Danny O’Donnell falsely claims public advocate endorsements

New York State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell
New York State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell
Courtesy New York State Assembly
New York State Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell.

Danny O’Donnell falsely claims public advocate endorsements

Michael Blake picks up new round of elected officials.
February 5, 2019

Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell incorrectly claimed at least two elected officials were endorsing his run for New York City public advocate. Now one is denying he endorsed O’Donnell and another is endorsing his opponent.

A Dec. 19 press release from the O’Donnell campaign listed 12 endorsements, including then-U.S. Rep.-elect Anthony Brindisi and Queens Assemblywoman Michele Titus.

Brindisi’s name was included again in a Jan. 8 press release from the O’Donnell campaign. But after City & State published a list of public advocate endorsements, Brindisi spokeswoman Macey Matthews told City & State in a Jan. 15 email that Brindisi, who has since assumed his new office, had not endorsed O’Donnell. Asked for more information about the mistake, Matthews reiterated: “Congressman Brindisi has not made any endorsements in the public advocate race.”

Brindisi wasn’t the only politician surprised to see their name on O’Donnell’s endorsement list. Titus’ name was included among O’Donnell’s endorsers in the Dec. 19 press release, but did not appear on the Jan. 8 press release, and does not appear among O’Donnell’s list of endorsements on his campaign website. On Tuesday, public advocate candidate and fellow Assemblyman Michael Blake’s campaign shared with City & State a list of elected officials endorsing Blake. Among them: Michele Titus.

The release included a quote from Titus reading in part, “Michael's oratorical skills will inspire and motivate people into action, which is exactly what we need in our next public advocate.”

That may sound definitive, but the confusion doesn’t end there. A spokeswoman for the O’Donnell campaign said that O’Donnell talked to Titus on Tuesday, and that she told him she was not endorsing Blake.

Titus did not respond to a request for comment. Doug Forand, spokesman for O’Donnell’s campaign, told City & State Tuesday that O’Donnell talked to both Brindisi and Titus back in December and “felt that they had indicated their support.”

“They apparently have a different recollection of those conversations,” said Forand, “and we certainly respect that decision on their part.”

O’Donnell, Blake and Titus are all Democratic members of the state Assembly. Brindisi, also a Democrat, was an assemblyman until being elected to Congress last year.

Blake announced a number of other endorsements Tuesday, including from former state Comptroller Carl McCall, the first black statewide elected official in New York. Blake, who represents a district in the Central Bronx, also announced the support of fellow Bronxites Rep. Eliot Engel, state Sen. Jamaal Bailey, Assembly members Jeff Dinowitz, Carmen Arroyo and José Rivera, and New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres. He also announced endorsements from Queens politicians including Rep. Greg Meeks, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman and – maybe – Michele Titus.

Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.