Last week, Councilman Jeff Bragman made three public declarations about his decision to leave early from a May 7 event at the Clubhouse featuring a performance by Jon Bon Jovi. The event recognized frontline workers and donated a large amount of money to Meals on Wheels and Project Most.
Mr. Bragman asserted that he left before dinner and the concert to avoid the appearance of being influenced by expensive gifts from the private sector. He first publicly raised this concern on May 9, when he posted about it on his campaign Facebook page, Jeff Bragman for East Hampton Town Supervisor. Then on May 10, he wrote a letter about it to this newspaper. And finally, he spoke about it at length during a town board work session meeting on May 11 that was live-streamed on LTV.
Taken together, these declarations unfortunately create the appearance that Mr. Bragman has co-opted the news about this wonderful event for his own political agenda. His public statements about the event were sadly filled with baseless innuendo about corruption and stepped right up to the line of disinformation about his fellow town board members.
But even in our post-Trump, fake news-laden world, facts still matter. And it’s important to note that although Mr. Bragman, an attorney, professed his concerns in three public forums, he chose not to privately raise those concerns with his fellow town board members prior to the actual event. If he had done so, he would have learned that the town board had gotten an interpretation and a ruling from the town attorney and from the ethics committee in advance of the event that cleared them to attend. Further, at the May 11 town board work session meeting, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc was fully transparent when he responded to Mr. Bragman’s concerns by publicly offering to share a hard copy of the ethics committee ruling with any member of the public or press who would like to see it.
Mistruths are not always outright lies. Some are suggestions born out of the omission of facts interwoven with strategically posed questions. This second type of mistruths is insidious and can grow roots if not fact-checked. When we look past Mr Bragman’s political theater and at the actual facts surrounding the town board’s attendance at the Clubhouse event, a sad picture emerges of a political campaign moving in an all too familiar direction of negative attacks and disinformation. I hope that Mr. Bragman will reconsider his campaign strategy and focus instead on letting voters know what he has accomplished for the Town of East Hampton as a councilman for the past four years and what he will get done if elected supervisor.