Embattled former State Assemblyman Vito Lopez is continuing his run for City Council despite the widely reported claims against him by multiple female staffers and repeated calls for him to leave the race.
Now it appears his campaign is falsely claiming support from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a mailer featuring a doctored photo.
Lopez stepped down after an ethics committee produced a 68-page report detailing sexual harassment accusations by female staffers. One of the incidents described a female staffer who had confided in Lopez that she had been raped in college, in the hopes of warding off his advances, only to have him advise her to be more "adventurous" and ask her to massage his hand. When she cried, Lopez reportedly responded by saying, "I like that you're holding my hand."
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Despite all of that, a new mailer from Lopez's campaign for City Council seems to suggest that Clinton, often a champion of women's issues, is backing Lopez.
The mailer does not explicit claim an endorsement from Clinton, but prominently features a photo of Lopez and Clinton in front of an "Elect Lopez" banner. In the photo, Lopez is gesturing to Clinton and Clinton has her arms raised.
But reports indicate the photo is actually from a Diana Reyna campaign event, and the banner in reality read "Elect Diana Reyna." Even the head of an individual in the center of the photo appears to have been replaced with the head of a different person.
There is perhaps a shadow of a chance that the photo is authentic and that is Hillary Clinton's "endorsing" stance, but given the mailer-manipulation is being reported by the New York Daily News and a photographer for the New York Daily News took the original Diana Reyna campaign photo, it seems likely the News knows what they're talking about.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat