State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Borough Park, Midwood, Flatbush, Kensington, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst) today confirmed that one of his top aides sent a constituent an email with a link to a right-wing media outlet claiming the alleged driver of the car that killed a young woman during the Charlottesville protests is in reality a Hillary Clinton supporter funded by left-wing hedge funder George Soros.
James Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, allegedly killed Heather Heyer, 32, and injured 19 others after plowing his car into a group of protesters on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia. While all major media outlets reported that Fields has neo-nazi ties, Darlene Leder, Felder’s Albany Director of Operations, disputed this when constituent Eliana Meirowitz Nelson called her.
Leder then sent Nelson a link to the right-wing conspiracy outlet News Punch, which makes the bizarre conspiracy claim of Fields’ ties to Clinton and Soros.
“When I read the article I was totally shocked. It was so much further off the deep end than I’d even guessed,” said Nelson, adding she had friends in Charlottesville that day protesting the neo-nazis and white supremacists.
Felder, whose district was one of the few in Brooklyn, that President Donald Trump carried in the recent presidential election, caucuses with the Senate Republicans even though he is a Democrat. This vexes mainstream and progressive Democrats, who feel that Felder’s affiliation is keeping the Democrats in the Senate minority.
Nelson is a member of NY State District 17 For Progress, a progressive group of Democrats in Felder’s district, loosely affiliated with the Working Families Party. As such they have been actively picketing and lobbying Felder and his staff for his votes against such state initiatives as creating a single payer healthcare system, providing more support for undocumented immigrants, instituting a 5-cent fee on plastic bags, as well as against Felder’s support for raising the speed limit along Ocean Parkway from its current 25 to 35 mph.
Most recently, Nelson, has lobbied Felder’s office for a Felder statement deploring the neo-nazis and white supremacists actions in Charlottesville, as well as Trumps initial failure to speak out against these groups.
“While she (Leder) was very friendly, when I asked her why Felder hadn’t said anything against Nazis and white supremacists, she said she didn’t understand why it was necessary. Trump had already spoken out against it and was very clear. I strongly disagreed with her and gave a few examples of how Trump’s condemnation was equivocating and that there is no indication that he is anti-Nazi at all. I told her even Paul Ryan was speaking out against what Trump said,” said Nelson.
“Darlene disagreed and proceeded to tell me that she had been hearing that the Charlottesville rally and violence was actually a manufactured setup between the Charlottesville mayor and the police. She said that the killer who drove into the crowd and killed Heather Heyer was actually a Hillary supporter. I was flabbergasted and told her that none of that was true, that I have friends who were there, and that what she was saying was crazy, conspiracy-theory nonsense.”
Nelson said it was after this conversation that Leder sent her the email.
When confronted with a copy of the email exchange, Felder admitted it was made and said he was just as dumbstruck by it.
“I don’t agree with her [Leder] email and I don’t know why anyone would send anything from such a crazy website. I will discuss my dissatisfaction with her shortly,” said Felder. “I, as well as any decent human being, deplore any form of racism, nazism, anti-Semitism and white supremacists. I was also upset by some of Trump’s comments, but I don’t think he should be impeached.”
Nelson said she feels Felder is not representing the constituents of his district in a proper manner, and the organizations she is associated with will very likely put up somebody to run against him in next year’s state elections.
To which, Felder replied, “That’s what elections are there for. One can’t please everyone all the time. I try to serve my constituents as best as possible. I appreciate her [Nelson’s] feedback and that’s it.”