NEW YORK – New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s pathetic attack on funds raised by her challenger Suraj Patel, an Indian American entrepreneur, for the June Democratic primary, smacks of hypocrisy and racism. Coming from an incumbent member of Congress who represents one of the bluest districts in the US, it’s even more appalling.
In an interview to BuzzFeed News, Maloney, 72, (D-NY 12th District) downplayed Patel’s fundraising, saying his campaign disclosures contained a large number of people from his home state of Indiana and “a huge amount of the name Patel.”
“Well, it’s mainly from Indiana, where he’s from,” said Maloney when asked about Patel’s fundraising success. “Mainly a huge amount of the name Patel, which is his name,” she added.
Patel, 34, has so far outraised Maloney in a district that’s been redrawn in recent years to include parts of Brooklyn. He announced last month he’s raised more than $550,000, noted the BuzzFeed report.
According to opensecrets.org, Maloney has raised $460,000 in the current election cycle.
Asked what Maloney meant by the remark, Maloney’s spokesperson George Arzt told BuzzFeed News in a statement that Patel is “pretending like he’s running a local grassroots campaign, but the truth is only 1.3% of the half-million dollars he’s raised comes from the district.”
To make a political rival look like an outsider is a time and tested strategy. However, it’s disgusting of Maloney to try paint Patel as an Indian American who’s being helped only by his own ‘people’ in the primary.
Maloney would not dare single out a Patel or an Indian American by another name who has contributed to her campaign. And for sure, one will find many such donors, apart from businesses and corporates with Indian American and Asian ties, who’s opened up their wallet for her.
What’s next for the veteran Congresswoman: point out disparagingly that Indian American donors help strengthen the brown community by fundraising or contributing to fellow Indian American candidates?
Is that outside of the election rules, Congresswoman Maloney? Or is it that it’s hard for you to stomach such a scenario?
In fact, Maloney’s already got support for her run in the primaries from Reshma Saujani, reported New York Post. The Indian American lawyer and start-up entrepreneur was trounced by Maloney in a 2010 Democratic primary.
Patel, who was born in Mississippi and grew up in Indiana, is the president of the Indianapolis-based SUN Group, which acquires and develops hotels in the United States. He worked on both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns as an advance staffer. He also lectures at New York University.
His family comprises of many entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry. Some with the same last name as Patel has contributed to his campaign. His parents emigrated from India to the US in the 70s.
Patel came up with a smart retort to Maloney’s racist comment: “I guess I didn’t realize Rep. Maloney hired Steve Bannon as her campaign strategist,” he said. “Let’s let New York decide whether it’s more offensive to raise money from Patels and real people like I do or from corporate PACs and Donald Trump like she does,” he rationalized.
Patel added: “I’m a proud first-generation Indian-American, and grateful to have the support of Americans of all backgrounds who believe we need new energy and new ideas in Washington.”
This is not the first time Maloney has let slip a racist comment in a race.
In July, 2009, days before she was to announce a challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Maloney used the N-word in an interview. She apologized for her indiscretion but the damage was done. She withdrew from the race soon after.
In a statement, the Rev. Al Sharpton had then lambasted Maloney saying her use of the word was “alarming,” reported New York Daily News.
Maloney’s campaign is also not that ‘liberal’ when it comes to running ads. It seems they like to cut across the political spectrum.
City & State reported that Maloney’s campaign ad has been spotted on the right-wing news site Breitbart.
Interestingly, Maloney had once termed Breitbart as “a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists.”
Perhaps, Maloney’s ethics and outlook are lopsided when it comes to her own race. The sheen of being liberal, encompassing diversity, is a lot of bull. It wears off like makeup on a hot summer day out in the open.
Patel, despite his impressive war chest, may not have the name recognition to mount a strong challenge to Maloney in the primaries.
But Indian Americans should remember Maloney’s contempt for the community; ask her for an apology.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)