BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - New York Post reporter Fred Dicker published an article on-line Monday saying that Carl Paladino's claimed military service record is false.
Paladino and Dicker made headlines in September when the two got into a heated verbal exchange in Lake George. The incident escalated when Dicker challenged Paladino about evidence of his opponent's infidelity while Paladino accused Dicker of sending a photographer to the home of Paladino's 10-year-old daughter.
Monday's article asserts that Paladino's claim that he commanded 250 men at Fort Bliss, Texas during six months of active duty for the U.S. Army in 1971 is false.
The NY Post article points to records that show Paladino was on active duty at the Texas base for only three months and quotes a former Fort Bliss officer who says the claim that Paladino commanded anyone at Fort Bliss is "a fraud."
Paladino had referenced his military background after coming under fire for his plan to house out of work citizens in dormitory-like facilities where they would learn professional skills and personal hygiene. Paladino said that his experience training soldiers taught him the importance of hygiene and physical fitness.
The Cuomo camp wasted no time sending out a statement based on the article's findings, saying Paladino is "ignorant" and "unqualified to lead" New York State.
“Given their hostility to facts, Mr. Paladino and his puppeteer Caputo appear to be engaged in a race to see whose nose can grow longer. More importantly, they are revealing troubling insights into Mr. Paladino’s character that further disqualify his candidacy," said Cuomo Campaign Spokesperson Josh Vlasto.
Paladino's campaign responded, calling Dicker's article an "amateur hit job" and clarified that the Republican gubernatorial candidate did in fact train about 250 troops a year while in the U.S. Army Reserves, and not while on active duty as previously stated.
"If Andrew Cuomo had taken a few years out of his political career to serve in the military, he would know Fred Dicker's article today is just another amateur hit job. Of course he put out the contract with Dicker to get it done, and in doing so maligned all veterans in New York," said Paladino Campaign Manager Michael Caputo.
Retired CIA officer and Air Force veteran Gary Bernsten, a former candidate for U.S. Senate, also slammed Cuomo for "maligning Carl Paladino's service to our nation in the United States Army."
"Carl Paladino served honorably as an officer on active duty in the US
Army and the US Army reserves," Berntsen said. "There is no disputing
that he commanded his unit on active duty and trained hundreds of
troops as a Captain in the Army Reserves."
With the election about a week away and polls indicating the race is tightening, the two campaigns have increased the mud-slinging. Cuomo is in Western New York Monday making campaign stops in Erie, Niagara and Genesee Counties, while Paladino is campaigning downstate.
Read the full statements from the candidates under related content.