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More than one hundred and fifty city residents and campaign supports turned out to the Earl Brydges Library on Main Street in Niagara Falls last Thursday for the first of two democratic primary debates between mayoral candidates Robert M. Restaino and Seth Piccirillo. As it turns out, it was not just the debate that had people talking.
According to numerous attendees at the debate, a small group of individuals wearing ‘Piccirillo for Mayor’ t-shirts were handing out negative campaign literature about Piccirillo’s opponent, Robert M. Restaino. The handout is pictured above.
The Niagara Reporter reached out to Piccirillo’s campaign in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 4th, for comment and asked the following questions:
Did your campaign print and distribute the negative article against your opponent Robert M. Restaino that was being handed out to attendees at the debate held on May 30th, 2019?
If your campaign did not organize said distribution, do you condone supporters of yours doing so on your behalf?
Do you believe that your campaign needs to go negative in order to come out on top in the primary election?
Piccirillo’s campaign has submitted the following answers:
(1) Did your campaign print and distribute the negative article against your opponent Robert M. Restaino that was being handed out to attendees at the debate held on May 30th, 2019?
My campaign did not print or distribute any flyers on May 29. Any literature from our campaign states “Paid for by Piccirillo for Niagara Falls.” After the debate, I observed one of Mr. Restaino’s supporters losing their temper in the lobby. I asked what was going on, and we had a brief conversation. At that point, I learned that there was not a flyer, but rather a printout of a CNN article describing Mr. Restaino’s removal from the City Court bench for improperly imprisoning 46 people over a ringing cell phone that upset him. As I have proven in this campaign, our message comes from me. Unlike other candidates, I do not rely on third parties and my campaign did not print or distribute any literature at the debate.
(2) If your campaign did not organize said distribution, do you condone supporters of yours doing so on your behalf?
You edit and distribute a paper that traffics primarily in false information. It is not up to me to condone your paper, but I still understand your right to publish it, and I expect you will continue to print falsehoods for as long as my opponent and your other advertisers pay you to operate. I did not have anything whatsoever to do with flyers being handed out. They were not handed out on my behalf. In the United States, the Constitution “condones” and protects free speech, particularly when that speech accurately represents the facts.
(3) Do you believe that your campaign needs to go negative in order to come out on top in the primary election?
Mr. D’Angelo, you passed petitions for Mr. Restaino. Mr. Restaino is one of your few remaining advertisers. You have repeatedly published false information about me, and when challenged with facts, you declined to correct the record and instead suggested that I file an injunction. With today’s email, you have decided that someone sharing a CNN article about my opponent’s removal from the bench by the New York State Court of Appeals for jailing 46 people is “going negative.” If your goal is to assist Mr. Restaino as you have in the past, I think you have made a miscalculation. I am discussing tax reduction and neighborhood issues as the way to win this primary. I am holding you accountable for repeated lies, pay to play journalism and a lack of ethics as the way to win this primary. I have presented my platform, body of work and temperament, in contrast to my opponent’s, as the way to win this primary. Who “comes out on top” is the voters’ decision.
A note from the Managing Editor Nicholas D. D’Angelo:
The Niagara Reporter has elected to publish Piccirillo’s responses in full for purposes of transparency. The Piccirillo campaign has consistently attacked the Niagara Reporter on issues raised rather than address them directly. Piccirillo has even gone so far as including me in campaign videos and website blogs in an effort to distract from the issues our paper was bringing up at the time regarding the sale of 424 Memorial Parkway and how he had violated policies and procedures in his handling of the entire situation. There have also been countless other issues that the Niagara Reporter has brought to light where the response from Piccirillo has been to attack this paper instead of the issues we present. Stories are not false just because one might not agree with what it says.
Also, Robert M. Restaino does advertise in the paper and has done so for quite some time. However, he does not fund our paper as Piccirillo has alluded to in the past. He pays $50 per week for his ad on the front cover which, by no means, covers more than what we pay a writer for a single article.