Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) allegedly called an executive at a local TV station earlier this week and threatened to pull his advertising if the station televised a debate in which the congressman refused to participate, according to an email sent by the executive which described the call with Hanna, later obtained by The Huffington Post.
Dan Lamb, Hanna's Democratic challenger for the newly drawn 22nd District in central New York, was prepared to take the stage by himself Friday for the taping of a 30-minute question and answer session, but the coverage was canceled after an "angry" Hanna contacted the station, according to the email by the executive, Stephen Merren, vice president and general manager of WUTR-TV in Utica, N.Y.
The Oct. 3 email was addressed to three staffers at WSYR; the news director of WUTR; the co-chief operating officer of Nexstar Broadcasting, which operates WUTR; and Lamb spokesman Mike Morosi, who sent the email to The Huffington Post. Merren said Thursday that Morosi was accidentally included as a recipient of the email, according to the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin.
WUTR-TV had planned to co-host the debate with Syracuse's WSYR-TV, Merren wrote in the email.
“[Hanna] indicated to me that we would not be considered for his ad dollars and our level of cooperation in the future could be affected," Merren wrote.
Lamb told The Huffington Post, "My opponent has been caught coercing a television station."
"This is a big deal," he continued. "This is about a millionaire congressman manipulating a television station and succeeding."
Merren of WUTR and Hanna's office did not respond to a request for comment early Friday afternoon.
Text of the email as sent to HuffPost by the Lamb campaign:
What's happening in your district? The Huffington Post wants to know about all the campaign ads, mailers, robocalls, candidate appearances and other interesting campaign news happening by you. Email any tips, videos, audio files or photos to email@example.com.