Nate McMurray https://www.thebatavian.com/ en https://www.thebatavian.com/themes/barrio_batavian/images/thebatavian_logo.png Nate McMurray https://www.thebatavian.com/ Local Matters © 2008-2023 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Fri, 23 Feb 2024 23:55:48 -0500 https://www.thebatavian.com/themes/barrio_batavian/images/thebatavian_logo.png Wed, 25 Jan 2023 22:43:00 -0500 Magistrate rules insufficient proof provided for ex-wife to sue David Bellavia https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/magistrate-rules-insufficient-proof-provided-for-ex-wife-to-sue-david-bellavia/626648 A U.S. Magistrate on Wednesday upheld a motion by David Bellavia to remove him as a codefendant in a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife alleging a conspiracy to effect a false arrest by officials in Orleans County in January 2021.

In his ruling, Magistrate Jeremiah J. McCarthy states that Nathan McMurray, the attorney for Deanna King, failed to make the case in his complaint filed with the court that King's arrest in the Town of Ridgeway lacked probable cause.

McCarthy said the complaint lacked the facts necessary to substantiate an arrest without probable cause.

The written opinion is a recommendation by McCarthy to the presiding federal judge, John L. Sinatra, who will issue a final ruling. 

King, according to documents filed in Federal Court, was arrested in January 2021 while she and Bellavia were in the midst of a contested divorce.  The case was eventually sealed by a justice in the Town of Ridgeway, and the final disposition of the case has not been publicly disclosed.

Bellavia, a former Batavia resident, was bestowed the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump in 2019.  King is a Batavia resident and a broadcast personality in Rochester.

McMurray unsuccessfully ran for Congress three times, seeking a seat that would have included Genesee County. He is currently an attorney associated with Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, based in New York City. He has represented George Maziarz in a lawsuit against Batavia Downs that was eventually dropped. He is also the attorney of record in a lawsuit against the Town of Irondequoit that was recently dismissed. He's reportedly also threatened the Veterans Administration with a lawsuit related to the Route 77 intersection next to the WNY National Cemetery in Pembroke.

In the initial claim written by McMurray on King's behalf, Bellavia is accused of threatening to have King arrested as part of an ongoing communication during their divorce proceedings.  Bellavia was, according to the suit, upset with King because of social media posts.  It alleges that Bellavia "followed through" on his threat by contacting a friend and political ally who works for the major crimes unit of the District Attorney's Office to effect King's arrest.

King claims that Corey Black called her at her home in January 2021 and informed her there was a warrant for her arrest. 

There is no publicly available information on the warrant and which court might have issued it, though the case was handled by the Town of Ridgeway Court. 

In Divorce Court, King and Bellavia were apparently instructed to communicate only about the children using a parenting app called AppClose.

The initial complaint filed by McMurray states:

On January 8. 2021, he (Bellavia) texts, “You are going to get in trouble.” Ms. King never called him, other than her having her son call him after repeated attempts to obtain health insurance information via the parenting application had failed. Accordingly, Ms. King explained on December 31, 2021, “I haven’t called you or had any non-children contact related with you, nor do I have a desire to call you. I only wanted the health insurance information you wouldn’t give.” 

None of the assertions made in the complaint, McCarthy ruled, rise to the level of proof that King was wrongfully arrested and that her civil rights were therefore violated.

"Although King repeatedly alleges that she was arrested and prosecuted without probable cause, she does so only in (a) conclusory fashion," McCarthy wrote. 

Meaning, the magistrate believes McMurray, or King, is concluding that there was no probable cause but doesn't provide sufficient facts to substantiate the claim.

McMurray, via text message, said he disagrees with the magistrate's opinion.

"The court ordered Ms. King to communicate with Mr. Bellavia on a parenting app about the children, which she did," McMurray stated. "Mr. Bellavia, however, continued to harass and threaten her on the app, which is all documented. There was no probable cause to arrest Ms. King, an issue that the court has not ruled on as of yesterday."

McCarthy heard oral arguments in the case on Tuesday and, in his written ruling, was critical of McMurray's presentation and "failure to identify the factual and legal elements of the specific criminal charge against King because the criminal complaint was sealed."

It's unclear from court documents if McMurray or King sought to have her case unsealed, at least for the purpose of providing those documents to McCarthy.  McCarthy indicates the documents were not available to the court and were apparently not reviewed by McMurray.

"How, then, could he allege in good faith that probable cause was lacking?" McCarthy wrote. "By signing the Complaint and proposed Amended Complaint, he certified that 'to the best of [his] knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances.”

In making the filing, McCarthy states, McMurray also asserted that  “the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”

McMurray, via text message, said he plans to object to the ruling.

"To explain what was actually decided, the judge did not yet resolve whether it was appropriate for an investigator for a district attorney (in a distant county) working in a major felony drug crimes unit — who was not a police officer and just happened to be the friend of the defendant, Mr. Bellavia — arrested a mom because she asked for a health insurance card for her kids. But we will proceed with our efforts to get answers."

Regarding McMurray's assertion of a "distant county," one of the assertions of King's complaint is that authorities in Orleans County did not have jurisdiction in the matter because neither Bellavia nor King lived in Orleans County at the time of the criminal complaint against King.

Bellavia declined to comment on the matter, but a close associate of Bellavia's said that Bellavia has lived in Orleans County consistently since 2015.

Bellavia's attorneys, Donald W. O'Brien, Jr., and William F. Savino, declined to comment for this story.

According to a prior filing by the attorneys, many of the allegations made in King's complaint raise allegations made during the divorce proceeding and should have been kept confidential.  They also sought to seal a memorandum delivered to the court by McMurray that made new allegations that, the attorneys said, were subject to seal as part of the divorce proceedings. Earlier this month, McCarthy declined to redact and seal those portions of King's complaint. The attorneys have the option to reapply for sealing that portion of the suit.

Orleans County, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, the Orleans County District Attorney's Office, Corey Black, and "Deputy John Doe" are all named codefendants in the lawsuit, and the complaint against those defendants has not been dismissed.  None of those codefendants have filed answers with the court, and McCarthy issued an indefinite stay of their requirement to respond pending further proceedings in the case.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/magistrate-rules-insufficient-proof-provided-for-ex-wife-to-sue-david-bellavia/626648#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/magistrate-rules-insufficient-proof-provided-for-ex-wife-to-sue-david-bellavia/626648 Jan 25, 2023, 10:43pm Nate McMurray Magistrate rules insufficient proof provided for ex-wife to sue David Bellavia Howard Owens <p>A U.S. Magistrate on Wednesday upheld a motion by David Bellavia to remove him as a codefendant in a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife alleging a conspiracy to effect a false arrest by officials in Orleans County in January 2021.</p> <p>In his ruling, Magistrate Jeremiah J. McCarthy states that Nathan</p>
David Bellavia seeks to dismiss and seal portion of federal lawsuit filed by ex-wife https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/david-bellavia-seeks-to-dismiss-and-seal-portion-of-federal-lawsuit-filed-by-ex-wife A Rochester-based attorney for David Bellavia has filed motions to dismiss and seal portions of a federal lawsuit filed against him and Orleans County alleging a conspiracy to deny Bellavia's ex-wife her constitutional rights.

Attorney Donald W. O'Brien's court filings assert that the lawsuit is deficient in proving a conspiracy and was filed in part to make disparaging remarks about Bellavia a matter of public record.

The suit was filed on Nov. 4 on behalf of Deanna Bellavia (known professionally as Deanna King) by attorney Nathan McMurray.  Plaintiffs in the suit include David Bellavia, Orleans County, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, the Orleans County District Attorney's Office, Investigator Corey Black, and a Sheriff's Office employee listed as "John Doe." 

The suit alleges that Bellavia and Black conspired to arrest King without probable cause and charge her with harassment for contacting Bellavia during their divorce proceedings in 2021.

Bellavia, a former Batavia resident who is originally from Orleans County and has resided there in recent years, received the Medal of Honor in 2019 for his actions during the Battle of Fallujah during the Iraq War.

King, who lives in Batavia, is a radio and TV broadcaster in Rochester.

McMurray has previously sought to represent Genesee County and the surrounding area in Congress. Earlier this year, McMurray filed a suit on behalf of former state senator George Maziarz against Batavia Downs that was subsequently dropped.

The federal lawsuit alleges government officials, acting under the color of law, conspired with Bellavia to have King arrested in order to discredit her during divorce proceedings.  The arrest, according to the suit, violated her rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure and equal protection under the law.

O'Brien does not dispute that Bellavia filed a complaint against King alleging violations of a court agreement that limited contact between the parties but states that such contacts with law enforcement do not constitute a conspiracy and cites specific case law to support his assertion.

"Assuming these allegations are true, there is nothing sinister in Mr. Bellavia furnishing evidence to the Municipal Defendants upon which they based the harassment charges that resulted in Plaintiff's Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD)," the motion states. "Mr. Bellavia does not deny that he was the complainant in the underlying criminal case (emphasis retained). However, 'it has long been held that a private party does not become a willful participant by merely invoking the assistance of the police.' DeSantis v. Town of Cheektowaga, 2020 "

In his motions, O'Brien states that McMurray, in drafting the complaint filed in Federal Court, failed to identify a specific section of the United States Code on which King's claim of conspiracy was based.

He also asserts that the plaintiff's claims of a conspiracy are "based on conclusory assertions unsupported by any factual details tending to show, or even raise an inference of, an agreement to deprive Plaintiff of her constitutional rights. Rather, the conspiracy claim against Mr. Bellavia consists entirely of vague and general allegations of a conspiracy and relies upon mere connection and speculation."

To prove a conspiracy, O'Brien asserts, the plaintiff must provide details of a time and place when the conspirators reached an agreement to deny the plaintiff of her rights.  The suit, he states, fails to present such evidence. 

O'Brien is asking the court to strike and seal several paragraphs in the lawsuit as "scandalous and prejudicial" and that the claims in those paragraphs, even if there was any merit to the conspiracy claim, have no relevance to the case.

"Paragraphs 11 through 17 and 19 through 28, however, have no bearing on the single claim against Mr. Bellavia in the Complaint," O'Brien states. "Rather, these highly prejudicial allegations appear to have been included to obtain leverage in this action and to compensate for the absence of any factual allegations to support her conspiracy claims. The truth or falsity of these challenged allegations is immaterial to Plaintiff's claim against Mr. Bellavia. If Plaintiff believes that her claim is somehow enhanced by allegations that these two parties endured a contentious divorce, then Paragraph 18 adequately makes that assertion. The remaining seventeen paragraphs, however, are irrelevant and prejudicial and should be stricken."

A footnote in the motion notes that "Mr. Bellavia is not seeking dismissal of the Plaintiff's third claim for malicious prosecution since it is not directed at him. It should be noted, however, that the Plaintiff's agreement to an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal means that she cannot establish that the underlying prosecution was terminated in her favor, as she is required to do."

When King's case was dismissed in accordance with her plea agreement in the Town of Ridgeway, the court record was sealed, and the court clerk in Ridgeway has denied there even is a criminal case on file in that court.

O'Brien also asserts that a number of claims made against Bellavia in the lawsuit violate the divorce decree's confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses. 

The divorce was final on Dec. 28, 2021.

"Plaintiff and her counsel were well aware of the restrictions placed on their ability to engage in such unrestrained and harmful public disclosures," O'Brien states.

The Batavian attempted to contact McMurray today for comment and did not get a response. He did not respond when we sought comment for a prior story on the lawsuit.  It should be noted that McMurray has previously indicated he has blocked communication from The Batavian's publisher (see related item).

None of the other defendants in the case have filed responses yet. The federal docket (Pacer account required) indicates all defendants were served prior to Dec. 9.

The filing of the lawsuit against Bellavia and the other defendants coincided with the release of Bellavia's new book, "Remember the Ramrods: An Army Brotherhood in War and Peace."

On Dec. 28, Federal Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy granted Bellavia's "motion for leave to file under seal," which allows O'Brien to file supporting documents from the divorce proceedings for the court's review while keeping the documents sealed. 

McMurray has until Jan. 13 to file a response to the motion to dismiss. A hearing has been scheduled in Federal Court on Jan. 24.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/david-bellavia-seeks-to-dismiss-and-seal-portion-of-federal-lawsuit-filed-by-ex-wife#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/david-bellavia-seeks-to-dismiss-and-seal-portion-of-federal-lawsuit-filed-by-ex-wife Dec 31, 2022, 6:00pm Nate McMurray David Bellavia seeks to dismiss and seal portion of federal lawsuit filed by ex-wife Howard Owens <p>A Rochester-based attorney for David Bellavia has filed motions to dismiss and seal portions of a federal lawsuit filed against him and Orleans County alleging a conspiracy to deny Bellavia's ex-wife her constitutional rights.</p> <p>Attorney Donald W. O'Brien's court filings assert that the lawsuit is deficient in proving a conspiracy</p>
Jacobs calls McMurray tweet about court packing 'dangerous' and threat to democracy https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/jacobs-calls-mcmurray-tweet-about-court-packing-dangerous-and-threat-to-democracy

Yes. I would pack the Supreme Court to save choice, marriage equality and pre-existing conditions.

Pack the hell out of it.

— Nate McMurray for Congress 2020 (@Nate_McMurray) October 8, 2020

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) criticized his opponent Nate McMurray for supporting the radical left agenda of “packing the Supreme Court,” which refers to dramatically expanding the number of Supreme Court Justices on the bench and appointing far-left justices in all the new seats.

“Pack the hell out of it.” wrote McMurray in a recent tweet.

“This is very dangerous to the future of our democracy,” Jacobs said. “This radical left ‘packing’ effort would undermine the separation of powers and the independence of our judiciary.

“AOC, Ilhan Omar, and now Nate McMurray, will do whatever they can to force their radical agenda on the American people, even if it means destroying our core and fundamental democratic institutions. We must all denounce this radical and destructive agenda."

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https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/jacobs-calls-mcmurray-tweet-about-court-packing-dangerous-and-threat-to-democracy#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/jacobs-calls-mcmurray-tweet-about-court-packing-dangerous-and-threat-to-democracy Oct 9, 2020, 10:44am Nate McMurray Jacobs calls McMurray tweet about court packing 'dangerous' and threat to democracy Howard Owens <blockquote> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Yes. I would pack the Supreme Court to save choice, marriage equality and pre-existing conditions.<br> <br> Pack the hell out of it.</p> — Nate McMurray for Congress 2020 (@Nate_McMurray) <a href="https://twitter.com/Nate_McMurray/status/1314025503599271938?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 8, 2020</a></blockquote> <p><em>Press release:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) criticized his opponent Nate McMurray for supporting the radical left agenda of “packing</p></blockquote>
Contrary to McMurray video, Jacobs not at 'lynching' of Cuomo https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/contrary-to-mcmurray-video-jacobs-not-at-lynching-of-cuomo/560039 In a social media post, Nate McMurray, candidate for the NY-27 seat in the Nov. 3 General Election, accused his opponent Chris Jacobs of participating in a rally in Hamburg where Gov. Andrew Cuomo was, in McMurray's words, subjected to a "mock trial and lynching."

Except that even the heavily edited video McMurray posted shows the puppet hanging marionette-like from a crossbar, much like a puppeteer would operate. 

Jacobs denied being at the rally at the time the life-sized puppet was brought onto the stage.

A spokesman for Jacobs issued the following statement:

“Rep. Jacobs spoke at the beginning of the event and left immediately after his remarks to attend another event in Monroe County. The puppet was not on display during his remarks.”

A person who was at the rally with Jacobs said Jacobs was at the event only long enough to speak, about five minutes, and left at least an hour before the puppet was brought out.

This afternoon, McMurray issued a press release accusing Jacobs of "hitting a new low."

“This district has a history of political climbers like Bill Paxon, Tom Reynolds, Chris Lee, and Chris Collins who used the communities and families of NY-27 for personal gain,” McMurray said. “But the hatefulness on display Saturday is a disgraceful new low. Chris Jacobs and his comrades have fully embraced the worst of Trumpism in Western New York.”

The rally was sponsored by the 1791 Society, a pro-Second Amendment group, and billed as an Anti-Cuomo event. 

According to the Buffalo News, the marionette was brought to the rally by Melbourne Sann, of Rome, N.Y., who conducted a mock trial of Cuomo.

Sann, wearing a Revolutionary War uniform, asked for verdicts from the crowd on Cuomo's policies, ranging from abortion rights to bail reform. As the crowd yelled "guilty," a spectator struck the suspended figure in the lower back with a folded metal chair.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/contrary-to-mcmurray-video-jacobs-not-at-lynching-of-cuomo/560039#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/contrary-to-mcmurray-video-jacobs-not-at-lynching-of-cuomo/560039 Sep 28, 2020, 5:35pm Nate McMurray Contrary to McMurray video, Jacobs not at 'lynching' of Cuomo Howard Owens <p>In a social media post, Nate McMurray, candidate for the NY-27 seat in the Nov. 3 General Election, accused his opponent Chris Jacobs of participating in a rally in Hamburg where Gov. Andrew Cuomo was, in McMurray's words, subjected to a "mock trial and lynching."</p> <p>Except that even <a href="https://twitter.com/Nate_McMurray/status/1310354785506390017">the heavily</a></p>
McMurray attacks Jacobs for supporting conservative justice nominee https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-attacks-jacobs-for-supporting-conservative-justice-nominee/559981 Press release:

In response to President Trump’s announcement that he has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, Nate McMurray, the Democratic candidate in New York’s 27th Congressional District, released the following statement: 

“A mere week after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, the Trump administration speeds forward with its plan to install another extremist ideologue on the Supreme Court by Election Day in November, flouting the Constitution yet again in the process. 

“All this so the Republican party can cruelly do away with protections for preexisting conditions and go after women's health and protections for minority communities. Over 204,000 Americans are dead, seven million more infected and at risk of long-term effects of COVID-19.

"Over 40 million Americans are out of work and 12 million lost their health insurance since March. It is unconscionable that President Trump would choose a nominee who will deliver the death blow to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and rip health care away from millions of people during a deadly pandemic.

After Justice Ginsburg’s passing, I said that Trump’s choice for the nomination would unravel Justice Ginsburg’s legacy of protecting choice and equality. Sadly, I was correct. And the hyper-political nature of this moment puts on full display his utter contempt for the American judicial system and the confirmation process. 

“There is no doubt that Trump will, if allowed to stack the highest court in the United States, ask them to overturn the ACA, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions. If Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19, on top of conditions like cancer, diabetes, and pregnancy, will become preexisting conditions that allow families to be denied healthcare coverage.

“My opponent, who has only known a life of wealth and privilege, including lifelong access to excellent healthcare, has already signaled his support of Trump’s nominee. Chris Jacobs has no idea what it is like to be unemployed or struggling, without health insurance, in a health crisis. I do. The voters do. God help us."

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-attacks-jacobs-for-supporting-conservative-justice-nominee/559981#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-attacks-jacobs-for-supporting-conservative-justice-nominee/559981 Sep 27, 2020, 3:00pm Nate McMurray McMurray attacks Jacobs for supporting conservative justice nominee Press Release <p><em>Press release:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>In response to President Trump’s announcement that he has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, Nate McMurray, the Democratic candidate in New York’s 27th Congressional District, released the following statement:&nbsp;</p> <p>“A mere week after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, the Trump administration speeds</p></blockquote>
Video: Interview with Rep. Chris Jacobs https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/video-interview-with-rep-chris-jacobs/559771
Video Sponsor
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We spoke with Rep. Chris Jacobs outside the new GOP headquarters at 214 Ellicott St., Batavia, on Saturday.

We asked him about his election opponent Nate McMurray trying to intimidate local reporters and Jacobs condemned such actions, so we asked if he would speak as forcefully against President Donald Trump praising violence against reporters and trying to intimidate reporters and Jacobs would only say that he would never engage in such behavior.  

We also fact checked a previous McMurray press release with Jacobs. In late July, McMurray attacked Jacobs for voting against renaming military bases that are named after former Confederate leaders. Jacobs said McMurray mischaracterized the bill and the vote.

Finally, we asked Jacobs if he supports withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He does.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/video-interview-with-rep-chris-jacobs/559771#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/video-interview-with-rep-chris-jacobs/559771 Sep 23, 2020, 6:11pm Nate McMurray Video: Interview with Rep. Chris Jacobs Howard Owens <div> <div><span>Video Sponsor</span></div> <div> .pane-node-body img {background: none !important; border: 0 !important; margin: 0 !important; padding: unset !important; padding-left: 1px !important } broadstreet.zone(69076)</div> <div></div> </div> <p>We spoke with Rep. Chris Jacobs outside the new GOP headquarters at 214 Ellicott St., Batavia, on Saturday.</p> <p>We asked him about his election opponent Nate McMurray trying to</p>
McMurray releases statement on passing of Ginsburg https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-releases-statement-on-passing-of-ginsburg/559568 Press release:

Following the news of United States Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s passing Nate McMurray, Democratic candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, released the following statement:

“My family and I join with Western New Yorkers and all Americans mourning the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a woman who personified ‘fight’ every day of her groundbreaking and accomplished life. Justice Ginsburg fought for all that she achieved: her education, her children and family, and her distinguished career as a teacher, lawyer, judge, and Supreme Court Justice. At each step, she championed the cause of equality between the sexes and justice at every level of society. 

“Justice Ginsburg encouraged Americans of all ages to ‘fight for the things you care about.’ With reverence and renewed spirit, we will continue to do just that.”

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-releases-statement-on-passing-of-ginsburg/559568#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-releases-statement-on-passing-of-ginsburg/559568 Sep 19, 2020, 3:34pm Nate McMurray McMurray releases statement on passing of Ginsburg Press Release <p><em>Press release:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>Following the news of United States Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s passing Nate McMurray, Democratic candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, released the following statement:</p> <p>“My family and I join with Western New Yorkers and all Americans mourning the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a</p></blockquote>
McMurray issues statement on Caputo taking leave from HHS https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/mcmurray-issues-statement-on-caputo-taking-leave-from-hhs/559463 Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 27th District praised the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement that Western New York native, conspiracy theorist, fear monger, and embattled HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo would step aside from his role at HHS on a 60-day leave that extends through the Nov. 3rd election. The Department also advised that Caputo’s aide, Paul Alexander, will leave his post at HHS permanently. 

“I said it in April 2020 and I’ll say it again now: the President was beyond reckless to install Michael Caputo — who, by his own admission, has absolutely no scientific training or expertise — as ‘spokesman’ for HHS in the middle of a public health crisis in the first place,” McMurray said. “I wish Caputo well in recovering his faculties over the coming weeks, but this turn of events comes as no surprise. 

“Caputo has been a ‘yes’ man for Donald Trump since 2014 when he spearheaded a smear campaign to muscle out other bidders in Trump’s failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills. This spilled over into his shadowy work on Trump’s 2016 campaign and subsequent House of Representatives investigation during which Caputo was brought before the House Intelligence Committee. His latest smear campaign, accusing the learned scientists of the Centers for Disease Control of ‘sedition’ and ‘resistance’ when they have only been hard at work these last many months against the coronavirus, was the last straw.

“It’s clear that Michael Caputo’s loyalty doesn’t lie with the American people, but solely with Trump. His hiatus from HHS is welcome at this critical time in our public health crisis, but at the same time is too little too late. I call on Caputo to step down permanently and leave the scientific experts at the CDC and HHS to do their jobs for the American people.

“Meanwhile where is my opponent? When Western New Yorkers and every day Americans need Chris Jacobs, whether to vote correctly or to stand up for them and denounce Caputo’s and Trump’s organized assault on science, the CDC, and public health and safety, Jacobs’ head is firmly planted in the sand as he protects his own political interest over the public’s health and safety. The lack of leadership is staggering and the silence deafening.”

Here is Michael Caputo's statement, which Caputo sent to The Batavian yesterday, about his leave of absence:

After consultation with President Trump and Secretary Azar, I have decided to take a temporary medical leave of absence to pursue necessary screenings for a lymphatic issue discovered last week.

My experience mirrors that of many Americans. When I first noticed I was losing weight, I thought it was because of a new exercise and diet regimen. But over time, I realized there may be other factors causing my weight loss for months.

Instead of taking the time to see my doctor, I failed to do so. This was a mistake, and contributed to my stress level, along with the increasing number of violent threats leveled at me and my family back in Buffalo. But every American battling COVID — in every city in every state across the nation — has been under enormous pressure. I am just one of them.

I’ve learned so much in friendship with the doctors of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force. Sometimes we disagree, but we work in unity to defeat the virus and we care for one another. I want to thank Dr. Tony Fauci for conferring with my personal physician as we get the healthcare I long needed, and yet neglected, through the pandemic.

Our family is blessed. We urge all Americans to see their family doctor for the health care they need but have missed for months during this crisis. Do it today.

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https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/mcmurray-issues-statement-on-caputo-taking-leave-from-hhs/559463#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/mcmurray-issues-statement-on-caputo-taking-leave-from-hhs/559463 Sep 17, 2020, 5:08pm Nate McMurray McMurray issues statement on Caputo taking leave from HHS Howard Owens <p><em>Press release:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>Nate McMurray, Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 27th District praised the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement that Western New York native, conspiracy theorist, fear monger, and embattled HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo would step aside from his role at HHS</p></blockquote>
EDITORIAL: The Batavian will not be bullied by politicians https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/editorial-the-batavian-will-not-be-bullied-by-politicians/559292
img_2624itsathreat.jpg

Nate McMurray, candidate for the NY-27 congressional seat in this November's election, threatened me this past weekend.

The threat wasn't the first one McMurray has leveled at me.

The first threat was on a phone call on Feb. 16. That was the day we published this story: McMurray tweeted about his employer but mostly after he was put on unpaid leave.

Feb. 16 was also the first day in my professional journalism career, which goes back to 1986, that a candidate for public office, at any level, yelled at me over the telephone. To be honest, I shouted just as loud in my rejoinder. It was heated. I'm sure profanity was involved. It was a bizarre and disturbing conversation to have with a man who claims he's the best person to represent us in the House of Representatives. 

I don't have a recording of this conversation. Perhaps McMurray will release the recording he suggested he made. He has intimated -- part of his course of threats against me -- that he records all of his conversations.

I'm not sure what to say about a man who records all of his conversations without informing the other party. It's legal in New York. That doesn't make it ethical.

This conflict arose from a story we published Feb. 15: Nate McMurray's employer, owned by the family of his NY-27 opponent, placed him on leave without pay.

The story prompted Michael Caputo -- an Erie County resident, longtime Republican political strategist, and one of the early media supporters of The Batavian (he had me on his former television show once) -- to post a tweet suggesting I wasn't a real journalist for not including the assertion that McMurray was potentially placed on leave because of use of twitter to criticize Delaware North.

I immediately called Caputo and complained about the tweet but also admitted he was right: I should look at the timing of McMurray's tweets criticizing Delaware North. Caputo apologized for his rash tweet, and I believe he deleted it. (I can't confirm this because Caputo deleted all of his tweets after he joined the Trump Administration as assistant secretary of public affairs for Health and Human Services.)

I informed McMurray I intended to do a follow-up story. McMurray questioned my judgment. I told him -- as I remember it, but McMurray has the recording, not me -- that Caputo's criticism was valid. As a matter of journalistic ethics, I should look at those tweets. I also made the statement, as quoted back to me in a later text message by McMurray, "I do not want to deal with Caputo's army. I don't want these people on my back." I trust the accuracy of McMurray's quote since he apparently has a recording that I don't have.

As a Democrat, I'm sure McMurray is familiar with the concept of "cancel culture" -- the practice of bands of political extremists piling on people on Twitter to demean and threaten them, even threaten their livelihoods and personal safety, to enforce some perceived politically correct orthodoxy. It's not just a leftist thing. Trump supporters do it, too.

While I'm on friendly terms with Caputo, I also know the most single-minded of Trump supporters follow him on Twitter. Caputo is nothing if not expert at stoking the passion of Trump's base (as I think this New York Times article out yesterday illustrates (since this coverage, it appears Caputo has deleted his Twitter account)).

Any sane person would want to avoid getting "canceled" by the paranoid and angry mobs of either the left or the right. 

But that isn't the reason I wrote the story I did. Caputo had a legitimate point about the ethics of not including that information. It was something that I didn't even think about while working on the first story. It was an oversight that needed to be corrected.

My concern about Caputo was real, but that wasn't the reason I pursued a follow-up story. If I thought Caputo wrong about our failure to look a little deeper, I wouldn't have cared what he tweeted, but I saw no reason to volunteer for abuse in a situation where I had no real defense against his accusation.

There is a reason I never married the girl I dated in college. McMurray's twisting my statement into some a charge of capitulation to Caputo reminds me of her. She was an expert at turning an innocuous statement into an argument. It's what manipulators do.

The ironic thing is, the follow-up article, I contend, was quite favorable to McMurray. It showed Delaware North didn't suspend him because of his tweets. The tweets mocking the Jacobs family and Delaware North all came after McMurray's leave of absence began.

So while Caputo was right on the journalistic ethics of not looking at that aspect of events, he was wrong on the facts of the case.

Still, McMurray was angry. In our Feb. 16 call, he threatened to expose me as a toady to Michael Caputo. I loudly suggested to him that would be a bad idea, and he backed down.

Over the course of his threats, McMurray has questioned my journalistic credibility, calling me an activist. The insinuation is that I'm in the pocket of either Caputo or Jacobs, or both, or that I have a secret anti-McMurray, pro-GOP agenda.

The funny thing is the frequent commenters on Facebook who, every time we publish one of McMurray's press releases, try to engage in their own form of cancel-culture attacks on me and The Batavian, all think I'm on McMurray's payroll.

McMurray conveniently ignores the fact that early in the 2018 campaign, The Batavian was the first publication in the district to take his candidacy seriously. We did the first substantial interview with him.

Covering McMurray has never been about McMurray's politics. He's a candidate for federal office. He deserves to have his voice heard. It would be unethical to deny him a platform to be heard. It's why we publish all of his relevant press releases no matter how inane I might find them personally. We've done nothing in publication but treat him fairly.

Even after these attacks from McMurray started, we showed up at one of his campaign events and published a video that most would think reasonably and accurately captured the event with no anti-McMurray spin.

I suspect McMurray's anger about the Feb. 16 article had more to do with the fact that I quoted Caputo at length in the story than the fact that I did a follow-up.

I already knew McMurray hated Caputo. He had made his animosity clear months earlier in a private dinner meeting at Eli Fish Brewing Co. I also knew Caputo hated McMurray. More than once, he's said to me, "McMurray is a punk."

The next conflict came up around June 16, when we published five video interviews with the candidates in the NY-27 special election. McMurray proudly tweeted out a link to his interview with The Batavian but falsely claimed that Jacobs refused to submit to an interview. I retweeted his tweet and pointed out this error, linking to the interview with Jacobs.

Within minutes, McMurray started sending text messages. Among his claims, that I had told him that Jacobs had refused to sit for an interview. I never told McMurray any such thing. I can guarantee you, McMurray has no recording to support that assertion. He also said, accurately, that I would inform him once I had secured an interview with Jacobs. I neglected to follow through on this promise, which I had forgotten about until he reminded me.  

Be that as it may, I would expect a candidate for federal office to be informed enough about the media coverage of his own race to know when an interview is posted with his chief rival before making a claim that is falsifiable. How he could have missed an interview with Chris Jacobs on the home page of the best-read news source in Genesee County is something I can't explain.

Our ensuring testy text exchange included McMurray stating, "Time to start calling you out, Bro," followed by "I got tape."

To me, this was another threat. It was another attempt at extortion, another attempt to bully me into not bucking McMurray's campaign narrative. 

Later in July, there was the debate about whether Genesee County is a "news desert," the latest trendy phrase among media pundits about rural counties without sufficient local news coverage.

Margaret Sullivan is the former editor of the Buffalo News. Currently, she is a media columnist for the Washington Post. Earlier this year, she published a book, Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy.

According to excerpts of the book (such as this one from The Atlantic), Sullivan quotes McMurray about local coverage of his 2018 campaign against then-incumbent Chris Collins. As you may recall, Collins was under federal indictment -- charges he would eventually admit to -- for insider trading and lying to the FBI.

But in the more far-flung parts of the sprawling congressional district, voters were far less informed. The largely rural and suburban district includes Orleans County, which, according to Abernathy’s criteria, is a news desert—one of just a few in New York State.

“I’d be going door to door, or meeting with people at a diner or a fair, for example, and in the most isolated areas, a lot of people had no idea that their own congressman had been indicted,” McMurray told me. Orleans County, west of Rochester, he said, was “one of the toughest places.” Some people didn’t even know who Collins was, and many were incredulous when McMurray told them of the federal charges.

“People told me I was making it up,” said McMurray. That shouldn’t have been the case, given that television news stations in both Rochester and Buffalo were giving plenty of airtime to the scandal as it developed, and those stations were available throughout the district. Nevertheless, the constituents lacked access to the in-depth coverage that a newspaper would have provided. At one time, almost everyone in the district had ready access to print editions of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle or The Buffalo News, or were within easy reach of smaller newspapers in nearby Niagara Falls or Lockport.

This inaccurate take on the 2018 election was not only insulting to Tom Rivers, editor of Orleans Hub, but to me, as the publisher of The Batavian. I complained to The Atlantic, The Washington Post, which also Margaret Sullivan, first on Twitter, and then when she didn't respond, via email.

I believe these assertions are demonstrably, factually wrong. I believe corrections are in order -- and are still in order -- for the book, and these other august publications.

The Batavian reaches at least 70 percent of our market -- Genesee County -- every week. Our readership is 10,000 to 12,000 area residents per day. On a market-size-adjusted basis, the Buffalo News would love to reach as many people as The Batavian. In the past 10 years, we've published more than 900 items about the 27th district. While Jerry Zremski, of the Buffalo News, did Pulitizer-Prize-worthy work in uncovering the corruption of Chris Collins, an investigative enterprise, a publication like The Batavian could never hope to duplicate. I do believe our coverage after his indictment was as robust and thorough as any news publication in Western New York. And I know Tom Rivers covered the case thoroughly as well.

There is simply no way that one single voter in either Genesee or Orleans counties went to the polls in November 2018 without knowing Rep. Chris Collins stood accused of federal crimes.

I heard locally many times in 2018 that people would prefer to vote for a Republican accused of insider trading and lying to the FBI than vote for a Democrat, no matter how much that Democrat might admire Ronald Reagan.

I tried to make this clear to Sullivan. Still, her response was, "Nate McMurray was emphatic, in our interview, that he encountered a surprising number of people in some parts of the district (we specifically discussed Orleans) who weren't aware of Chris Collins' indictment. He tied this to news coverage."

In other words, if there were going to be any retraction of these bogus claims of misinformed voters, it would have to come from McMurray.

So I sent a text message to McMurray about his quote, and the conversation soon devolved into an argument about my journalism bona fides and how I had, in his view, capitulated to Caputo. He mentioned the "tape" again.

"You actually said that bro," after I accused him of lying about the substance (not the statement itself, as quoted above, but the meaning) of my comment, "and maybe I record all my calls."

It's evident to me that Nate McMurray, much like Donald Trump, will browbeat and bully reporters who won't genuflect at his feet. If the coverage isn't fawning, it's fake news. If the journalists report the truth, they're an enemy of the people. This is the mindset of the narcissist and the authoritarian. 

We saw it on public display when McMurray blasted the Buffalo News for reporting on his unhinged tweets attacking Democratic leadership.

I can’t believe @TheBuffaloNews is writing about gossip/tweets in the middle of a pandemic.

Never mind that we have another do doing nothing Congressman, defended by corporate forces and making excuses for the worst president in history. BUT HIS TWEETS! @TMZ @JerryZremski TMZ

— Nate McMurray for Congress 2020 (@Nate_McMurray) August 16, 2020

Apparently, in McMurray's world, when the press cover's Trump deranged tweets, it's news. When the press covers McMurray's off-the-wall tweets, it's "gossip."

What set off McMurray this weekend was my response to one of his tweets about a campaign appearance in Batavia without appropriate notification to the local news outlets. 

So I tweeted, "Another politician avoiding the media."

It didn't take but seconds for McMurray, who seems to be obsessed with Twitter, to send me a text message, setting off another argument leading to another threat (screenshot at the top of this editorial). He claimed in the course of the argument that the event wasn't public, but the pictures show it took place at DeWitt Recreation Area. And he posted pictures about it on a public forum. To claim it was a private event is disingenuous. He used a public space and publicized it after the fact in an open forum.

In my jurisdiction, when a candidate for state or federal office makes a public appearance locally, the local media should be notified; otherwise, the candidate is merely dodging public scrutiny. That shouldn't happen in a democracy. In the age of Trump, it's all that much more important to cling to these democratic norms.

And for those who think I might just be picking on McMurray, earlier this month, we received a press release from Rep. Chris Jacobs about his tour of GCASA. While GCASA is essentially private property, the fact that Jacobs thought it public enough to issue a press release about it makes it clear, it was a public event.

The press should be informed of his visit. The fact no invites went out to local reporters is, to me, a clear indication Jacobs wishes to avoid any tough questions about his time, thus far, in office. I can assure you, Jacobs' staff heard a detailed complaint from The Batavian about this failure to inform the local media about his visit to a location in Genesee County.

The fact is, Nate McMurray and Donald Trump are more alike than McMurray will ever acknowledge. Both claim to be men of the people (I'm reminded of the song by The Blasters, Common Man) but are elitist -- Trump by his money (no matter how overstated his actual wealth) and McMurray by his big-corporation attorney pedigree. Both love the media limelight. Both use Twitter to cultivate devotees. Both are narcissists with authoritarian tendencies. Both blame others for their failings and never acknowledge their mistakes. Both attack reporters who dare to tell the truth about them or challenge them in any way.

If you're among those who support either of these men, fine. It's a free country. We don't cover Donald Trump, but we do cover the NY-27, as well as several other local political jurisdiction, and we want to make it clear, The Batavian won't be bullied by any politician. 

We've never been afraid of politicians. We weren't scared when Jane Corwin refused to answer questions about the conduct of her campaign. We weren't fearful of Kathy Hochul when her campaign misquoted our interview with Chris Collins. We didn't cower when Chris Collins ran away from our interview attempts.

If Nate McMurray thinks he can bully us in order to keep us covering him without fear or favor, this editorial should emphatically answer that question. He can't.

img_2626recenttweet.jpg

The tweet that prompted Nate McMurray's most recent threat against The Batavian.

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McMurray misrepresenting the reason for our follow-up story about his being put on leave by Delaware North.

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The messages from McMurray after my tweet about him saying Jacobs refused an interview. Note, "Time to start calling you out bro" and "I got tape."

UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: Here is McMurray's text message in response to this piece. He's also blocked me on Twitter.

img_efd1d873b9a9-1mcmurrayresponse.jpg

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https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/editorial-the-batavian-will-not-be-bullied-by-politicians/559292#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/editorial-the-batavian-will-not-be-bullied-by-politicians/559292 Sep 15, 2020, 4:22pm Nate McMurray EDITORIAL: The Batavian will not be bullied by politicians Howard Owens <p><div> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img loading="lazy" src="https://www.thebatavian.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/users/60/2020-08/img_2624itsathreat.jpg?itok=ThNWvktz" width="460" height="313" alt="img_2624itsathreat.jpg" class="image-style-large"> </div> </div> </p> <p>Nate McMurray, candidate for the NY-27 congressional seat in this November's election, threatened me this past weekend.</p> <p>The threat wasn't the first one McMurray has leveled at me.</p> <p>The first threat was on a phone call on Feb. 16. That was the day we published this story: <a href="https://www.thebatavian.com/howard-b-owens/mcmurray-tweeted-about-his-employer-but-mostly-after-he-was-put-on-unpaid-leave">McMurray tweeted about</a></p>
McMurray says Jacobs disgraced NY-27 by attending Trump speech https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-says-jacobs-disgraced-ny-27-by-attending-trump-speech/558321 Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democratic congressional candidate in NY-27, released the following statement after his opponent attended Donald Trump’s acceptance speech for the Republican 2020 Presidential nomination:

“After his ‘no’ vote against NY-27’s postal workers last weekend, and after more than 180,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, Chris Jacobs recklessly joined a crowd of more than 1,500 unmasked people, seated for hours cheek to jowl in a potentially unlawful gathering to lavish praise on Donald Trump.

"Will he self-quarantine for two weeks? He won’t, but he absolutely should. Not even Mitch McConnell was so cavalier about his own health, opting instead to stay thousands of miles away in Kentucky rather than risk attending what was little more than a garish coronation.

“We know without a doubt that Trump lies to the American people, and that he will continue to re-write history in order to fit his false narrative for November. Over 3,600 Americans died over the four days of the RNC from the coronavirus. Nearly 30 million Americans are on unemployment after Trump failed to create a national strategy for combating COVID-19.

"Trump and Jacobs continue to support defunding Social Security, and their attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act and coverage for pre-existing conditions continue as well. These are indisputable facts.

“Donald Trump and Chris Jacobs desperately want you to be afraid of Joe Biden, but it is a sad attempt to distract you from the horrors of Donald Trump’s America today — where moral leadership is vacant, the President is above the law, dissent is punished by pepper spray or worse, and the reality that Americans are living each day is re-written to fit Trump's authoritarian narrative of ‘greatness.’

“We can do better, and we must. That begins with rejecting Jacobs and Trump on November 3rd. Then we do the hard work of implementing universal healthcare, achieving racial and social justice, rebuilding our infrastructure, strengthening Social Security and Medicare, combating climate change, and so much more.

“This November, don’t pull a Jacobs. Don’t let your vote be a mistake.”

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https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-says-jacobs-disgraced-ny-27-by-attending-trump-speech/558321#comments https://www.thebatavian.com/press-release/mcmurray-says-jacobs-disgraced-ny-27-by-attending-trump-speech/558321 Aug 29, 2020, 5:33pm Nate McMurray McMurray says Jacobs disgraced NY-27 by attending Trump speech Press Release <p><em>Press release:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>Nate McMurray, Democratic congressional candidate in NY-27, released the following statement after his opponent attended Donald Trump’s acceptance speech for the Republican 2020 Presidential nomination:</p> <p>“After his ‘no’ vote against NY-27’s postal workers last weekend, and after more than 180,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, Chris Jacobs</p></blockquote>