Staffers working for a Republican vying for a New York Congressional seat called the police to a parking lot where a reporter for the conservative publication The Weekly Standard had been trying to get her to answer questions about her support for union card-check legislation and various health care reform proposals.
Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in a November 3rd special election to represent New York’s 23rd congressional district, ran into Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack after a campaign dinner at a local Elks Lodge.
McCormack said he wanted to get clarification on Scozzafava’s stance on union card check legislation. In his own report of the event, after he asked New York Assemblywoman Scozzafava whether she supports the Employee Free Choice Act (she said she does) “someone from her campaign placed himself between” the candidate and the reporter.
The staffer told McCormack he should direct all inquires to the campaign’s spokesman, but the reporter continued to ask the candidate other questions, including whether she would oppose any health care bill that raises taxes (she responded “What kind of taxes?”). McCormack says he spotted Scozzafava walking to the parking lot and he continued questioning her, this time asking whether health care reform legislation should exclude coverage for abortions (she didn’t answer).
Scozzafava got in her car and McCormack got in his own car—only to be approached by a police officer minutes later.
“Officer Grolman informed me that she was called because “there was a little bit of an uncomfortable situation” and then took down my name, date of birth, and address.” McCormack said, adding that the police officer told him “Maybe we do things a little differently here, but you know, persistence in that area, you scared the candidate a little bit.”
According to McCormack, Officer Grolman said the candidate “got startled, that’s all” but told him “It’s not like you’re in any trouble.”
Matt Burns, spokeswoman for Scozzafava, told Politico whether you agree with the candidate or not “she should still be afforded a basic level of respect. Reporters asking tough questions is expected and welcomed, but acting like John McCormack did last night shows a complete lack of decency.”
“This self-described reporter repeatedly screamed questions (in-your-face-style) while our candidate was doing what she is supposed to be doing: speaking with voters,” Burns said. “And then he followed the candidate to her car, continuing to carry on in a manner that would make the National Enquirer blush. I have no doubt he intended to follow her home, too. His actions were reprehensible. Those are the facts.”
Scozzafava is a moderate Republican running against Democratic nominee Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.