The Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties’ Libertarian parties will not endorse a Jamestown man for the 57th State Senate District, citing concerns over sexual misconduct allegations against him and the authenticity of his military and education history.
The parties released a joint statement on the Chautauqua County Libertarian Party’s Facebook page Monday night explaining why they declined to endorse Uriel Isaacovich of Jamestown, a retired rabbi who has been campaigning on social media for the state Senate seat vacated by Catharine Young.
“After a series of discussions as well as a review into Isaacovich’s background, claims, statements, as well as concerning allegations, the Chautauqua County Libertarian Party and Cattaraugus County Libertarian Party will not endorse or nominate Uriel Isaacovich,” the statement read, adding the parties never officially endorsed or nominated him.
Chautauqua County Libertarian Party Chairman Andrew Martin Kolstee did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday, but told Western New York News Now the “concerning allegations” about Isaacovich were related to sexual misconduct, and Isaacovich made claims “that could not be proven.”
“I deny the allegations,” Isaacovich, who also goes by the name Glenn French, told the Olean Times Herald Tuesday, “and as far as my background — military, educational, what have you — it is no one’s business but mine.”
Isaacovich, 68, said the sexual misconduct allegations come from two women claiming on social media he made unwanted advances by kissing them and trying to kiss them, respectively, at local open mic events; Isaacovich performs as a stand-up comedian.
Isaacovich said the first accuser is an acquaintance who approached him and hugged him as he was sitting down.
“She moved up when I went to kiss her on the cheek and I may have kissed her on the neck (on accident),” he said, “but I was not the aggressor, she was the aggressor.”
Isaacovich claims he does not know the second accuser and denies the incident ever taking place.
As for the questions surrounding his military background, Isaacovich said it’s due to him declining the Chautauqua County Libertarian Party’s request to post his DD Form 214 — military discharge papers — on social media. He said the form contains sensitive information like his Social Security number and date of birth.
Isaacovich said he served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1972, including time in Vietnam. He also said he served in the Israeli army, “but that information is confidential and, for lack of a better word, classified.”
As for questions surrounding his postsecondary education, Isaacovich said he attended college in Florida and the state’s privacy laws prevented the local Libertarian parties from verifying his degrees.
Florida law makes postsecondary educational records confidential and exempt from public records, and prohibits disclosure of such records, except as authorized by federal law.
However, Isaacovich said the questions surrounding his military and educational background are irrelevant to his candidacy.
“I wasn’t running as a military vet or war hero. I was not running as some sort of scholar. I was running as an ordinary Joe trying to make a difference,” he said, “and it got blew all out of proportion.”
Isaacovich, who said he has never held public office, said he was approached to run by members of the Cattaraugus County Libertarian Party.
Luke Wenke, chairman of the Cattaraugus County Libertarian Party, said he knows Isaacovich personally and pushed to make him the party’s candidate, adding he was not made aware of sexual misconduct allegations against Isaacovich until Sunday.
“I would have personally preferred a more thorough investigation into the matter but ultimately everyone else in the cross county party meeting decided to cut the cord immediately,” said Wenke, adding state election law mandated Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties’ Libertarian parties jointly endorse one candidate as the only two Libertarian parties in the 57th State Senate District.
He added that despite the setback with Isaacovich, the Cattaraugus County Libertarian Party has exclusively Libertarian county legislature candidates “all over this county who can win.”
Isaacovich said he has a “bad taste” in his mouth about the local Libertarian Party.
“The people in the Libertarian Party really let me down and caused even more problems in my life,” he said. “I’m going to have a hard time putting my life back together after this nonsense.”
While saying he’ll likely never involve himself in politics again, Isaacovich said his friends are still advocating for him as a write-in candidate for the state Senate race.
“My response to them was if you write me in and I win, all well and good, I’ll do the job,” he said. “If I don’t win, so be it.”
A special election for the currently vacant Senate seat will be held Nov. 5. Young resigned from the seat in March to accept a position at Cornell AgriTech’s Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture.