By Howard Koplowitz
Congressional candidates Bob Turner and state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) lobbed attacks against each other this week, with Turner criticizing Weprin for giving himself a pay raise while on the City Council in 2006 as Weprin criticized the Tea Party, which he strongly linked to Turner, for being responsible for the country’s credit downgrade.
Turner and Weprin are running to replace former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned his FOrest Hill seat amid a sexting scandal.
Turner, a retired businessman from the Rockaways, accused Weprin of voting to give himself a 25 percent salary increase when he was on the Council in 2006.
The raise, approved by the entire Council, upped Weprin’s salary at the time from $90,000 to $112,000.
“David Weprin preposterously suggests he knew nothing about the City Council slush fund scandal while City Council Finance chairman, so we wonder if he also suffers from amnesia on the 25 percent pay hike he gave himself while on the City Council,” said Turner campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly. “Mr. Weprin voted to pay himself $112,000 a year for a part-time job while also working on Wall Street. Brooklyn and Queens residents deserve full transparency in that transaction, they deserve to know what Mr. Weprin was making while giving himself a 25 percent pay raise.”
O’Reilly was referring to the 2008 slush fund scandal, where it was discovered that staffers to Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) stashed budget money to be doled out later under phantom community groups.
Weprin, as Finance chairman, played a large role in the budget process but denied he was aware of the slush fund.
“David is proud of the work he did on the Finance Committee to balance eight budgets on time in eight years without cutting vital government services and to increase transparency in the budget process,” said Weprin campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Kerr. “Bob Turner is simply trying to distract from the fact that he supports the Tea Party plan to end Medicare as we know it and charge seniors an extra $6,400 per year in health care costs.
Weprin’s campaign did not respond to the attack but launched its own, blaming the Tea Party on the country’s first-ever credit downgrade from AAA to AA+ and linking Turner to the movement.
“Bob Turner’s Tea Party allies forced this downgrade because they insisted on keeping in place tax subsidies for big oil and tax loopholes for billionaires,” said Weprin campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Kerr. “We need leaders in Washington like David Weprin, who will support a comprehensive, balanced plan to reduce the federal deficit that focuses on closing those loopholes, cutting taxes for small businesses, protecting Medicare and Social Security from devastating cuts and privatization and putting Americans back to work.”
Turner campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly called the Weprin camp’s attack “absolutely ridiculous.”
“It’s the type of rhetoric that we’ve come to expect from career politicians,” O’Reilly said. “People who know Bob would find Mr. Weprin’s characterization laughable.”
O’Reilly said Turner identifies himself as a “lifelong conservative Republican” and not a Tea Party candidate, although he welcomes the group’s support.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.