Carl Paladino is running for Congress, and his opponents, Democrat and Republican alike, are rushing to remind voters of the real estate developer’s history of making racist remarks and sharing pornographic emails with friends.
They need not delve so deeply into the past.
Just last Wednesday, Paladino shared a Facebook post suggesting mass shootings such as those in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, might be “false flag” operations, orchestrated by government agencies like the FBI and CIA, using “hypnosis training,” as justification “to revoke the 2nd amendment and take away our guns.”
Paladino initially told Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy that he did not write the post sharing the conspiracy theories and had “no idea” how it appeared on his page, which has since been deleted.
Trouble is, Paladino emailed the screed, too, sharing it with an anonymous list of friends and associates.
Confronted with the additional evidence of the email — a copy of which was forwarded to Investigative Post — Paladino was compelled to reverse his denial.
“Yes, I did it,” he told McCarthy Wednesday afternoon. “I just didn’t remember the fact that I published it; I couldn’t remember.”
Paladino’s penchant for sharing controversial and pornographic content with this same email list helped derail his bid for governor in 2010, according to a post-election interview with Michael Caputo, his campaign manager.
A recipient forwarded Paladino’s June 1 email to Investigative Post.
The Facebook post, also dated June 1, was first reported by Eric Hananoki of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning nonprofit media watchdog organization:
Carl Paladino, whose new House campaign has the support of Elise Stefanik, shared a FB post claiming the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde were false flags and “the Texas shooter was receiving hypnosis training” apparently under the CIA’s direction. https://t.co/T5Ac3MCNwB pic.twitter.com/ZTQ9ee32FR
— Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) June 7, 2022
The item Paladino shared was first posted to Facebook March 31 by its author, Jeff Briggs, a Rochester investment advisor:
On June 3, two days after Paladino shared Briggs’s post, U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs withdrew as a candidate in the 23rd Congressional district.
A week earlier, Jacobs had announced that he would support gun control legislation proposed by House and Senate Democrats in the wake of the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres. In the days that followed, Jacobs lost the support of the Republican and Conservative party leaders who previously had endorsed his reelection to Congress.
So Jacobs dropped out. Paladino declared his candidacy the same day.
So did New York State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, previously more ally than rival to the wealthy real estate developer. Langworthy was a champion of Paladino’s run for governor in 2010, when Langworthy led Erie County’s Republican Party.
Together they lobbied Donald Trump to run for governor in 2014. Both were involved in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Both have been instrumental in steering the state and local Republican party rightward, as Trump has done with the national party.
And both have sought Trump’s endorsement, though so far the former president has expressed no preference between his two stalwarts.
Paladino and Langworthy are expected to qualify for the August 23 primary election, vying for the Republican and Conservative ballot lines in November. Langworthy won the Conservative Party’s endorsement this week.
One Democrat has entered the race: Tioga County Democratic Party Chairman Max Della Pia, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. Last weekend Della Pia visited Buffalo, though it is outside the district, and had his picture taken with local Democratic elected officials.
The newly drawn 23rd district favors Republicans by more than 13 percentage points, making it the most conservative Congressional district in the state. The district includes much of the state’s Southern Tier, then shoots northward to take in Orchard Park, Hamburg and Lackawanna, as well as towns as far east and north of the city as Clarence.