While U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has spent the past three months aiding in coronavirus relief for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, two of his challengers for the Democratic congressional nomination have been caught up in litigation and controversial comments.
The 3rd Congressional District includes Manhasset, Roslyn, Port Washington, Great Neck and Floral Park, among other areas. Suozzi, the former mayor of Glen Cove and former Nassau County executive who was first elected to the seat in 2016, won re-election in 2018 and is seeking another term this year.
Michael Weinstock was sued by Melanie D’Arrigo and former congressional challenger Josh Sauberman in an attempt to disqualify “fraudulent” and “out-of-district” petition signatures, according to D’Arrigo. Weinstock sought to quash the suit by invoking a state law which states it is illegal to serve legal papers to an observant Jew on the sabbath or Shabbat.
According to state law, people who deliberately serve observant Jews with legal papers on Saturdays can be prosecuted with a misdemeanor.
“Serving a Jew on Shabbat is a bone-headed error,” Weinstock said. “You learn that in law school.”
“I had no idea, nor did Melanie, that he was an observant Jew, not that having a package dropped off at one’s door constitutes some violation of his religious beliefs,” D’Arrigo’s attorney Arthur Schwartz said.
An appellate court in Albany ultimately dismissed the lawsuit, claiming it was filed one day late.
“We filed on [Friday] April 3 and the judge who signed the order to show cause on April 3, required service by overnight mail on or before April 3, 2020, which is what I did,” Schwartz said.
“I’m relieved … Melanie D’Arrigo is a very wealthy woman and she’s allowed to spend her money however she wants, but every time she files one of these lawsuits, she not only keeps me from campaigning but she endangers the lives of the Board of Elections staffers who are required to leave their homes and work on her lawsuit,” Weinstock said. “I think maybe she’s not the best wellness coach around.”
Schwartz told the Jerusalem Post in April that Weinstock is a “non-observant Jew and a BS artist.”
Weinstock is a former sex-crimes prosecutor and a rescue worker in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A Great Neck native, Weinstock would also be the first openly gay person to represent New York City or Long Island in Congress.
D’Arrigo classifies herself as a progressive Democrat who hails from Port Washington. She is a community activist and said she served as the campaign manager for state Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso (D-Port Washington) in 2018.
Schwartz said Weinstock only remains on the ballot due to committing fraud, and that the effort to get him thrown off the ballot was thwarted by the judge’s error. Schwartz and D’Arrigo claim that Weinstock collected signatures for election petitions on a Saturday and that some signatures were written down in the same handwriting as others, along with some not residing within the 3rd Congressional District.
“He cheated his way on and is now using it to attack Melanie, a candidate who collected 3,500 signatures, has broad support, and has been endorsed by numerous progressive groups,” Schwartz said.
“So despite submitting fraudulent, out of district and non-Democrat signatures, he cheated his way onto the ballot, because the judge didn’t rule on the merits of the case,” D’Arrigo said.
“When I was meeting with voters and collecting signatures my first priority was protecting everyone’s safety,” Weinstock said in response to the allegations. “A handful of older voters didn’t want to touch my pen or get too close to my clipboard, but they wanted to support my campaign and they wanted my name on the ballot. When this happened, I wrote down the person’s name, and their address, and I included a note at the bottom of the page, describing the interaction. For some inexplicable reason, Ms. D’Arrigo believes my conduct was objectionable. She believes that I should have coerced these seniors into holding my pen and signing their names, despite the obvious risks to their safety.”
After the court ruled in Weinstock’s favor, D’Arrigo provided Blank Slate Media with a screenshot of Weinstock speaking with constituents on Facebook and commenting, “Melanie’s little stunt that requires me to leave my house every day, during a pandemic, is a different matter altogether. The woman deliberately put me and my family at risk. If she were a man, I would consider giving her a good old-fashioned throat punch.”
“Normalizing violence against women is heinous and he has no business running for office,” D’Arrigo said. “We already have enough liars and misogynists in government, we don’t need another one.”
“The use of such brutal language perpetuates a culture of violence against women,” said Patricia Pastor, legislative lead for the National Organization for Women of New York State and president of its Nassau chapter. “Weinstock’s attacks are particularly reprehensible given that he is a lawyer who claims to have fought for women victimized by sexual predators when he worked as an assistant district attorney.”
Weinstock apologized for the “crude joke.”
“While chatting with a friend on Facebook, I made a crude joke,” Weinstock said. “I’m sorry that I did that. I hope to become the type of elected official that kids admire. I am optimistic that Ms. D’Arrigo will finally apologize for the Jewish vulgarity expressed by her legal team.”