I write with concern about the recent tendency of The Star to make editorial proclamations that are based on factual inaccuracies and lack of understanding of the political and legal environment. Last week The Star suggested that the East Hampton Democratic Campaign Committee (Campaign 2021) was benefiting from a so-called “cash loophole” by receiving contributions of more than $1,000 from some individuals, suggesting that that was only permitted because of its being a political committee (by which I believe you meant a constituted committee, or PAC, for which there are higher donation limits than for individual candidates). That in fact is not true and The Star’s lack of understanding or laziness in investigating the facts is apparent. The contribution limitations per candidate in East Hampton local elections are that any individual can give up to $1,000 per candidate for the primary and $1,000 per candidate for the general election.
As has been the tradition of the East Hampton Democratic campaigns from at least 1983, Democratic candidates run as a team and aggregate their contributions through a multi-candidate campaign committee. Typically, in local election years, approximately 16 to 17 candidates run for local office. Given the $1,000 limitation per individual per candidate, that means that an individual can give $16,000 to $17,000 for the general election and an amount equal to the number of candidates who are facing a primary times $1,000. This is the same system that Mr. Bragman was the beneficiary of when he first ran in 2017. The Star apparently chose to editorialize about a so-called “loophole” being utilized without recognizing what the facts are, what the law is, and that the loophole that they thought was being utilized was not.
This is not the first time The Star has opined based on false pretenses. On June 10, 2021, an editorial carrying out the editorial staff’s vendetta against Supervisor Van Scoyoc suggested that a vote for Jeff Bragman for supervisor would help alleviate acrimony on the board because if he won the primary, since he was going to be on the general election ballot anyway, this would eliminate Mr. Van Scoyoc as a candidate. What The Star failed to realize was that just as Mr. Bragman has a second line on the general election ballot, so too does Mr. Van Scoyoc, who has been endorsed by the Working Families Party, as have many other Democratic candidates. As we now know, Mr. Van Scoyoc resoundingly defeated Bragman in the Democratic primary despite The Star’s oddly rationalized endorsement of Bragman.
The editorial writers’ lack of factual consistency or understanding has become disturbing to the point at which Star editorials will have to be taken with a grain of salt and fact-checked to remove fake news and other inaccuracies.
Some also find it ironic that The Star is now competing with our local charities and not-for-profit groups in seeking contributions, but not disclosing the amount of the contributions it is receiving and from whom it is receiving them. For a company that decries the lack of transparency in government and politics (when ironically political campaigns must disclose their donors on a regular basis in filings with the State Board of Elections that are available for everyone to review online), it is the height of hypocrisy that The Star makes no such disclosure so that the readers can know whose contributions may be influencing the editorial choices of The Star. What dark money does The Star collect that would give context to its opinion pieces? I urge the readers of The Star to keep these factors in mind as they read the editorials and the choices made by the editorial staff.
a letter to the editor of the East Hampton Star