Democrat Tony Castro, who posing a primary challenge to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, got ensnared in his own criticism over her use of the DA’s shield on her campaign website.
This was Castro’s press release, edited for length:
Castro: DiFiore Use of State Coat of Arms in Campaign is Illegal
Tony Castro today called upon the Attorney General to intervene and stop District Attorney Janet DiFiore from using the State coat of arms in her campaign advertising including her web-site, literature, television advertising and signage. (Under state law — see legal background below — the State coat of arms can be used only for official business unless a specific statutory exception is made.)
“It’s hard to say what is more disturbing – the fact that despite being the District Attorney Janet DiFiore ignores the law or in the alternative that she is ignorant of the law,” Castro said.
“In the 1990s, the then Attorney General stopped The Fraternal Order of New York State Troopers from using the State coat of arms on their stationery because they are a private organization,” Castro said. “If it is illegal for The Fraternal Order of New York State Troopers to use the State coat of arms in their advertising, then it is illegal for Janet DiFiore to use it in her political campaign advertising. The pertinent law has not changed.”
General Business Law §136 provides, in pertinent part, “Any person who: a. … shall place or cause to be placed … any advertisement, of any nature upon any flag, standard, color, shield or ensign of … the state of New York … or shall expose or cause to be exposed to public view any such flag, standard, color, shield or ensign … to which shall be attached, appended, affixed or annexed … any advertisement of any nature … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” The Attorney General of New York has held that General Business Law §136 (a recodification of Penal Law §1425) prohibits the use of the coat of arms for advertising purposes unless the advertising matter is official in character and authorized and provided for by statute (1930 N.Y. Op. Att’y Gen. 115; 1934 N.Y. Op. N.Y. Att’y Gen. 331; 1979 Op. N.Y. Att’y Gen. 63. The New York A.G. has also opined that the enforcement of this statute is for the District Attorney (1947 Op. N.Y. Att’y Gen. Dec. 12).
Now comes the irony … DiFiore’s campaign manager, Mary Kornman, pointed out that not only can DiFiore lawfully display the shield of the office she now holds, BUT THAT CASTRO PUT THE DA SHIELD ON HIS OWN WEBSITE!
“Mr. Castro’s credibility is strained beyond tolerance when he objects to the use of the shield of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, at the same time that he displays the very same shield on the home page of his own campaign website,” Gorman said.
Coincidentally, the shield has been removed from Castro’s website.