Updated: State Sen. Marty Golden’s brushes with controversy

Marty Golden
Marty Golden
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Marty Golden

Updated: State Sen. Marty Golden’s brushes with controversy

Golden has a long history of getting himself into hot water
October 17, 2018

As state Sen. Martin Golden fends off a spirited challenge from Democrat Andrew Gounardes, he has once again found himself mired in controversy. On Friday Nov. 2, just days before the election, Golden’s campaign posted a “public safety notice” on Twitter and Facebook saying that voter plan forms handed out by the Gounardes campaign could be used by burglars to target when voters wouldn’t be home. The forms ask voters to put down their address and the general time of day – “morning,” “afternoon” – that they plan to vote, which is a fairly common practice in get out the vote operations. The Gounardes campaign said voters are meant to keep the forms themselves. Gounardes fired back with a video calling it a “ridiculous bunch of garbage… that smacks of desperation,” and that “Marty Golden should be ashamed of himself” for fear mongering.

This is hardly the first time Golden’s actions, or those of his close associates, have landed him in hot water. The Brooklyn Republican even has a separate section on his Wikipedia page listing his controversies. Here is a rundown of Golden’s other notable controversies since he joined the state Senate in 2003.

2008The Village Voice reported that Golden had spent $205,000 of his campaign cash at the Bay Ridge Manor, a catering hall he formerly owned. Although Golden had sold the venue upon his election in 2002, the new owner was his brother. Golden remained the landlord for the Bay Ridge Manor and collects a management fee. His office did not comment.

2012 – Golden advertised a seminar for women called “Posture, Deportment, and the Feminine Presence,” which would have taught necessary professional skills such as how to how to “sit, stand, and walk like a model” and “walk up and down a stair elegantly.” The event was allegedly focused on career development, and was promoted through taxpayer-funded mailers. Taxpayers did not get ultimately pay for the class to be taught, as it was canceled amid controversy. A spokesman said that the event was important for teaching people with advanced degrees “to set themselves apart in the workplace.”

2014 – Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District, investigated Golden’s campaign finances. It was later reported that Golden used $31,000 in campaign funds for legal representation during the probe. Golden confirmed that his campaign finances were being investigated at the time.

2015 – Golden, a conservative who voted against same-sex marriage in the state in 2011, shared a controversial joke on his personal Facebook page after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. The joke read: “It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana being legalized on the same day. Leviticus 20:13 – ‘if a man lays with another man he should be stoned.’ We’ve just been interpreting it wrong all these years.” Marijuana and same-sex marriage were not legalized on the same day. Golden later deleted the post. His office did not comment.

February 2017 – While defending President Donald Trump’s late January ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries, Golden incorrectly said that many hijackers lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, before they carried out the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. A spokesman for Golden later said that the senator had confused the 9/11 attack with the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center, in which one of the perpetrators lived in Bay Ridge. That neighborhood has the highest concentration of Muslim residents in Brooklyn. Furthermore, none of the hijackers came from countries listed by Trump’s travel ban.

June 2017 – Golden endorsed his longtime staffer, John Quaglione, to replace the term-limited New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile. When he could not remember the name of Quaglione’s Democratic challenger, Justin Brannan, he referred to Brannan as “fat boy.” He then turned to his campaign manager and said he wished he had been known he was sitting with reporters, despite the event where he was speaking being billed as a “press-only sit down.” Golden warned the reporter who caught him insulting Brannan that if she published it, he would never sit down with her again. Brannan went on to win the race.

December 2017 Records reveal that Quaglione spent $13,000 at the Bay Ridge Manor during his campaign. Financial disclosure forms from 2016 had shown that Golden earned between $145,000 and $270,000 from income connected to the catering hall. His office did not comment.

December 2017 – Golden yelled at a cyclist when his driver attempted to enter the bicycle lane. When the cyclist, Brian Howald, told Golden that entering the lane was illegal, Golden allegedly claimed that he was a police officer and waved a parking placard as proof. After Howald moved over, Golden’s driver rode in the lane. Howald repeatedly caught up to the car and asked Golden what precinct he was from, and the state senator refused to answer. His driver ran a red light to avoid Howald. The license plate number of the vehicle was associated with over 30 traffic violations in four years. Golden later said on NY1 that the incident was an example of “cyclist road rage,” and denied that he claimed to be a cop. This was not Golden’s first incident in an automobile. In 2004, Golden struck a 74-year-old woman with a car. Police said the woman was crossing the street against the light, and Golden visited her while in the hospital. She died a few months later. The Daily News later reported that Golden had paid out $750,000 to settle a 2008 lawsuit brought by the victim’s estate.

January 2018 – Golden, who has served on the state Senate’s Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, was accused of racism after he said that opioids weren’t a “ghetto drug,” because they were being used by “doctors’ kids.” This was seen by many to be a racial dog whistle, implying that opioids were being used by white kids. A spokesman said that it was wrong to “minimize” Golden’s commitment to combating addiction.

March 2018 – A staffer to Golden compared a student protesting gun violence to Hitler on social media. Golden quickly addressed the post, releasing a statement denouncing the post and saying that it had been taken down the same day it came to light. He dismissed the aide, Anthony Testaverde, the following day.

October 2018 – Ian Reilly, the Republican activist who approved the controversial appearance of outspoken misogynist and Islamophobic pundit and activist Gavin McInnes at a Manhattan Republican club, is on Golden’s payroll as his campaign office manager. McInnes’ speech at the Metropolitan Republican Club spurred violence between members of the group he founded, the Proud Boys, and antifa protesters. Despite calls for Golden to fire Reilly, the senator stood by his staffer.

October 2018, Part II – During a recent debate with Democrat Andrew Gounardes, the candidates were asked about a new New York City law that adds a third gender option to birth certificates. Gounardes said he believes people should be able to identify however they feel most comfortable. Golden followed up by saying “I feel like I’m dealing with martian from Mars here. Ladies and gentlemen, male, female, birth certificate, very simple.” It sounded like he was calling transgender people aliens, although a spokesman for Golden said the senator was only referring to his opponent. Regardless of who exactly he was insulting, Golden undeniably asserted that support for transgender rights is bizarre and outlandish – a statement many would find offensive.

Grace Segers
is City & State’s digital reporter. She writes daily content on New York City and New York state politics.
Rebecca C. Lewis
is an editorial assistant at City & State.
Jeff Coltin
is a staff reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
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