The flyer claimed that Roberts had beaten up minorities and claimed, without any justification, that he would knock down a small supermarket near the projects if he is elected. Given the extreme nature of the accusations, the Roberts camp lashed out this week and accused the Russo forces and, particularly, Russo aide George Ortiz of writing and orchestrating the creation and delivery of the flyer. Russo, Ortiz, and Russo Campaign Manager David Anthony all vehemently swore they had nothing to do with the flyer.
In private, several Russo-allied politicos said they believe it was possible that Roberts and his allies had propagated the flyers themselves in an effort to heighten emotions and generate sympathy.
The flyer insinuates that "multi millionaire David Roberts beat up several Hispanics and blacks before" and that he has "never socialized with any minorities until he decided to run for mayor." It also says that Roberts is a "racist who supports people like [former Mayor] Steve Cappiello during Cappiello's administration," when thousands of Hispanics were "burned out of Hoboken."
The flyer also contained the vitriolic attacks on Roberts's business interests near the Housing Authority. The flyer says, "Did you know Dave Roberts owns Westside Plaza and plans to buy Big Banner Plaza and C-Town, and if he becomes mayor, he will knock them down and build condos there."
Roberts said that he does not plan to buy Big Banner Plaza and C-Town, does not plan to build condos there, and that there is no truth in the other allegations.
Roberts's campaign manager, Michael Lenz, was disgusted by the flyer and called it desperate politics. "This shows no respect for the voters that live in the Housing Authority," said Lenz. "After eight years of broken promises, [the Russo team sends] out a flyer in a last ditch effort to regain some of the support that they once had."
Lenz said that all the accusations are ludicrous and Roberts "has always been a conscientious developer who has built over 20 affordable housing units and has never asked for a variance while building these units."
Lenz added that to associate Roberts with the burning out of Hispanics makes absolutely no sense, since at the time of the alleged events, Roberts was a member of the Hoboken Fire Department and was rewarded with a Class 3 Valor Award for saving two children from a burning building.
"What [the Russo campaign] is doing is running a dual campaign, where on one level David Anthony is taking the high road and writing on Russo's development, while on the other hand there is George Ortiz and others who run an underground campaign of spreading lies. Ultimately we do not feel these tactics are effective."
Roberts allies said that they believe Ortiz was involved because they have heard rumors to that effect.
Ortiz and the entire Russo camp strongly denied any association with the derogatory flyer.
"Politics can still be a dirty business," said Ortiz. "My heart goes out to the Roberts family, but at the same time, I am very suspect and think there is a good possibility that this is a publicity stunt to get a favorable story from the media. They're making themselves seem like they're the good guys, instead of directly talking about the issues. They think they will win if they deal in the politics of personal destruction."
David Anthony said, "All the flyers we've put out are signed. I told Dave [Roberts] before the campaigns start that you can't stop people from doing things like this, but in the end we certainly do not sanction it nor do we authorize it. This is typical campaign season garbage, and I believe the voters will see through it for what it's worth."
Russo said that he is not above criticizing an opponent, but he promised Roberts that he would always claim it. "I will criticize my opponents I will keep my criticism only to the issues themselves," he said, "and any criticism that I do have, I will not shy away from putting my name on it."