top of page

Orange County Democratic Committee Press Statement Re. Asylum Seekers


Orange County, NY - Political leaders in Orange, Dutchess, and Putnam counties are calling for State Senator Rob Rolison to publicly apologize for his role in perpetuating a false narrative that has deeply harmed our community and further divided us on the crucial issue of housing for asylum seekers. Senator Rolison is so far one of the only elected officials to remain silent on the matter.

Last week, it was revealed that claims about homeless veterans being displaced from local hotels to accommodate asylum seekers were false, a lie spread by Sharon Toney-Finch, the Executive Director of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation (YIT) and amplified by local Republican leaders, including Senator Rolison. The fallout of this scandal has raised serious questions about the integrity of Senator Rolison and his responsibility to uphold the truth in the public discourse.

Zak Constantine, Chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, condemns the weaponization of the serious issue of veteran homelessness for political gain. "This is a new low for political discourse. Veterans are not props to be exploited for political convenience. They deserve real solutions, not to be used as fodder in a political war of words. It's time for Senator Rolison to acknowledge the falsehoods, apologize to our community, and commit to truthful, constructive discourse moving forward."

State Assemblyman Brian Maher, who also propagated these false claims, has publicly apologized and admitted he was "duped.” Yet Senator Rolison has failed to address his role in this controversy, raising questions about his complicity in this deceit.

Orange County Legislator Genesis Ramos shares her concern about the divisive impact of the false narrative on the local community. "In a time when we should be discussing practical solutions to the complex issues of migrants seeking asylum, homelessness, and access to basic social services, we are instead dealing with the repercussions of a false narrative. It is disappointing to see our community divided by misinformation."

“It's deeply troubling that Senator Rolison has yet to acknowledge his role in heightening tensions in our community. The people of Orange County deserve transparency and honesty from their elected officials.This silence cannot stand, we demand a public apology that is just as loud as his participation was.” said Ramos.

Minority Leader of the Dutchess County Legislator, Yvette Valdés Smith agrees, stating "Our constituents deserve leaders who strive for truth and integrity. It's deeply concerning that Senator Rolison chose to participate in spreading a lie rather than seeking the truth. We need leaders who will stand up for our community, not ones who use the struggles of veterans for political gain. Senator Rolison has a responsibility to the people of Dutchess County and all of New York to be transparent about his involvement in this malicious lie."

Informed by these false claims, Senator Rolison introduced legislation limiting the housing of migrants in hotels, citing the alleged displacement of veterans as justification. His failure to retract the legislation or acknowledge the falsity of its premise further calls into question his commitment to truth and accountability.

Additionally, Senator Rolison honored Sharon Toney-Finch with the New York State Senate Women of Distinction Award. He has not yet apologized for giving out this award in light of the harmful falsehoods she spread, though it is now hidden on his official New York State Senate website.

Leaders across the 39th Senate District call for Senator Rolison to apologize for furthering this divisive and untrue political narrative, and to clarify his involvement, if any, in the creation of the highly edited hotel receipt used to further this lie. They include:

  • Orange County Legislator, Genesis Ramos

  • Orange County Legislator, Kevindaryán Luján

  • Minority Leader of the Dutchess County Legislator, Yvette Valdés Smith

  • Dutchess County Legislator, Giancarlo Llaverias

  • Dutchess County Legislator, Kris Munn

  • Dutchess County Legislator, Brennan Kearney

  • Putnam County Legislator, Nancy Montgomery

  • Newburgh City Councilmember, Giselle Martínez

  • Chairman of the Orange County Democratic Committee, Zak Constantine

  • Chairman of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee, Michael Dupree

  • Chairwoman of the Putnam County Democratic Committee Jen Colamonico

The Orange County Democratic Committee is the organization that oversees and provides coordination for the largest political party in Orange County, NY. We support dynamic candidates with new ideas and diverse life experiences, from all walks of life.

26 views0 comments


bottom of page