« Fields flier stand-in identified | Main | Good Morning, Mr. Mayor »

To the Barricades! Rangel knows no facts!

We knew that after his waffling performance on the West Side Stadium, but in a New York Times story, Representative Charles Rangel, often seen as Virginia Fields' political rabbi, called the Times to say, "I have no idea of the facts..."

The Times points out that Joseph Mercurio's emails to the campaign do not establish an explicit directive from Fields or campaign staffers to doctor the photos, but do not exclude that as a possibility either. However, if the emails are authentic, they would establish that Fields and her senior campaign advisors either knew about the doctored photos, or should have known about them. This would contradict recent statements from Fields and her campaign that they did not know about the doctored photos until last week.

For the Times article, click below.

Update: Articles from the News and Post also available, click the link below.

Fired Aide Releases E-Mail Notes He Sent to Fields
NY Times
by Randal C. Archibold
July 14, 2005

Just as C. Virginia Fields was trying to move past questions about a doctored campaign photo, her former chief political consultant released a string of e-mail correspondence yesterday that he said buttressed his claim that she should have known about the altered photo.

Joseph C. Mercurio, the fired consultant, released five e-mail messages that he said were sent directly to Ms. Fields and several of her lieutenants. They were dated from March to June and included the doctored photo, which was used in a campaign flier.

He said the messages would counter Ms. Fields's contention that she became aware only last week that the photo included stock images. She fired him and dismissed the company that produced the photos, Winning Directions, after news organizations brought the doctoring to light.

The photo was edited to include images of Asian-Americans in a group of diverse supporters to further her campaign theme of having broad ethnic and racial support.

"She obviously forgot now that there had been versions distributed back then," Mr. Mercurio said in an interview, and he went on to suggest that her campaign advisers were mishandling the situation. "So much for her internal audit of the process."

He added: "The accusation is I did this on my own and did not tell anybody and she just found out about it Wednesday morning. They had to prove their hands were clean and got rid of offending people. I don't know if they forgot what happened back in March or just are not experienced with dealing with crisis management."

Questions about what Ms. Fields knew of the photo, and when, have dogged her mayoral campaign for a week, and have led to further questions about her credibility, her management style in handling the situation, and her oversight of campaign details.

In response to Mr. Mercurio's statements, Ms. Fields's campaign officials said that she did not see the doctored photo because she did not make a practice of reviewing campaign material by e-mail, and that Mr. Mercurio surely would have known that. The campaign officials said that aides in her borough presidency office served as informal campaign advisers but that they did not scrutinize campaign photos; a spokesman for the aides said they were not aware the photos had been doctored.

"Virginia Fields does not review drafts of campaign literature in e-mail," said a statement from her press secretary, Kirsten Powers. "As is true with many candidates, she reviews all drafts of campaign literature in hard copy. She was paying Joe Mercurio $15,000 a month for his political services, and this included overseeing the campaign literature process, and the use of the photo in question was his decision.

"She was outraged to learn last week that the photo was doctored with stock images," the statement continued, "and she made a decision about who was responsible and took action. She never saw the photo before it was doctored. At no point did Mercurio disclose that the photo in the literature had been doctored. His attempts to blame this on other people are shameful and must stop."

Representative Charles B. Rangel, one of Ms. Fields's most important and influential supporters, rose to her defense, attacking Mr. Mercurio's motives in an unsolicited telephone call to a reporter.

"I have no idea of the facts, but I have never heard in all my years of a consultant who would breach a relationship with a client and attack them politically," Mr. Rangel said.

He suggested that Mr. Mercurio was bitter about Ms. Fields's refusal to keep him on. "He is going to hurt himself more than anybody else, and I encourage Virginia not to get involved in a debate," he said.

Ms. Fields has declined to give a detailed account of her review of the flier, saying she did not wish to debate with Mr. Mercurio.

Though they do not concretely show that Ms. Fields or her aides ordered the photo manipulation or even were aware of it, the e-mail messages keep alive a story the campaign has hoped would go away.

The March 15 e-mail message includes a draft of a flier with a photo of Ms. Fields at a news conference amid a diverse tableau of supporters. The message was sent to the personal e-mail accounts of Ms. Fields, who is the Manhattan borough president; Barbara Baer, the deputy borough president; and Luther Smith, the chief of staff of the borough president's office; and to the campaign account of Kimberly Peeler-Allen, Ms. Fields's campaign finance director.

Four days later, Mr. Mercurio sent the flier to that group again, but in the photo two white supporters had been deleted and two Asians put in.

Mr. Mercurio has argued that the change was made at the insistence of Ms. Fields and her deputies, but he declined to release any messages that included those instructions.

He insisted that he had no ax to grind and noted that he has continued to speak highly of Ms. Fields and her campaign.

"I have been correcting the record," he said, "while in fact saying nice things about her."

NY Post
by Frankie Edozien and Carl Campanile

July 14, 2005 -- C. Virginia Fields received before and after versions of a doctored campaign photograph in which two white supporters were replaced with Asians, according to bombshell e-mails made public yesterday by her fired top consultant.

Fields' ex-adviser Joseph Mercurio released the documents to back up his contention that the Democratic mayoral hopeful was aware that the photo had been changed to make her appear more "inclusive" before it was distributed to voters.

In a March 15 e-mail to Fields' AOL address, Mercurio sent a draft version of the campaign flier for her review. It showed a picture - taken at a press conference last year - of Fields surrounded by supporters. A white man and woman are standing to her right.

But in another e-mail four days later, on March 19, Mercurio sent Fields a new version of the handout - showing an Asian man and woman superimposed in place of the white couple.

"Virginia saw the before and after photos," said Mercurio, who was blamed last week for the photo flap and fired by Fields. "I'm showing you an e-mail that says she did."

The veteran consultant said he had no proof that Fields, the Manhattan borough president, read his e-mails - which he had copied to several of her top aides - but insisted she reviewed "hard copies" of all campaign materials in all their draft forms.

The handout, which was pulled after the scam-photo firestorm erupted last week, was Fields' key piece of campaign literature.

Fields flap? Picture this
NY Daily News
by Maggie Haberman
July 14, 2005

Here's the undoctored photo in the Virginia Fields' flyer flap, showing the people at the far left whose heads were later replaced with those of an Asian couple.

The original picture was part of the E-mails made public yesterday by Fields' embattled former strategist in the latest installment of finger-pointing over the fudged photo.

Both of the people erased from the original picture in an apparent effort to show diversity were identified yesterday as Fields backers. One, Trudy Mason, said she's known Fields for 20 years, and that the Manhattan borough president would never have knowingly erased her from the picture.

"I very much doubt that she'd remove me," Mason said.

Fired strategist Joe Mercurio says the original photo and an E-mail trail he released yesterday show he's been scapegoated by Fields, who denies knowing about the image swapping.

Mercurio said his E-mails to Fields and other staffers show he kept the campaign posted - sending them the original picture in a draft of a campaign mailing, then sending them the altered version for approval.

But sources close to Fields say she often does not read her E-mail and never knew the photo was doctored in an apparent effort to show diversity.

"She never saw the photo before it was doctored," the campaign said in a statement. "At no point did Mercurio disclose that the photo in the literature had been doctored."

Sources close to Fields noted that Mercurio, who initially defended the flyer, said after he was canned that it was done in June against his wishes - never saying that the doctored photo was also used in a March flyer.

Mercurio insisted he showed Fields copies of the pieces.

"I'm objecting to the fact that they're saying they didn't know anything about it ... that I dreamt it on my own, did it on my own and made them use it without noticing it," he said.


It's obvious Ms. Fields is lying. Twice she and her campaign saw what was being produced, and twice they signed off on it.

I wonder who signed the actual sign off form most credible mail firms use to protect themselves from BS like this? I bet it is sitting in the office in San Francisco with that bitch Field's signature on it.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)