Scandal time: Paladino gets a pass
Some candidates have baggage. Carl Paladino has enough to fill the belly of a plane.
And yet he is in a competitive race for governor of New York, at least according to some recent polls.
The media seem to be treating Paladino's past in perfunctory fashion, even though the revelations would sink most politicians. It defies the laws of physics. It makes dabbling in witchcraft seem like a school prank. There's even video now of him threatening a reporter.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the tough-talking Republican is a wealthy Buffalo businessman who can finance his own race against Andrew Cuomo.
Let's start with the affair.
In a sympathetic column, Susan Dominus of the New York Times chatted up Paladino's wife, Cathy, about the matter:
Her husband not only had an affair, not only fathered a child with that other woman, but also told his wife of 40 years about it all the same week that their 29-year-old son, Patrick, was killed in a car accident. He pulled her aside, Ms. Paladino said, as she was looking for family photographs to bring to the wake.
"He said he was very sorry to cause me pain, the relationship with the mother was over ... and there was a child," she said.
I had to read it twice and shake my head in disbelief.
Then there was this, which came out in April, but no one much cared because no one thought Paladino was going to win the nomination:
Racist and sexually explicit e-mail messages that a left-leaning Web site claimed he had sent to friends and business associates in recent years.
The messages ... included pornographic images and what appeared to be a video of Africans dancing in traditional dress that was titled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal."
Another, a picture of a cargo plane crashing into the ground behind a group of black people, was prominently captioned with a common racial epithet for African-Americans.
A spokesman said Paladino regretted sending the e-mails.
How about the candidate's staff?
His campaign manager failed to pay nearly $53,000 in federal taxes over the last few years, prompting the Internal Revenue Service to take action against him. An aide who frequently drives Mr. Paladino on the campaign trail served jail time in Arizona on charges of drunken driving.
Another adviser has been indicted on charges of stealing more than $1 million from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's re-election bid last year.
Paladino certainly knows how to throw a punch--even when it's below the belt:
"New York Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino alleged Tuesday that Democrat Andrew Cuomo was unfaithful to his ex-wife years ago, a stunning accusation that validated his earlier prediction that the race would be getting nastier," Politico reports.
"Paladino offered no proof of his claim, despite requests for substantiation, and he made it minutes after angrily declaring his 10-year-old daughter -- a child from his own affair 10 years ago -- off limits to the press."
"Has anybody asked Andrew Cuomo about his paramours?" Paladino said, as campaign manager Michael Caputo chimed in, "when he was married."
Paladino continued, "When he was married -- or asked him why his wife left him or threw him out of the house? Has anybody ever done that?" he demanded. "What are they doing intruding on my life?"
When New York Post columnist Fred Dicker confronted him about the story, Paladino threatened him -- and the tense exchange is captured on YouTube. "I'll take you out, buddy," the nominee declared.
This is not an examination of Paladino's positions or whether he'd make a better governor than Cuomo. This is about the dynamics of 2010, when an outsider -- and Paladino is certainly that -- can gain traction despite a checkered past.
Maybe people don't care about this stuff any more. Maybe it doesn't qualify as news because it dribbled out before Paladino upset Rick Lazio for the nomination.
But hey, maybe reporters should be rooting for the guy. It would be a very colorful four years. And what would stop Eliot Spitzer from challenging him next time around? The hooker business might seem like a minor diversion by comparison.
| September 30, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Latest stories, Top story | Tags: Andrew Cuomo, Carl Paladino, New York, affair, governor, media, scandal
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