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State weighs in on 'Taxin Tenke' political postcards

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Residents in Glen Cove began to receive political postcards in the mail on Aug. 19. Although the postcards seemed like the usual political ads during an election year, this one, which targeted Glen Cove City Mayor Timothy Tenke, made some residents uneasy because nowhere on the postcard did it read who paid for the ad. While some argued the validity of the claims on the postcard, which dubbed the mayor “Taxin Tenke,” others wanted answers as to where the postcards originated. 

During a City Council meeting on Aug. 27, Glen Cove resident Nancy Hawkins condemned the postcards. She said she believed they were actually in violation of New York State Board of Election law, which normally states that political ads such as those on the postcards come with a disclaimer on who paid for it and why. 

“These are half truths, and, quite frankly, I consider it a cowardly act,” Hawkins said. “I urge the City Council to find out why we have been served with this.” Hawkins has filed a Freedom of Information Law request to find out who sent out the postcards.   

John Conklin, a spokesperson for the State Board of Elections, said that while disclaimers would normally be necessary for radio and television-based political ads, such disclaimers are not required to be included on printed materials unless they’re done through an independent expenditure committee. According to the Federal Board of Elections, an independent expenditure committee is an official group of people who support or oppose candidates by funding communications through websites, newspapers, TV or direct mail ads that express the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate and is not made in consultation or cooperation with, or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, committee or party. 

If the postcards were sent through an independent expenditure committee, the committee would have had to submit their request to the State BOE and gain approval to mail the postcards as they appeared. Even if the sender were not part of an independent expenditure committee, if they are affiliated with a campaign committee, they would have to submit a copy of all campaign materials, including postcards, to the State BOE after the election. 

Although the postcards may be legal in their current form, residents feared a wave of no-name ads would begin to hit the City of Glen Cove similar to the post cards that were sent out during the school district’s bond vote last March, where the bond was ultimately voted down. The City Council made no statement as to whether or not they would look into the postcards. Tenke did not reply to the Herald Gazette’s request for comment.