Joseph A. Mascia vowed Wednesday to continue running for Common Council despite the controversy over his use of racial epithets – and it appears he will receive backing from a major political force in Buffalo.
Carl P. Paladino, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor and member of the Buffalo School Board, said Wednesday that Mascia represents the only “balance against corruption in the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.” He added that tapes of Mascia’s recent “N-word” characterization of several African-American politicians result from a “purposeful attack on him.”
“They’re going after a guy who keeps going out on a limb about corruption,” he said. “He should be respected, and I don’t see anybody buying into this racist stuff.”
Paladino – Mascia’s major financial supporter in past elections and again this year in the Fillmore District campaign – called him an “honest guy.”
“He is sorry,” Paladino continued, claiming Mascia was tricked into using racial slurs in the tape.
“Now all the politically correct people want to get up and say ‘Oh my God’ about this,” Paladino said.
Throughout the controversy over his remarks revealed last week by The Buffalo News, Mascia has resisted calls to exit the Fillmore contest and to resign his elected position on the housing authority. But he made it clear Wednesday that he will continuing his candidacy and will demonstrate a “sincere apology” that “requires actions.”
“I’m going to take that unfortunate incident and make it a public good,” he said. “This is an opportunity to engage in the discussions that we have ignored for too long.
“There have been efforts to silence me, sidetrack me, and shut me up,” he added. “I will not be silenced. I will not be sidetracked. I will not shut up.”
Mascia again emphasized his remorse over making the remarks and again assumed responsibility for them.
“I can’t take them back,” he said.
But he also characterized himself as “the kind of guy who has ideas outside the box,” and said he will leave it up to the voters to decide if he is fit for office and should continue his criticism of the administration of Mayor Byron W. Brown and housing authority management.
Mascia also told the Executive Committee of the Erie County Conservative Party, which previously backed him, on Tuesday that he was apologizing for his remarks and withdrawing from its line on the ballot.
“He has told me it’s a conspiracy and that it will all come out,” said Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo. “Unfortunately, no other person put those words in his mouth.”
Mascia also was the subject of a closed meeting of the housing authority’s ethics committee Tuesday to determine if any further action is warranted in his case.
It is expected the committee will forward its findings to Brown as the “appointing authority” even though Mascia is elected.
Committee officials said Brown can then appoint a hearing officer and organize hearings.
Mascia is expected on Thursday to continue his efforts to disqualify one of his opponents in the September Democratic primary – Samuel Herbert – during proceedings at the Erie County Board of Elections. Most sources familiar with the situation, however, believe Herbert will survive the attempt and make the ballot.
The other candidate is longtime incumbent David A. Franczyk.
State Board of Elections records, meanwhile, show Paladino (or his companies and political action committee) contributed $500 of the $1,699 Mascia has raised so far for this year’s campaign.
In Mascia’s 2012 State Assembly race, Paladino contributed $7,466 to a total of $17,500 in cash and in-kind contributions. In a 2011 campaign for County Legislature, Mascia raised $23,500 with $11,466 from Paladino.
Paladino said Wednesday he realizes he has been criticized for racial views, pointing to controversial emails that figured in his unsuccessful campaign for governor. His recent remarks in Olean about “damn Asians” and other “foreigners” attending the University at Buffalo on discounted tuition also provoked criticism.
“I have never made racial remarks,” Paladino said, adding his recent comments pointed only to observations that out-of-state students – whether foreign born or not – are taking advantage of New York’s heavily subsidized university system at the cost of taxpayers.
“They were legitimate statements and did not have racist intent,” he said.
News Staff Reporters Susan Schulman and Daniela Sirtori-Cortina contributed to this report.