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Gotham Votes 2013

Brooklyn Candidate Alleges Dirty Tricks In Council Race

The Democratic primary for Brooklyn's 48th district may be over, but one of the candidates is crying foul over what he alleges were dirty tricks used in the race.

Ari Kagan, who came in second in the race to represent neighborhoods like Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, says one of his rivals was behind a campaign to disinform Russian-speaking voters in the heavily Russian immigrant neighborhoods.

The campaign took the form of Russian-language robo-calls purporting to identify Kagan as an agent of the former Soviet Union's KGB and mailers that falsely claimed that voting poll sites had been moved. He also discusses his allegations on his website.

"It suppressed the turnout," Kagan told the Gotham Gazette last week. He declined to say on the record who he thought was behind the campaign, but said, "The person who did it knew perfectly well how the system works, who to call and how to call them."

In a complaint Kagain said he filed in state Supreme Court, Kagan alleges that an unknown group sent Russian-language mailers to Russian-speaking voters notifying them that their poll sites had been relocated. Kagan provided a copy of the complaint to the Gotham Gazette.

He also alleges in the complaint that between March 11, 2013, and Sept. 10, 2013, several Russian-language calls were made to voters "falsely advised" that Kagan was an employee of the Soviet/Russian KGB. The neighborhoods of the 48th district are home to many former Soviet refugees, many of them elderly. There were also fliers distributed that Kagan says falsely identified him as a socialist.

He said he had also filed his complaint with the Board of Elections. A spokeswoman confirmed the agency had received a complaint.

Chaim Deutsch, the former chief of staff of the current term-limited 48th district seat holder, won the primary election with 3,317 votes, according to the certified results. Kagan got 2,912 votes.

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