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The sex-abuse charges hanging over City Council hopeful George Smith’s head is making him too hot for borough conservatives to handle.
Shocked by recent reports about his arrest for misdemeanor crimes at his former home in Long Island, as well as a prior arrest for robbery and police impersonation in the early 1990s, Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar said that he wants Smith to pull himself off the Conservative line.
Currently, Smith is running as a Republican in the 39th District, which includes Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Borough Park, where he is facing a primary challenge against candidate Joe Nardiello.
If Nardiello manages to beat Smith, voters will see his name again in November, this time on the Conservative line, where he is facing no challenger.
“We have made it clear to him that we want him to come off the line,” said Kassar. “We want him to petition the court to come off the ballot.”
Kassar said that neither he nor his fellow Republican members knew about Smith’s sordid past.
Smith, he said, was recommended to them by the Republicans, who had already accepted him on their ballot for the 39th District.
“We sat down and talked to George Smith and he was fine on the issues about taxes, capital punishment and congestion pricing,” Kassar remembered. “This other stuff never came out. Maybe that’s the mistake. We normally don’t have to ask the candidates if they’ve been charged with a crime.”
“Maybe asking about one’s criminal history should be a new spoke in the wheel,” he said.
On September 8 -- just a week before his primary against Nardiello -- Smith will go to Nassau County Criminal Court and respond to charges of misdemeanor sex abuse, harassment, forcible touching and sexual misconduct charges.
If convicted, he could receive up to a year in jail, officials from the Nassau County District Attorney’s office said.
Smith claimed that the charges are bogus and were filed by his estranged wife when he began complaining about his former love’s new boyfriend, who he said is a registered sex offender. He started complaining when he had heard that the would-be sex offender/new boyfriend had bathed his daughter.
He doesn’t like to talk about the prior arrest and conviction for robbery and police impersonation.
“I was young,” he said. “It was so long ago and I made a mistake.”
His opponents said that if he was convicted of a crime, then he may not be eligible to run for office.
Smith found these allegations “un-American.”
“Just because you made a mistake and got involved with the wrong people doesn’t mean your life is over,” he said, claiming that he’d wish the press would focus more on the issues rather than his personal history. “America was founded by poor people and rejects from other countries who all came here to build a new life. This is the land of opportunities and dreams.”
Smith said that although there have been public calls -- mostly in the press -- to get him to remove himself off the ballot, no one has personally brought these demands to him.
“I haven’t gotten one phone call about this,” he said adding that he has no intention of bowing out of the race.
It is unclear if the Republicans feel the same way the Conservatives do about Smith. Calls to Craig Eaton, the chair of the Kings County Republican Party about Smith were not returned by press time, although some Republican District leaders said Smith should still run.
“People should have a choice,” said Republican District Leader Yvette Bennett, who represents the 44th AD in Park Slope.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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