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Assemblyman Hikind Blasts Patronage Accusations As Son Runs For Council

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Brooklyn City Council race has turned ugly, as two political dynasties battle for control of patronage and power.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, state Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) on Friday was giving out campaign keepsakes for his son, Yoni, who is in a pitched battle to succeed Councilman David Greenfield (D-44th) in the election Tuesday.

Assemblyman Hikind said he himself has become the target in the political battle.

"It's disgusting; it's shameful," the assemblyman said. "This is in the gutter with the mud."

The race pits Yoni Hikind against Greenfield's handpicked successor, Kalman Yeger. It is a Borough Park district in which patronage admittedly has often thrived.

Yoni Hikind, Kalman Yeger
Yoni Hikind, son of Assemblyman Dov Hikind; and Kalman Yeger, handpicked successor to City Councilman David Greenfield, are running for the City Council in their Borough Park, Brooklyn district. (Credit: CBS2)

But with the election just days away, the assemblyman now finds himself accused of patronage – steering millions to a well-respected community group which, in turn, gave money to a nonprofit called Our Place that hired Yoni Hikind.

Assemblyman Hikind said Greenfield is behind the story.

"Mr. Yeger, David Greenfield and a couple of other people – we know they are behind all of these dirty things," the assemblyman said.

"This is usual politics for that part of Brooklyn," said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. "Everybody attacks everybody because the stakes are really high – in this case, who's going to be the political boss of that part of Brooklyn."

Assemblyman Hikind is facing accusations that he steered millions in government funds to a group, Guardians of the Sick, which in turn, gave grans to the nonprofit that employed his son. He hotly denies doing anything wrong, saying he supported the organization for decades because it does terrific work with the elderly, kids at risk, and Holocaust survivors.

"I was helping that organization since 1982, when Yoni was 2 years old," Assemblyman Hikind said. "Has nothing to do with Yoni."

Greenfield refused to go on camera, saying Hikind was trying to "deflect decades of unethical behavior."

Greenfield's protégé did not return calls seeking comment.

When Kramer asked Assemblyman Hikind if he gave Guardians of the Sick money to give to Our Place so the latter charity could afford to pay his son, Hikind said, "Of course not."

CBS2 spoke to the director of the Guardians of the Sick. Rabbi Avi Fishoff said his groups have done nothing wrong, and is only interested in helping people.

He said he can account for every penny.

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