A new flyer being mailed across the East End on behalf of Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is leaving some Democrats scratching their heads.
The direct mailer features Mr. Zeldin speaking with several local business owners, including Suffolk County Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) at the Krupski family farm in Peconic. The flyer, entitled “East End update,” includes Mr. Zeldin’s initiatives related to local issues, including Long Island Sound funding and blocking the federal sale of Plum Island.
Mr. Krupski said he was surprised to see the image of Mr. Zeldin speaking with him and his son, Nick, captured during a tour of the farm last August. According to a press release from 2017, Mr. Zeldin visited Krupski Farm as part of an economic growth tour, during which he discussed agriculture and economic policies with the Krupskis.
“Normally, when someone wants to use your image for their campaign, they do the courtesy of asking you,” Mr. Krupski said in a phone call Thursday. “This was not the case.”
According to Mr. Krupski, he was happy to host Mr. Zeldin at the farm. “Any time an elected official wants insight into agriculture, we’re more than willing to host them and to educate them on what agriculture is really like,” he said.
Mr. Zeldin’s office said that the mailer is non-campaign related, but an official mailer that must earn approval by both Republicans and Democrats who serve on the Franking Commission, a part of the House Administration Committee.
A spokesperson for Mr. Zeldin said that he uses a “multi-faceted” approach to keep constituents updated on his work in Congress, including emails, physical mailers such as this one, and in-person meetings.
“This partisan issue over a photo that has been in the public domain for a year is petty partisan politics at its worst,” said Katie Vincentz, communications director for Mr. Zeldin.
“It’s absurd. Instead of playing politics, we should all be working together to get work done for our constituents,” she said late Thursday night.
According to the commission, physical mailers are permitted to be sent until August 8, when a “blackout” goes into effect for the 90 days before the general election.
Southold Town Democratic Committee Chair Kathryn Casey expressed concern that, nearing November’s election, it may read as an endorsement. “[Mr. Zeldin], in his typically unscrupulous fashion, took advantage of [the Krupskis’] good name to serve his own needs,” Ms. Casey said in an email Thursday. “I hope that voters will see this scheme for what it is: an attempt to trick and manipulate the voters Zeldin is supposed to honestly represent.”
In the future, “We’re going to ask him not to use any more of our pictures without our permission,” Mr. Krupski said, but said he would rather stay focused on the issues at hand. “This in no way affects our working relationship with the congressman and his office. We’ll continue to work together,” he said.