Anagnostakis, Skoufis blast Basile for Mercer ties

Republican Senate candidate Tom Basile caught flak from two directions on Tuesday when rival Republican Mike Anagnostakis and Democrat James Skoufis both unloaded on him on Tuesday for his links to the wealthy family that funds the conservative Breitbart news site and a conservative advocacy group in New York.

Anagnostakis, an Orange County legislator waging a GOP primary race with Basile for the 39th Senate District seat, went first with a press release that listed some heinous, misogynistic Breitbart headlines, all for columns by Milo Yiannopoulos, such as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?” Anagnostakis proclaimed his support for a constitutional amendment banning gender discrimination – a proposal that he said Senate Republican leaders have blocked – and accused his opponent of having ties to “vile and hateful extremists.”

“It is alarming that Mr. Basile – who has earned a living from, and collaborated with, the vile Breitbart outlet – wants to come to Orange County and be the representative voice of our fine citizens!” he wrote.

Skoufis, an assemblyman from Woodbury who will face the Republican primary winner in the November election, later weighed in with a statement declaring Basile a “puppet of anti-women extremists,” melding his connections with the Mercer family to a clash in the Senate that day over stalled legislation to codify abortion rights and ensure contraception coverage. That conflict led to the spectacle of male Republican senators berating Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was presiding over the Senate.

“Where is Tom Basile denouncing the anti-women actions taken today by the State Senate?” Skoufis asked. “Where is Tom Basile denouncing the misogynistic, vile articles on Breitbart and other outlets he contributes to?”

Basile’s campaign accused Anagnostakis of “playing fast and loose with the facts and making outrageous personal attacks” against Basile in its first response, which dubbed Anagnostakis “James Skoufis’ pit bull.”

“Making over-the-top and irresponsible statements to further his political agenda is not only offensive to Mr. Basile, his wife and his family, but to anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence, hate crime or discrimination,” the campaign statement read. “People are tired of folks like Mr. Anagnostakis shouting insults and saying anything to get attention.”

Basile, a communications consultant and Stony Point councilman, has written political opinion pieces that were posted on Breitbart, but wasn’t paid for them and hasn’t contributed any pieces to the site in more than three years, according to his campaign. He used to be an officer for Reclaim New York, the nonprofit funded by the Mercers, but left that position in 2016 and now advises the group through his consulting firm, Empire Solutions, his campaign said. Until recently, Reclaim New York listed Basile as a senior advisor for policy on its website, and its latest tax form shows it paid Empire Solutions $109,347 in 2016.

Rebekah Mercer donated $18,000 to Basile’s Senate campaign in January, according to the disclosure report he filed that month with the state Board of Elections.

In a response to Skoufis, Basile accused the Democratic assemblyman of supporting excessive state spending and voting for “policies like socialized medicine and ‘free college.’”

“His attacks are a smokescreen to prevent hard-working people in our area from realizing that for all his talk, he has failed time and time again to deliver on his promises,” Basile said. “If Mr. Skoufis actually cared about the needs of women in our area, he’d be fighting to help lower taxes, reduce spending and provide a greater opportunity for our families to stay here.”

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