Assemblyman: I may sue Dems after backlash for Confederate flag pic
SPARTA — Assemblyman Parker Space says he's considering litigation against his political opponents — saying the employees at his farm have been harassed in the weeks after he posted a picture of himself with a Confederate flag.
The 24th District Republican — whose district includes parts of Morris, Sussex — and Warren counties — posted a picture of himself and his wife Jill at a concert in Bethel, N.Y., standing in front of a Confederate flag with the image of Hank Williams Jr. He captioned it: “Tailgating waiting for Hank. Hope no one is offended! LOL,”
The NJ Herald reported that at the Skylands Tea Party meeting last Wednesday, Space said employees at his family's farm, Space Farms, were being abused on the phone and being accused of racism. He blamed Democratic state Assembly candidates Kate Matteson and Gina Trish for the attacks.
In a statement to the newspaper, Space said his family has hired an "experienced local attorney to do preliminary work on this."
But in his statements to the Herald and in one released to InsiderNJ he didn't detail any specific instances of harassing or actionable behavior by the Democrats. Instead, he more generally told InsiderNJ:
“Their campaign and their county Democrat committee have made themselves party to an effort aimed at destroying the a 90-year-old family business through personal harassment, liable, an aggressive economic boycott, and restraint of trade,” he told InsiderNJ. “The Space family has retained legal counsel moving forward.”
The Herald story notes that days after Space posted the flag photo, the Democrats' campaign manager checked into Space Farms on Facebook and gave it a "poor" rating. It also notes a Facebook page titled "Boycott Space Farms" had been created after the posting, though it wasn't clear who created it.
Matteson and Trish posed a link on their campaign Facebook page to a NJ.com editorial titled "NJ Assemblyman seeks safe space for Confederate flag fetish" with the word "share" in capital letters.
Trish in an email said "Parker Space can try to hide behind false allegations and baseless accusations, but if his business is being hurt it's all due to his own actions. The fact is that people in New Jersey don't like confederate sympathizers. While Space wastes time with idle threats, we remain focused on policy that will help improve the quality of life for our families and neighbors."
The editorial attacked Space's statement defending the picture he posted, in which he'd said criticism comes from people who don't understand his sense of humor. The editorial also references a picture on the website Skylands Patriots News site of Space — who has a groundhog named Stonewall, for Confederate general Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson — with a Confederate flag tattoo on his left arm.
Politico.com's Matt Friedman reported that Space Chief of Staff Lou Crescitelli said via email the tattoo "represents the Dukes of Hazard TV show from the 1980s" — and that he's also got a Wile E. Coyote tattoo, one of a bald eagle gripping the American flag, a pirate and a butterfly and several others. The Confederate flag tattoo includes the words “Good Ol’ Boys,” the title of the Dukes of Hazard theme song, Lou Crescitelli told Friedman.
The farm took heavy damage from a strong thunderstorm last February but opened for a 90th season this year. It's a favorite class trip destination for many North Jersey schools with a zoo, blacksmith shop and farm.
Space has not yet returned messages.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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