Endorsements Evaporate in NY SAG-AFTRA Race

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Roberta Reardon

Was Roberta Reardon endorsed by the union’s secretary-treasurer and a past SAG president? Maybe three weeks ago –- or maybe not.

Now you see them, now you don't.

What looked like endorsements of union co-president Roberta Reardon's campaign for NY Local president have disappeared -- or may never have been endorsements in the first place. Quotes from union co-secretary/treasurer Amy Aquino and former SAG president Richard Masur appeared in a June 30 press release issued by Reardon and board member Sue-Anne Morrow announcing their slate, NY Coalition 4 Unity, and Reardon's candidacy at the top of that ticket.

The Aquino and Masur quotes also appeared on NYC4U's online quotes page but have since disappeared. And while photos of Aquino and union co-president Ken Howard appeared on either side of Reardon's on the NYC4U home page, with an "endorsed" label, they've since been removed.

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The quotes appeared in the press release under the heading "A number of National and former National Officers are also openly voicing support for Co-President Reardon."

However, in e-mails to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday, both Aquino and Masur said those quotes were not meant as endorsements. (When THR first reported the formation of NYC4U, neither Aquino nor Masur objected to the reporting of them as endorsing Reardon.)

On Saturday, Aquino told THR, "I am remaining neutral with regard to New York," and added, "I have never been on record as endorsing Roberta Reardon or Mike Hodge for New York president, because I have never endorsed anyone in that race." (Hodge tops the ticket for the heretofore incumbents, Unite SAG-AFTRA Nationwide, formerly United Screen Actors Nationwide, which despite its name, is a New York group.)

In a July 20 e-mail to members, Aquino said, "USAN and NYC4U are each running many great candidates whom I know to be strong leaders, so I simply cannot endorse one over the other." She added, "If you have questions about individuals, let me know and I'll help all that I can."

So where did the June 30 Aquino quote come from? Reardon was emphatic in an interview with THR on Sunday: "Amy gave us the quote. Amy wrote the quote. She has always been a supporter of mine."

While Aquino told THR the quote belongs to her, she denies that it was intended as an endorsement.

"I wrote it in response to hearing trash talk about Roberta’s character. Having been the target of similar attacks in the past, I did what I'd wished others would have done for me, regardless of their political affiliations. I gave it to Roberta to use on the site to counter the slander." But "once I saw it on the site, I asked that it be removed as it gave the appearance that I was endorsing Roberta or the slate, when indeed I had not.

"The issue was have I 'endorsed'? I have not. And I will not."

The Aquino quote also contained a reference to, and short embedded quote from, Howard, implying he had endorsed Reardon. That's not the case; he has endorsed Hodge for NY Local president.

Masur's quote also appears in a July 1 post on Reardon's Facebook page, which shows it as part of a May 11 e-mail praising Reardon for the commercials contract.

On Saturday, Masur told THR: "I have not endorsed anyone in the New York Local Election at this time. The quote is accurate but was from an e-mail I sent out many weeks ago, which was completely unrelated to this election."

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So why did Masur's quote appear in the press release? Reardon declined to say.

Meanwhile, over at USAN's home page, Howard's picture predictably appears in a rotating slideshow, since he has endorsed Hodge -- but Aquino's picture appears as well, with the heading "USAN Endorses." USAN and NYC4U have both endorsed Howard and Aquino.

Hodge had no comment on the situation.

Two years ago, in another factionalized New York race, Aquino did support Hodge over challenger Sam Robards and his One.Strong.Union slate.

One participant described the evanescent quotes and photos as a result of a race that pits "friends against friends." Others, however, described it as a struggle between legacy SAG and legacy AFTRA factions. Both may be right -- but exactly what happened, and why, remains unclear.

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Email: jhandel99@gmail.com

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Relevant portions of the June 30, 2013, NYC4U press release follow:

From: Roberta Reardon <xxx@xxx.xxx>

Subject: NYCoalition4Unity Launches Campaign

Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2013 22:28:52 -0400

To: Jonathan Handel <xxx@xxx.xxx>


Roberta Reardon

Sue-Anne Morrow

DATE: 30 June 2013



[New York] On Sunday, New York Coalition for Unity, a slate of SAG-AFTRA leaders, declared its candidacy for office in the new union. . ..

NYC4U, includes SAG-AFTRA co-president Roberta Reardon as NY presidential candidate, with Anne Gartlan, Holter Graham, Jim Kerr, and Sue-Anne Morrow running as vice presidents. The group is comprised of former SAG and AFTRA leaders, headed by current co-national president, Roberta Reardon, one of the chief authors of SAG-AFTRA’s merger.

. . .

A number of National and former National Officers are also openly voicing support for Co-President Reardon:

“We can thank Co-President and Commercials Negotiating Chair Roberta Reardon for the $238 million gain in Commercials wages and benefits that was, as Ken Howard says, a show of “REAL strength”. Roberta’s vision, courage and hands-on leadership brought us together in merger and then brought unprecedented unity at the bargaining table. Reardon is a true leader.”

Amy Aquino - National Co-Secretary Treasurer, SAG-AFTRA

. . .

“As a member of the SAG and SAG-AFTRA national boards, and a National Vice President and President of SAG, I have known, worked with or observed closely every President of SAG and AFTRA for a quarter of a century and I can say without fear of contradiction that Roberta is among the very best... She has articulated eloquently what is needed to strengthen and enhance the unions she has led….”

Richard Masur  SAG-AFTRA National Board member, former SAG National President