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Rockland GOP Chair To File Complaints Over A Democrat's Retweet

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A Republican in Rockland County is calling out an elections commissioner over one of her retweets. And he’s asking for an investigation.

Lawrence Garvey is chairman of the Rockland County Republican Committee. He says a retweet of “The R on your ballots in Nov 2018 is for racist,” is troubling. That retweet came from Democratic Rockland County Board of Elections Commissioner Kristen Stavisky. And she retweeted it from her personal account, which also says that any retweets or follows are not endorsements. Here’s Garvey:

“The problem is that she is the commissioner of elections for Rockland County. And the commissioner takes an oath to be impartial and to ensure there is fairness in the process,” says Garvey. “And it’s impossible to be fair if she thinks that virtually half the people that run for public office plus their voters are racist. So it’s a problem.”

Reached by phone at the county Board of Elections, Stavisky, who also chairs the Rockland Democratic Committee, declined to comment. However, via email, Rockland Democratic Committee Executive Director Theodore Collins says, quote, “Anyone who thinks a retweet equals an endorsement doesn’t understand the first thing about Twitter. Lawrence Garvey should focus on apologizing for the Republican Party’s national voter suppression agenda, harmful policies towards people of color, immigrants, women, and the LGBTQ community, and the divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump rather than this silliness.” End quote. Garvey wants Stavisky to step down.

“I’m going to be requesting that a full and fair examination of the tweet be done. At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to remove an elections commissioners who’s been appointed. In fact, only the governor of the state of New York can remove that person,” says Garvey. “But, at the very least some light needs to be shone upon what her true motivations and what her true feelings are.”

On Monday, Garvey was composing his formal complaints to the state Board of Elections and county Board of Ethics. Robert Freeman is executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.

“I think that this issue involves a matter of public concern,” says Freeman. “That being so, and I don’t know what the function of the state Board of Elections would be necessarily but, I think that it’s an issue that is probably meritorious of consideration.”

Freeman, who oversees and advises the government, public, and news media on Freedom of Information, Open Meetings, and Personal Privacy Protection Laws, sees the issue on the basis of what could be considered a FOIL record. And he believes there is a difference between an individual using a private versus governmental office Twitter feed.

“My question would be whose computer is being used to obtain the Twitter feed. Is it the government computer? If it is, if it is, again, FOIL would apply,” Freeman says. “If it is so-and-so’s home computer and it is separate and distinct from any governmental function, the answer would be different. The answer would be different. But, you know, years ago, the Court of Appeals referred to the inevitable crossover between, let us say, the public function as opposed to the private function when carried on by the same individual.”

Garvey alleges that Stavisky’s role as county Democratic chair could be blurred with her role as elections commissioner.

“Who’s to say that she’s not going to take that personal feeling, animus, and move it into the Board of Elections and put it into practice in the Board of Elections,” Garvey says.

The tweet originates from U.S. Air Force veteran Andrew Goss, who uses Veterans Resist and ImpeachTrump hashtags. His Twitter followers number 63,000.

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