Rotterdam city council candidate publishes 9/11 and COVID conspiracy theories


ROTTERDAM – Joseph Mastroianni is a prolific Facebook user, his page populated with links to prominent voices in the far-right media ecosystem, including former presidential adviser and provocative Steve Bannon and expert Dan Bongino.

Mastroianni has also repeatedly shared fraudulent 9/11 conspiracy theories, according to social media posts posted by the Rotterdam resident last year.

He is also a candidate in the four-man race for Rotterdam city council, running for the Republican and Conservative party lines in the general election on November 2.

The messages released by Political Hope, which were authenticated by The Times Union, include a mush of conspiracy theories and bare metal denial done to cast doubt on the worst terrorist attack – and one of the most painful – of the history of the nation.

An image he shared, for example, announcement “September 11 is a lie” followed by a list of perceived rationalizations, including the Fibonacci sequence, black boxes and “rigged media images.”

Another post States, “How much evidence do you need to admit that 9/11 was an inside job?” “

In total, Mastroianni launched at least 20 posts over a three-day period last year between September 10-12, missives that join others espousing and amplifying other adopted views and ideologies. by the far-right landscape, including those who criticize the CDC’s measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus by getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

A former senior local law enforcement official expressed dismay in an open letter to media in the capital region.

Former Schenectady County Sheriff Harry J. Buffardi called Mastroianni’s messages “appalling” and “deeply offensive”.

“This is not about partisan politics,” Buffardi wrote. “It is beyond human decency for a major party candidate for public office to hold such anti-American views. ”

Mastroianni did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.

Schenectady County Republican President Darlene Harris also did not answer a phone call asking for comment.

Buffardi, a registered Democrat, served in the sheriff’s office for 36 years, including a decade as the county’s top lawyer.

The sheriff has first-hand experience of the 9/11 attacks: as a result, the New York State Sheriff’s Association tasked him with setting up and leading the dead canine unit tasked with locating human remains at Ground Zero.

“If Joe Mastroianni shows that type of judgment now, what if he is given responsibility for our city?” Buffardi wrote, adding that he was “unfit” to perform his duties.

Mastroianni’s Facebook feed also regularly criticizes public health experts like Dr Anthony Fauci and reinforces the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election that saw President Joe Biden defeat former President Donald Trump was ‘stolen’ .

Several posts have been reported by independent fact-checkers that Facebook uses to identify and mitigate false or misleading information posted on the platform.

Mastroianni takes on incumbent Councilor Stephen Signore on Democratic and Conservative Party lines; Jesse McGuire on the lines of the Democratic Party and working-class families, and Charles J. Dodson on the lines of the Republican Party and the Independence Party.

After the Times Union article was posted online on Monday, Schenectady County Conservative Party Chairman James Barrett said in a statement that Mastroianni, while on that party line in November, did not had not been approved by the committee.

Barrett said the Conservative Party was unaware of Mastroianni’s messages on 9/11, “but the comments reinforce our decision not to support him,” saying he is “clearly unfit for elected office” and that his “comments denying 9/11 are heinous.”

“On a personal level, these views are disgusting,” Barrett wrote. “I spent time working on Ground Zero and the recovery efforts at the Fresh Kills landfill. The horrors of these days will stay with me forever.

Contacted by The Times Union on Monday, McGuire said: “I was shocked and very disgusted that someone was causing a national political tragedy.” McGuire lost a family member on September 11. “These are not Rotterdam values ​​and I am shocked and appalled by all of this.”

Signore said he was not familiar with the messages until a Times Union reporter alerted him to their existence.

“I guess I’m flabbergasted that in our time this is what our culture has come to,” Signore said.

Dodson did not immediately respond to the comments.

Early voting begins on October 23.

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