As Brooklyn City Councilman Vincent Gentile ramps up his campaign for congress, he cites his time representing Staten Island in the State Senate, including his actual district office on the borough's North Shore. But how Gentile ran that office is now becoming an issue on the campaign trail. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.
In 2002 then-State Sen. Vincent Gentile had a district office at a shopping center on Staten Island.
Now, 13 years later, as he ramps up his bid for Congress, this long ago lease could cause him some headaches. That's because critics claim Gentile closed down this office six months before he left the state senate, allegedly abandoning his constituents.
It's a fact that the councilman vehemently denies.
"It was a misconception. I don't know where that’s coming from. Our office was open until the end of my term. Period. The end,” said Gentile.
The record says otherwise. The office closure was the subject of a front page story in the Staten Island Advance. It had transformed into a campaign office for another senator.
There was even an editorial blasting the councilman for leaving early.
None of this jogged his memory on Monday.
"I haven't seen those articles or editorials, but I would have to look at them. The office was not closed. We had a responsibility to the end of the term and we fulfilled it,” said Gentile.
The other senator, Seymour Lachman, confirmed to NY1, he had assumed some of Gentile's constituent services.
It's because Gentile, sources say, was focusing on Brooklyn. He was running for a new Senate seat, one that did not include Staten Island. So Democratic leaders thought the cash was better spent elsewhere.
We reminded the councilman of that. His story didn't change.
"My recollection is yes. The office remained an active, functioning office,” he said.
Later on Monday, a campaign spokesman sent NY1 this statement: "Had it been up to us, we would have never closed the office. I think we all might struggle to remember the minutiae of something that happened nearly 15 years ago, especially something that amounted to little more than the passing of a baton."
Now this is the last time Gentile had an office on Staten Island, ever since then he has been in the City Council, representing Brooklyn.