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Dems’ Campaign Video Sparks Ethical Debate

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By Claire Walla


On Tuesday, October 25 the Southampton Town GOP filed a claim against Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, alleging the board members violated the town’s code of ethics. Both women are up for re-election along with the newest member of their political team, Brad Bender, who is running for a second available council seat.

The GOP takes issue with scenes in a campaign video put out by the candidates, called “The Southampton Project,” which were filmed within Town Hall. According to Southampton Town GOP Chair William Wright, the scenes violate the ethics code because they make use of town property and feature a town employee (Throne-Holst’s assistant Jennifer Garvey, who speaks on the phone to the supervisor) for campaign purposes.

“This is not about whether I think the video is good or not, it violated town code,” Wright reiterated. “I know the other side says we’re grasping at straws, here … but we’re playing by the rules. They should be too.”

In an interview on Wednesday, Throne-Holst said the GOP claim is “baseless.”

“We were not filmed campaigning at town hall, or doing any sort of campaign work in the video,” she explained.

Southampton Democratic Committee Chair echoed Throne-Holst’s sentiments and downplayed the GOP’s claim.

“It’s pretty petty,” said Gordon Herr. “Anyway, the video’s already out there. It’s viral. [News of this claim] is probably going to make more people want to watch it.”

According to Southampton Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato, all four members of the town’s ethics board have been notified of the complaint. Scarlato could not speak to the suit, saying only that it’s in the hands of the ethics board, which has full authority to decide the case and determine what potential repercussions might be appropriate, should Throne-Holst and Fleming’s video be determined unethical.

Fleming is a Democrat. Throne-Holst is a member of the Independence Party as is Bender — both are also running on the Democratic Party Line.