November 7, 2016
Leslie Danks Burke issued a statement last Thursday, about her opponent, State Senator Tom O’Mara allegedly having a conflict of interest and allegedly covering up for a chemical company that does business with the law firm O’Mara works at. Then, O’Mara came back at Danks Burke on Sunday afternoon, with an email that said that Leslie Danks Burke lied about growing up on a farm in Colorado. O’Mara says Leslie Danks Burke’s father was a Colorado lawyer while she was growing up, and that her father only started farm work after Leslie left for college. O’Mara went on to say that Danks Burke’s mailers about this was paid for by the Fund for Great Public Schools, the Political Action Committee of the New York State United Teachers union. O’Mara says the teachers union spent at least $250,000 in tv commercials and campaign mailings personally attacking him, and that NYSUT spent three million on statewide campaigns to get Democrats in control of the state senate. In response to what O’Mara said, Danks Burke replied that she cannot control what NYSUT does. She also sent out a video that shows her saying multiple times, saying that her parents started a farm after she got out of high school.
Leslie Danks Burke is in Hornell at Brandy’s Cup of Joe this morning at 8am.
O’Mara’s statement in full:
State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today called his opponent’s claim that she was “raised on a farm” an outright lie.
O’Mara has challenged this claim throughout the campaign. “Most farmers I know value honesty. That’s clearly not the case with my opponent. Our farmers could take Leslie’s story about being raised on a farm and spread it on their fields,” said O’Mara.
O’Mara added, “For most this campaign, we’ve had a positive and robust discussion about the future of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions with nine candidate forums and debates. In these closing days, my opponent’s campaign has desperately turned into a campaign of personal attacks and outright lies straight out of the playbook of the New York City Democrats. She’s received more than $250,000 in spending from the state teachers’ union on negative advertising and campaign mailings attacking me personally with blatantly misleading and outright lies. Our voters don’t respond to personal attacks. While it’s just a signal of a sinking campaign, as a native of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes I just thought it shouldn’t go unchallenged. There’s no place for that brand of gutter politics around here. There never has been, and I hope there never will be.”
Danks Burke’s latest campaign mailing is paid for on her behalf by a group called the “Fund for Great Public Schools,” which is the Political Action Committee of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union. The teachers’ union has spent at least $250,000 in television advertisements and campaign mailings personally attacking O’Mara and roughly $3 million statewide against Senate Republican candidates in a pledged effort to help Democrats gain control of the State Senate – and every branch of state government.
“One-party, New York City-based Democrat control was a nightmare for Upstate and yet my opponent and her deep-pocketed supporters are trying once again to lie their way back into power,” O’Mara said.
O’Mara particularly challenged Danks Burke’s claim, which she has used throughout her campaign and is using again her latest mailing (see attached), that she was “raised on a farm” in Colorado. He called her story an outright lie and further pointed to the fact that the family farmers that she claims her parents to be have in fact utilized farming as an entryway into obtaining lucrative, taxpayer-funded federal government subsidies in the amount of more than $1.5 million from 1995-2014.
“Leslie Danks Burke has portrayed herself as having grown up on a farm raised by hard-working farmers. It’s an outright lie and it’s demeaning to every farmer that I know who has truly spent his or her life in farming,” said O’Mara.
O’Mara charged that Danks Burke never grew up on a farm in Colorado. Her father, William, was an attorney in the city of Denver while Danks Burke was growing up. He remains a registered attorney but he and his wife, Noblet, did make a move to a farm north of Denver after their daughter left for college.
One long-time Denver publication, Westword, now a part of the Voice Media Group, in a February 28, 2002 article titled “Farmer on the dole,” wrote that Mr. Danks fits the “description of a farmer who earns a living despite his crops, not because of them.” In the article, Mr. Danks is quoted as saying, “If this were my real life, I couldn’t do it.”
This specific article examined a penchant among a number of Denver-area citizens, like Mr. Danks, who found farming an entryway to lucrative government subsidies. [See the following link to the article: http://www.westword.com/news/farmer-on-the-dole-5069262]
O’Mara said, “I’m proud of the case we’ve made on the merits of my record of commitment, experience and results. We’ve made a case on the strength of the issues, including my record of fighting for tax relief, manufacturing, job creation, infrastructure quality, conservation, schools, farmers, mandate relief, addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic, public safety and security, and so much more. I’m extremely proud of the positive campaign we’ve run. I believe it’s what the voters of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier deserve and expect, and I look forward to continue working with them for a better and stronger future.”
Leslie Danks-Burke’s full reply:
Mr. O’Mara should know that campaign finance laws prohibit him or me from controlling what any outside group says in an independent expenditure. He also knows, of course, because he’s heard me say it multiple times, that I did not grow up on a farm, and my parents have been farming full-time for a mere 22 years, since I graduated high school. I am extremely proud of my parents for everything they did to give me and my brothers the best life possible. They know the challenges that farmers deal with, and I’ve learned a lot from them, most importantly that we should listen to the farmers who have been doing this for generations.
Senator O’Mara and his downstate allies want me to stop talking about how much New York burdens our local farmers, but I’m not going to be silenced by political attacks on my family. Albany is not working for Southern Tier and Finger Lakes farmers, with local farmers going out of business and hamstrung by taxes and red tape. We need a change.