New York State Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino Apologizes For Forwarding Inappropriate Emails

9:53 PM, Apr 13, 2010   |    comments
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  • Carl Paladino
  • Police evacuated Paladino's Ellicott Square Building after a bomb threat.

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The candidate famous for tapping into political anger appears to have become a target of it.

One day after apologizing for forwarding sexist and racist emails to several of his friends, Buffalo Developer and New York State Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino was the target of a threat.

According to Michael Caputo, Paladino's campaign manager, someone called his Ellicott Square building campaign office during the lunch hour Tuesday threatening to harm Paladino and blow up the building.

"[The receptionist] said he threatened Carl, and the building, said Carl is a racist, and then he claimed to be from a black militant group," Caputo said.

Caputo said the call lasted about 45 seconds, and that the caller did not identify the group. Paladino's office contacted Buffalo Police, who evacuated the building.

"The first thing I saw was Carl running down the stairs," said Arsen Mirzoin, who works in the building. "And then I thought maybe it was a real fire."

Police said they searched the building with a bomb-sniffing dog and found nothing. Workers were allowed back in after about a half hour. Caputo believes the call was a hoax, motivated by the email scandal. Paladino left the office shortly afterward. Police said they're trying to trace the call.

After admitting to forwarding emails containing the n-word, and other racially-charged language, Carl Paladino said Monday he is not a racist.

While commenting on the threat Tuesday, Caputo pointing the finger at Democrats for circulating the emails. Caputo told the assembled media that Paladino, a Republican, was approached by an "emissary" of Congressman Brian Higgins two weeks ago and told that "everything would come out" if Paladino decided to run for governor.

Caputo said Higgins was acting on behalf of New York Attorney General and presumed Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Cuomo.

2 On Your Side's Aaron Saykin asked Caputo about the claim.

REPORTER: Do you have any evidence that this came from Brian Higgins?

CAPUTO: We have a threat from Brian Higgins compatriot...


CAPUTO: That this was going to happen.


CAPUTO: I'm not going to name names.

REPORTER: Well, you're sitting here accusing him of being tied to this.

CAPUTO: Ask Brian Higgins.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Congressman Higgins called the claim "ridiculous." Mr. Cuomo's office is yet to comment.

The emails, which were first published on the liberal blog, (WARNING -- images are graphic), also contained graphic sexual imagines and videos of women, one of whom was performing a sexual act on a horse.

One of the reported emails included a video of African tribesman dancing, and was labeled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal." Another photo portrayed the President as a pimp, and the First Lady as a prostitute. Another image shows an airplane barreling toward a group of African men. The caption reads: "Holy (Expletive). Run (n-word), run!"

Much of Paladino's support comes from the local Tea Party movement.  2 On Your Side spoke to organizer Rus Thompson.

REPORTER: Does the local tea party movement, given the surfacing of these emails, support Carl Paladino?

THOMPSON: Not just the locals. Everybody that I'm hearing from all the way down in Nassau County and in Long Island. They come right up and say the political opponents were going to after Carl any way they can find to go after Carl. This is just one. The campaign contributions were another one. And I'm getting emails of support telling us basically to keep the faith.

REPORTER: Do you think it was appropriate to send out some of these emails

THOMPSON: I just said that, didn't I? No it wasn't. Was it appropriate for him to forward these things on? No.

Paladino said he did not create the emails, but merely forwarded them to friends before he became a candidate.

Paladino tried to explain himself during a brief appearance on the Fred Dicker Show on 1300 AM in Albany Tuesday Morning.

DICKER: Why did you pass this stuff along. Why didn't you send it back and say, 'return to sender? It's too ugly.' We only have about 40 seconds.

PALADINO: Well, you know, over the years, when your friends are sending you emails, ok, that are funny at the time, okay, that are not intended to be anything other than a humor amongst friends, that you re-send stuff. And I did that.

DICKER: You find...

PALADINO: ... And I acknowledge that.

DICKER: ... use of the word n****r humorous? I mean, that's a pretty horrifying word these days. And understandably so, you know.

PALADINO: Well, they... well.... at the time and moment, okay when you see Ronald Reagan dressed in drag or you see a, uh (RADIO BREAK MUSIC PLAYS), uh, Obama, okay, picture...

DICKER: Yeah, the, uh, pimp's outfit.

PALADINO: Whatever. That kind of stuff is going to happen, but that has nothing to do with the campaign.

Paladino was not available for comment after the program. Two on Your Side Reporter Aaron Saykin questioned his campaign manager, Michael Caputo, about the interview.

REPORTER: Mr. Paladino said he thought they were funny at the time. How in the world could you think that an email that uses the n-word is, any way, humorous?

CAPUTO: Well, I'm not going to go ahead and pick apart the emails...

REPORTER: No, those are his words on the radio this morning.

CAPUTO: No, I understand his words on the radio this morning.

REPORTER: What did he mean by that?

CAPUTO: Your definition of what email he was examining, you said something about the n-word. I haven't seen that email. Uh, but I can tell you, Carl is not a racist. And it doesn't matter what the emails that came to him that he forwarded on said. He is not a supporter of that kind of philosophy and he never has been.

REPORTER: This morning, though, when asked about those emails and some of the materials in the emails, one of which included the n-word, he said he thought it was funny at the time. Did he think the use of the n-word in the email was funny?

CAPUTO: No, in fact, you're wrong about that. In the interview today, he was being asked the email where it showed Obama in a hat...

REPORTER: No, no, that wasn't until afterward. I have the transcript.

CAPUTO: Well, I can tell you this...

REPORTER: I listened to it and I have the transcript.

CAPUTO: I'll be happy to look at the transcript.

REPORTER: I sent it to you.

CAPUTO: Alright, well, that's great. If you have it on your I-phone bring it out right now, but I'll tell you this -- Carl Paladino doesn't use the n-word and he doesn't find it funny. That, where the n-word was used, was buried within the depths of a 10 or 12 image email that he doesn't remember seeing. But if you're going to put the words of someone else's email in Carl Paladino's mouth, we really don't have anything to talk about.

REPORTER: Nobody is putting the words in his mouth.

CAPUTO: Yes, you just did.

REPORTER: He forwarded that email, did he not?

CAPUTO: Uh, I'm not going to tell you that that's one of the emails he forwarded. The only email in that group that was produced by the liberal Democrat hit machine that after him this week is one that he actually replied to. He recalled applying to. The other ones, we don't know the authenticity of it

After refusing to discuss the emails at length early Monday afternoon, Paladino called a late afternoon press conference to apologize.

"I confess to being human and imperfect, as are all of God's children," Paladino said. "I'm not a racist, and I say that even in some of the emails that they have hacked from my computer."

"To any of the ladies I've offended, I apologize," Paladino said. "I say this to any of the men out there who have never opened a graphic image on the internet, don't vote for me. For those who have, I welcome your vote."

Paladino, as he had earlier in the day (see below) insisted the baring of the e-mails on the internet was the work of liberal-democrat operatives bent on sabotaging his campaign. He further claimed those currently in power in Albany, whom he referred to as the "elite", are worried about his populist campaign and his prior vows to "tear down their fiefdom".

Asked by 2 On Your Side's Dave McKinley if he was worried whether those who agree with his message may now eschew him as a candidate because of the e-mail controversy, Paladino replied, "No."

Asked further if he regretted having forwarded the e-mails, Paladino said, "I regret having been somewhat careless in the way I re-sent e-mails that I received. I didn't originate any of these e-mails. Whenever I received an e-mail that was political, off color, politically incorrect , whatever, ...I sent it to a very specific bunch of friends who somewhat enjoy that sort of humor. "

Paladino, continuing to insist that the e-mails were made public to distract from his message and his self described growing support, also stated that unless someone supposed we are living in a "perfect" world that "sending out some e-mails that I re-sent from friends who sent them to me is not a crime or infraction in my book."

"You gotta have a perfect history, you can't have offended anybody, you can't have said anything that may be off color. Is that the kind of person - an absolute purest - we want representing us? I don't think so," Paladino said.


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