Both campaigns in the heat of competition for New York’s 17th congressional district have condemned last-minute robocalls purportedly representing “The Great Rabbi,” a message that appears to be aimed at exploiting the region’s Orthodox Jewish residents versus non-Jewish residents tensions between.
The last minute call claimed:
“In the name of our great rabbi, we urge you to vote for Sean Maloney in Congress. Sean has a strong track record of supporting our community in Kiryas Joel .He fought the surrounding towns and villages that were trying to stop the expansion of multifamily housing in our community. He received tens of millions of dollars to build low-income housing in our community. He promised our leaders that, if elected, he would The community of Rockland County doing the same, please show your support and vote for Sean Maloney for Congress.”
Maloney is currently a member of Congress for New York’s 18th Congressional District, which includes Kirias Joel, a predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, but New York’s congressional map has been redrawn for the 2022 election. Maloney is running to represent the newly drawn 17th Congressional District, which includes Rockland County, another county with a large Jewish community.
In Orange County, where Kiryas Joel is located, there is tension between the Orthodox Jewish community, one of the poorest on paper in America, and surrounding communities. In 2018, after years of zoning lawsuits and conflicts, the community was separated from the town of Monroe. While Maloney helps the Kiryas Joel community raise money for local infrastructure projects, there is no evidence that he supports the community’s zoning struggle.
CNN obtained a copy of the robocall. The call was first reported on Sunday by Jewish publication Forward. According to anti-robocalling app Nomorobo, an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 calls from phone-related numbers made calls on Sunday night to those with 845 area codes — which are parts of the area where Maloney is operating, including Rockland County .
The messages reviewed by CNN failed to identify in the introduction who paid for the call and provided a callback number, a violation of FCC rules on autodial or prerecorded voice political campaign calls. The number that was called is no longer a work number.
A spokesman for Maloney called the call an “anti-Semitic smear.”
Mia Ehrenberg, a spokeswoman for Maloney, told CNN: “This robocall has no connection or authorization to our campaign.”
Maloney’s opponent, Republican Congressman Mike Laura, told the forward that the call was “complete nonsense,” adding that “I don’t condone it,” his spokesman, Bill O’Reilly, told CNN, ” These are not from us.”