NEW YORK – Congressional candidate Keith Wright told a TV audience on Monday that a staffer who posted a series of tweets sparking anti-Semitic charged accusations against one of his chief primary rivals was fired.
As first reported by Jewish Insider, the Wright campaign’s Twitter handle tweeted – four times in a matter of hours – a link to a Spanish-language article slamming State Senator Adriana Espaillat – one of the seven candidates running in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Congressman Charles Rangel in New York’s 13th congressional district – for endorsing Councilman Mark Levine, who’s Jewish, over a member of his Dominican community in the 2013 race for City Council.
Levine, who’s also Chair of the Council’s Jewish Caucus, accused Assemblyman Wright of “peddling” anti-Semitism in reaching out to Dominican voters in the district.
Wright told Jewish Insider on Friday that the staffer who tweeted the article “violated protocol” and the incident is being handled by the campaign “in a very swift and appropriate manner.”
“I don’t tolerate any, any sort of bigotry or anti-Semitism,” Wright said in an interview. “A lot of this is being used for political purposes.”
On Monday, during a NY1-sponsored debate at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, Wright was asked by NY1 Noticias anchor Juan Manuel Benitez whether accusing his rival of snubbing Dominican voters is his message to voters in the June 28 primary.
“I am glad you brought that up,” Wright responded. “There was a story that was written in the Spanish-language newspaper and I had a staff person on my campaign that retweeted it — we did not write the story, and that staffer has been terminated because he didn’t go through the regular channels he was supposed to go through.”
The Espaillat campaign wasn’t too forgiving, noting that the tweets were not deleted at the time Wright announced the staffer was fired.
“It’s unfortunate Keith Wright was apparently too busy to fulfill this commitment until he was repeatedly reminded of his unacceptable hate speech,” Tyrone Stevens, a spokesman for the Espaillat campaign, said in a statement.
All the tweets were deleted as of Tuesday morning.
The Democratic primary will take place on June 28. Besides Wright and Espaillat, candidates running in the primary include former White House aide Clyde Williams, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, former Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook and Mike Gallagher.