Illustration via QNS from file and Twitter photos, @GregLasak
Retired Judge Greg Lasak (left) and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and other high-ranking officials are calling out Gregory Lasak’s campaign for not only the factual inaccuracies of a recent mailer sent out, but also alleged sexism behind the claim that Katz, a candidate for district attorney, is unqualified for the office.

In Lasak’s flyer, it claims that Katz was rated as “unqualified,” but the Judiciary Committee of the Queens County Bar Association gave her a thumbs-up. Lasak was rated as “well qualified” by QCBA.

A spokesman for Lasak said their campaign was not attempting to attribute the information in the mailer to the bar’s rating, but that it was their independent assessment of Katz’ ability to lead as top prosecutor.

“The facts are the facts. Greg Lasak has a proven record of reforming the Queens DA’s office, starting a domestic violence unit and freeing the wrongfully convicted,” Rasheida Smith, Lasak’s campaign manager said. “Melinda Katz’s lack of criminal justice experience speaks for itself and no press release will ever distract voters from that fact.”

According to a document from the Bar Association, there were only two individuals in the crowded, seven-candidate field for DA who were not regarded as qualified: Tiffany Cabán and Betty Lugo, the latter failing to show up for the interview.

“As a woman, I’m used to having conservative men like Greg Lasak dismiss my qualifications and sling Donald Trump-like attacks. We deal with this all the time. But the Bar Association says Lasak is wrong,” Katz said. “Greg should keep his man-splaining to himself, and let those of us truly interested in fixing his mistakes as a mass-incarcerating prosecutor do the work that needs to be done.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul sounded off on Katz’s claim that the flyer echoed the tone of President Donald Trump’s attacks on political rivals, which has been widely condemned.

“Sounds like a page right out of Donald Trump’s playbook, relying on a dismissive and claimless attack to denigrate a woman who has spent her life using her legal expertise to fight for the people of Queens. Just this past week Melinda was rated qualified by the NYC Bar Association. At every level of government I’ve served in, I’ve encountered implicit bias and sexism like this – many in the ‘old boys club’ are threatened by women in power and feel entitled to lash out. Melinda Katz is impeccably qualified, and Greg Lasak should apologize immediately for such a blatantly false and negative attack,” said Hochul.

Katz provided a copy of a letter from the bar association informing her that they had deemed her worthy of the seat left vacant by Richard Brown who recently died due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease after 28 years in office.

“I am pleased to advise you that the Judiciary Committee of the Queens County Bar Association has found you ‘qualified’ for election to the position of District Attorney of Queens County,” Marie-Eleana First, president of the QCBA, wrote in a letter to Katz. “Our Judiciary Committee issued its recommendation on May 21, 2019, following your personal interview.”

The Lasak campaign released a series of stats Monday regarding the former state Supreme Court judge’s record in the field of criminal justice for which he claims four decades of experience.

“I spent the better part of four decades working in the criminal justice system — as a prosecutor, a bureau chief and an executive and a Supreme Court Judge. During that time, I was both prosecuting violent criminals and exonerating the innocent. Through it all, I always tried to do the right thing,” Lasak said. “I hope that my career-politician opponents will join me in doing the right thing by releasing stats from their ‘time’ in the criminal justice system. Voters deserve to know who among us has the experience to actually do the job of district attorney.”

“Greg Lasak’s misogynistic mailer is evidence enough that he is unfit to hold the office of district attorney and I know that on election day, the people of Queens will rally around an exemplary candidate who they have previously elected twice to borough-wide office in Melinda Katz and reject the hateful sexism of Greg Lasak,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said.

Others jumping to Katz’ defense are Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, Councilwoman Adrienne Adams and NOW-NYC President Sonia Ossorio.

The primary for Queens DA will be held on June 25 with Katz, Lasak, Cabán, Lugo, Councilman Rory Lancman and Jose Nieves on the ballot.

This is a developing story; check with QNS later for further updates.

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