A spokeswoman for Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker’s U.S. Senate campaign on Tuesday denied an accusation from his Republican rival, Steve Lonegan, that Booker once owned a “crack house.”
Silvia Alvarez, the deputy communications director of Booker’s campaign, told TPM that the attack was part of a pattern of dishonesty from Lonegan.
“There’s one thing that has remained consistent throughout all of Mr. Lonegan’s many campaigns stunts: it’s his inability to tell the truth,” Alvarez said. “The mayor purchased a property to renovate but ultimately went with a lower-cost option in Newark and donated the Court Street house to one of Newark’s best known and most effective charities. Efforts to cast in a negative light this act of charity, or the work the mayor has done to revitalize Newark, are unfortunate and misleading.”
Lonegan’s accusation, which he plans to address at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, was based on multiple newspaper reports about a property Booker acquired in 2009 and subsequently sold to a non-profit he founded earlier this year. Both the New York Post and the Bergen Record reported neighbors have complained about “squatters” at the property while it was owned by Booker. One neighbor told the Post she wrote “many many letters to [Booker] about squatters in the yard, people using drugs.”
A spokesman for Lonegan’s campaign told TPM they will address the accusation that the property was a “crack house” in greater detail at the press conference. On Twitter, Rick Shaftan, a senior staffer for Lonegan’s campaign suggested the presence of squatters clearly indicated drug activity at the property.
“Squatters = Crackheads. Only the most naive liberals think otherwise,” Shaftan wrote.