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NYT Bizarrely Suggests Politics May Have Played a Role in Zeldin Attacker's Release

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Conservatives are hammering New York’s bail reform law after the state’s Republican gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin was attacked during a campaign event.

Within hours of the attack last week, the suspect was charged with attempted assault in the second degree and released without bail.

That decision gave Zeldin and conservatives ammunition to attack New York’s bail reform law which ended cash bail in most cases of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

However, it didn’t take long for critics of Zeldin to put on their tin foil hats and suggest that politics might have played a role in charging the suspect who just tried to stab the Republican in the neck in a manner that would mean he would be released without bail.

An article published by The New York Times on Tuesday asked, “How Did a Man Accused of Attacking Lee Zeldin Go Free Without Bail?”

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“Almost immediately, the involvement of Mr. Zeldin’s political allies prompted questions about the incident. Many Democrats seized on the relationship between the candidate and the Monroe County district attorney, Sandra Doorley, who as recently as this week was listed on Mr. Zeldin’s website as a campaign co-chair. They noted that the sheriff who filed the charge against Mr. Jakubonis, Todd K. Baxter of Monroe County, was also a vocal opponent of the bail law,” the article stated.

It added, “And finally, they wondered why Mr. Jakubonis had been charged with second-degree attempted assault, a charge that is not bail-eligible, virtually guaranteeing that he would be released as Mr. Zeldin had predicted.”

Meanwhile, Charles D. Lavine, a Democrat who serves as the chair of the Assembly’s judiciary committee, told the Times, “I have no idea why a prosecutor would not charge the more serious offense.”

Do you think politics played a role?

“Here’s a situation where someone attacks an elected official with a weapon. Could it have been — as some people are suggesting — that the charge was drafted in such a way as to allow Zeldin to complain about the bail laws in the state of New York? That I don’t know,” he added.

Still, the paper did note that there was “no evidence” that has emerged that politics did play a role in the decision to charge the suspect with attempted assault.

Zeldin’s campaign also said in a statement that the district attorney was not “involved with the prosecution of this case due to her friendship” with the Congressman.

The paper noted that “defense attorneys and former prosecutors who practice in Monroe County said that the attempted assault charge was fitting given the specifics of Mr. Jakubonis’s attack on Mr. Zeldin,” and there was “nothing overtly suspicious about the circumstances in which it was filed.”

However, in the second to last paragraph, the article cited one defense attorney, Donald M. Thompson, who said, “As a political consideration, could that have happened? I think we can’t rule it out. Is there any evidence of that? Not that I’m aware of. But certainly people who are so inclined in that direction could make that argument. Because we don’t get to pull back the curtain, you can’t say, that’s why it happened or it isn’t why it happened.”

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The final paragraph noted that the suspect had been federally charged with assaulting a member of Congress using a dangerous weapon and is in federal custody.

It does seem odd that someone can try to stab a gubernatorial nominee and be free while he awaits his trial. And it’s even more bizarre that he would be free without having to pay a hefty sum to post bail. But that is the result of the bail law.

There are plenty of examples of criminals being released without bail and going on to commit other crimes. Just this week, a video of teens in New York City brawling with law enforcement has gone viral. And according to the city’s mayor, one of the teens had been arrested for robbery and released due to the bail reform law.

Conservatives don’t need to conspire to release someone who could have killed or seriously injured Zeldin to make their case against the bail reform law.

But rather than admit that it has flaws, Democrats would rather promote some theory — without any concrete evidence — that Zeldin’s allies conspired to release his assailant, potentially putting him and others at risk for the sake of politics in a race that, to be honest, is a long shot for the Republican. And the Times is promoting it.

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