Press release from Milano campaign:
(Queens, NY) – Rep. Gary Ackerman was present at a Candidates Night Debate at the Palace Diner in Queens, hosted by Queensborough Hill Civic Association along with his Republican opponent, Dr. James Milano and Liz Berney running on the Taxpayers Revolt Line. The original format of opening statements by the candidates followed by rebuttals and questions to the candidates to be read from pre-written cards from the audience was turned on its head as Ackerman became increasingly antagonistic and in a disgraceful show of contempt for his constituents, stormed out of the room before answering any questions.
The hour long event was often heated and passionate, punctuated by periodic interruptions from hecklers in the crowd of about 60 folks composed of both Milano and Ackerman supporters. The most chilling moment occurred when Ackerman interrupted Milano’s presentation and threatened to sue him for libel. This occurred during Milano’s statement, when he mentioned Ackerman’s well documented ethics violations in Congress. The alleged violation stems from Ackerman’s use of his political influence to help enrich a company he invested in. While promoting the technology of defense contractor, Xenonics in his congressional office, he made a no-money-down purchase of private stock in the firm and reaped windfall profits from the shady deal. In addition, subsequent use of his campaign re-election funds to pay personal legal fees to extricate himself from the ethics violations may be legitimate grounds for criminal charges in violation of federal election law.
Ackerman denied any wrongdoing saying that he knows the doctor undoubtedly has malpractice insurance to protect himself from lawsuits, but he had better watch out since he may not have libel insurance. In a sudden hush that swept the room, both opposition parties and supporters alike must have been thinking that Ackerman will do anything to hold on to power, to win no matter what, even threaten his opponent. The stunning arrogance of power that Ackerman displays is an unspoken warning to watch out for one’s personal well being if you dare to go against the powers that be. More people left the event convinced that Ackerman has been in office for so long that he feels the representative’s job is an entitlement.
Throughout the evening, Ackerman frequently interrupted his opponents while they were speaking and insulted and berated the crowd as the same Tea Partiers and Republicans who come from outside the district and go around making trouble for him. He continued to raise his voice in defense of his record as a rubber stamp for Speaker Pelosi’s reckless spending agenda. He showed his contempt for firefighters, police and teachers complaining about their fat pensions, and that his relatively small pension as Congressman should be greater than theirs. All the UFT volunteers working hard for his re-election should take note of his true colors.
As a contrast to Ackerman’s disgraceful behavior, Dr. Milano did not interrupt his opponent’s speech. He behaved in a proper manner, as a gentleman throughout the evening. At one point, he got up and urged the crowd to show more decorum and behave in a respectful manner toward whoever is speaking. Since the polls show that Ackerman is in a very close race with Milano, he should be justifiably nervous, but it is no excuse for a lack of decorum on the part of the Congressman.
Tonight Ackerman’s hissy fit reveals that he is unworthy of a leadership position in the United States House of Representatives. Heckling the audience, interrupting his opponents, threatening scare tactics, and storming out of the room, are more like adolescent behavior in the schoolyard. Regardless of the differences in political agenda and policy, it is the lack of statesman-like behavior on Ackerman’s part that reveals he is no longer worthy to serve the constituents of District 5 as their representative.
Photo from Queens Tribune