Last week Orthodox Union leaders scrambled to make it known they had not endorsed Eric Schneiderman, the Democrat running for state attorney general, after a Schneiderman supporter’s ad featured an OU press release about meeting the candidate.
Now it’s leaders of the Satmar Chasidic community who are insisting they never endorsed Schneiderman’s Republican rival, Daniel Donovan. The Staten Island DA was in Brooklyn Sunday meeting with the Aron faction of the divided sect. He chose not to meet with the rival Zalman faction because of its ties to embattled, under-investigation Brooklyn Democrat boss Vito Lopez, according to the New York Observer.
The meeting resulted in this press release from Donovan’s campaign:
"Daniel M. Donovan’s campaign for New York State Attorney General today announced that it has gained the endorsement of leaders of the Satmar (Aron faction) and other Hasidic communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park. After careful deliberation, these community leaders decided that Donovan represents the best choice for New York State Attorney General. Citing his 15 years experience as a prosecutor and record of accomplishment as District Attorney, the leaders of the Williamsburg and Borough Park communities stated that Donovan ‘demonstrated both a unique ability to do the job of Attorney General and a true appreciation for the needs of the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and throughout the state, and therefore, has won their support.’
"I am deeply honored and gratified to receive these endorsements," said Donovan. "These leaders admirably serve the Williamsburg, Borough Park and surrounding Hasidic communities of New York with integrity and distinction, by being a voice for good government and improving the lives of the Satmar Community throughout Brooklyn. It’s an honor to earn their support for my campaign for Attorney General."
A new release followed Monday morning with this amended statement:
"I am deeply honored to have met with these leaders and Rebbes," said Donovan. "These leaders admirably serve the Williamsburg, Borough Park and surrounding Hasidic communities of New York with integrity and distinction, by being a voice for good government and improving the lives of the Satmar Community throughout Brooklyn."
Donovan’s Jewish adviser, Menashe Shapiro, took the rap.
"I misinterpreted the authority of some of the organizers — who [are] political activists for the community — to make political endorsements on behalf of the Brooklyn portion of the Satmar/Aron faction," he said in a statement Monday. "But I should have been aware of that fact. I take this hit, me alone."
There were no apparent hard feelings between Donovan and Shapiro, who is a Democrat, when the two visited The Jewish Week’s office on Monday afternoon to tape a video interview.
Asked about the issues of concern expressed by the chasidic leaders, Donovan cited religious accommodation in the workplace and member-item funding for community-based organizations from state legislators, over which Donovan wants to see stricter oversight and more transparency in light of some recent scandals.
"I told them there will be more money available for legitimate non-profits," said the candidate. "Their main concern is having a voice."
Donovan said he noted to the chasidim that while Schneiderman said he would open an annex in his office for the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, "there are 19 million people in this state and everyone will have a voice" if he is elected.
Schneiderman, in a separate interview Sunday, said he never meant for the Sharpton comment to be taken literally.
"No one gets special treatment in my office," he said. "I was speaking to the idea that all those who feel they are voiceless will have a voice."