All Congress candidates take pledge not to lie

The three candidates to represent New York's 21st Congressional District are incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican who calls Willsboro home; Lynn Kahn of Schroon Lake, running on the Green Party line; and Tedra Cobb, a Democrat from Canton. (Photos provided)

All three candidates in northern New York’s Congress race have accepted a pledge not to lie in the four months left of campaigning until the Nov. 6 election.

The Post-Star newspaper of Glens Falls had asked the candidates in New York’s 21st Congressional District to promise they would not lie in any way: to the media, to voters, in advertisements or on social media. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican who calls Willsboro home, took the pledge on Twitter Thursday afternoon. Green Party candidate Lynn Kahn of Schoon Lake did so by email that evening. Democrat Tedra Cobb of Canton had done so in a letter to the editor she submitted to the Post-Star July 5 and reiterated the support in a phone interview with the paper July 6.

The Post-Star announced the pledge in an editorial July 1, five days after Cobb won the June 26 Democratic Party primary and Stefanik’s campaign publicly ramped up. The Enterprise reprinted the editorial on its Opinion page July 3. Guest contributions to that page do not reflect the opinion of the Enterprise, but the Enterprise backed the pledge in its own editorial Thursday.

Later Thursday on Twitter, Stefanik said her campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar had previously agreed to the pledge on her behalf in a message to the Post-Star, but the newspaper had not published it. After the primary, the Post-Star adopted a policy of not quoting campaign staffers as surrogates for candidates when the question is intended for the candidate. The Enterprise has also adopted this policy, as stated in its editorial Thursday.

“And again re: the pledge to #NY21 – the answer as originally provided by my campaign – and here again from me is: Of course. I have earned the support at the ballot box twice and will continue to work hard to deliver results for #NY21,” Stefanik tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Alcivar clarified that the “Of course” referred to accepting the no-lying pledge.

The Post-Star had not directly reached out to Kahn. Reached by email Thursday evening, she wrote back that she would promise not to lie.

“Pretty sad that political candidates have to pledge not to lie!” she wrote. “Personally, I have a reputation for being brutally honest. Maybe from my experience as a clinical psychologist and organizational consultant. If asked, I would of course sign the pledge. However, no one’s asked me. I guess I’m still flying under the radar.”

On July 6, after Cobb accepted the pledge, Post-Star reporter Michael Goot emailed Alcivar asking for Stefanik’s response to it. Alcivar instead offered a quote from himself, similar to the comment Stefanik made on Twitter Thursday: “Of course, Congresswoman Stefanik has overwhelmingly earned the trust of her constituents who re-elected her with a record margin. Congresswoman Stefanik is proud of her record of real results for her district.”

Goot told Alcivar the paper’s new policy required him to only publish a statement from the candidate herself, not her spokesperson. Alcivar said that wasn’t possible on short notice and that the campaign expected the Post-Star to use his quote instead.

In the next day’s article, the Post-Star reported that “Stefanik has not formally responded,” adding, “Stefanik campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar did not make the congresswoman available or provide a statement from her directly on Friday.”

That day, July 7, Stefanik echoed Alcivar’s quote in a tweet: “For the record -> My campaign provided the following statement which the Post Star chose not to publish: ‘Of course. Congresswoman Stefanik has overwhelmingly earned the trust of her constituents who re-elected her with a record margin.'”

Thursday, however, was the first time Stefanik accepted the pledge herself, aside from quoting her campaign staff.

Her tweet Thursday was part of a series challenging Cobb’s honesty, regarding a recent video posted on a national conservative website. The video shows Cobb at a campaign event at a house in May, telling teenagers she personally supports an assault weapons ban but does not say so publicly for fear of losing the election.

“My opponent says one thing in private, & another in public,” Stefanik tweeted Thursday. “Just days after pledging to be honest with voters, my opponent was caught on camera saying that she must lie to voters in order to get elected.”

Cobb, in a statement to the Watertown Daily Times, said she’s not trying to pass an assault weapons ban because it would be impossible with the current Congress and president, so instead she’s focusing on gun-control measures more people agree on.

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