New York Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney’s re-election campaign is tying her Democratic rival to organized crime, warning staffers in an internal memo to be alert to strangers following them or tampering with their locks.
Democrat Anthony Brindisi has dismissed the accusation as a smear tactic from a failing campaign.
The contentious race is one of the most closely watched in the nation as Democrats look to win the House in November. The upstate district includes the cities of Utica and Binghamton.
In the memo to staffers, a top adviser to the campaign warned that they should avoid going out alone at night and be on the lookout for strange cars. “Brindisi’s family has used their political connections to get away with violence, intimidation and thuggish behavior for years,” reads the memo, which was first reported by The New York Post.
Brindisi’s father is an attorney who decades ago represented individuals linked to organized crime in Utica. His campaign dismissed the memo as a smear tactic.
“Claudia Tenney’s conspiracy-theory-laced personal rhetoric is a warning to voters worried about their health care, Social Security, Medicare and corporate money in politics,” Brindisi said in a statement. “My family will weather this attempt to distract from these critical issues while the voters of this district turn away from these personal and false attacks that improve the lives of no one.”
In response, Tenney’s campaign defended its discussion of Brindisi’s family, noting that the candidate has accepted political contributions from his father and cited him as a mentor.