed the revelation as a cynical campaign stunt, arguing that Hochul was more focused on highlighting the effort to undermine the 2020 presidential election rather than prioritizing the needs of her constituents.
“You know Kathy Hochul is desperate when she’d rather obsess over a text message sent at the beginning of November before the election was even called, rather than focusing on the issues most important to New Yorkers, including rising crime on our streets and a skyrocketing cost of living,” said Zeldin spokesperson Katie Valdez to amNewYork Metro on Oct. 17. “Where is her statement calling for a special session on cashless bail? Where’s her statement announcing she’s refunding the campaign donations she solicited in exchange for New Yorkers’ tax dollars? The fact that Kathy Hochul spends all her time pathetically grasping at straws like this instead of making life easier, safer and more affordable for New Yorkers tells you everything you’ll ever need to know about Kathy Hochul.”