Reckless Blunder in Baseless 11th Hour Attack

David Gruber, the head of a Democratic splinter group, is challenging the town Democratic Committee's choice in a Thursday primary. Durell Godfrey

Even in a one-sided dirty campaign this was a new low.

David Gruber, who is seeking the Democratic Party ballot line for East Hampton Town Board in Thursday’s primary, made an extraordinary blunder this week. In a mass email, as well as in Facebook messaging, he and his surrogates claimed that Mr. Gruber’s opponent, David Lys, did not tell the truth when he said that he had written in his father’s name for president in the 2016 election. 

In their divisive zeal to play a game of gotcha! Mr. Gruber’s supporters failed to check the facts before making an 11th-hour false claim. In doing so, they threw undeserved mud on an honest and hard-working rival. 

Mr. Gruber knew about the claim before it was made public, and has said the Reform Democrats did their homework. From all evidence, they did not. This is, at a minimum, reckless and does not belong in a town that prides itself on a community nature, or from a primary challenger who wants to be taken seriously.

Had he or his supporters looked into the facts surrounding Mr. Lys’s claim, they would have found that only the names of write-in candidates who let the board of elections know about their aspirations appear on official results. Mr. Lys’s father had not told the board of elections that he was a candidate so it had no reason to report his name. This makes sense; as a board of elections official told The Star, “Like ‘Mickey Mouse,’ we don’t note that down.”

Mr. Gruber owes Mr. Lys an apology. Out of arrogance perhaps, he failed to walk back the negative message once it was understood to be false, in effect, still claiming that Mr. Lys was a liar. That Mr. Gruber did not insist that the claim be vetted in advance and then failed to take responsibility once it was shown to be wrong leads us to conclude that he would not be a trustworthy member of the town board.