Somebody needs to tell this politician that every Tom, Dick, and Harry has a cell phone with a camera on it nowadays. This Democratic New York State assemblyman was caught red-handed on video and he was stealing campaign signs from Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin. He is running neck and neck against incumbent Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul in next week’s election.
Now here is where the story gets crazy, the assemblyman who was caught with the freshly stolen signs, Peter Abbate of Brooklyn, was caught on tape arguing with a woman who appeared to be recording him in progress. He defended his actions by saying that Zeldin signs are “illegal” and that displaying them “leads to bigger crime.”
The woman asks Abbate, “What are you doing?”
“Taking down illegal signs,” Abbate replied, adding that they’re disallowed on “public property.”
The woman said she had never seen him taking down other signs even though he has been in office since 1987, and that triggered the state assemblyman.
“Every sign!” he hollered back. “I’ve always done it!”
Abbate then said that Zeldin is “breaking the law” with the signs and added that “it would be a disgrace for someone running for governor who’s breaking the law before he even takes office. This leads to bigger crime!”
Abbate told the New York Post that “people want to know why there’s crime going up. We don’t enforce the law.” The paper said that he tried to get city sanitation workers to get the signs in his neighborhood to no avail.
He went on a rant about what happens with these signs, after the election they fall, go into the street and clog the sewers.
The fact is that a local sanitation department spokesperson told the media that “Posting political or business signs of any kind — for any candidate or any business — on public property is illegal in New York City, and it is the job of the Department of Sanitation to keep the city clean in accordance with the law.”
But Zeldin and his supporters believe that Abbate and city sanitation workers are using the rules to target him this close to the election.
New York City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island), someone who has known Peter Abbate for years, told the New York Post that they have never heard of him going out and cleaning up the sidewalks on his regular morning walks before.
If fact, all the attention that is going to pro-Zeldin signs in Brooklyn has made a number of the people in this Democratic-controlled neighborhood curious.
One video showed the sanitation workers taking away Zeldin’s signs from the Ocean Parkway neighborhood. One person said that it seemed like a serious waste of time for city workers and it looked so transparent and political.
A Midwood resident, Shmuel Hirshman, recently got a tick from a sanitation officer over litter, but he believes it was really about a Zeldin sign he put in his front yard as a favor to a friend.
New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (R-Midwood) said that her neighborhood was experiencing an effort never seen before to have city employees remove political signs, especially Zeldin’s signs. She said, “my constituents are rightfully angry that their tax dollars are being used to suppress their political speech,” the paper said.
Zeldin responded to the sign stealing by saying the state assemblyman should be knocking on doors worried about his campaign. He said that Abate should be advocating for himself and for other candidates that support him.
Zeldin advised that he should be putting up signs for his own candidates, not taking down signs.