NY Senate Yanks Nomination Over Bogus Veteran Story

Sharon Toney-Finch is embroiled in controversy over fabricated story
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 5:55 PM CDT
NY State Senate Pulls Vet's 'Women of Distinction' Nom
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, talks to reporters.   (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Sharon Toney-Finch—a veteran and director of the YIT Foundation, which helps veterans and babies born prematurely—has found herself in the center of a controversy that has swept across the state of New York and led state Senate Democrats to rescind her "Women of Distinction" nomination, reports Mid Hudson News. Toney-Finch came under scrutiny following the dissemination of a story claiming that nearly two dozen homeless veterans had been evicted from a hotel in Newburgh, New York, to accommodate international migrants.

The story, initially picked up by the New York Post and later amplified by other outlets, elicited widespread outrage and led to calls for action, including legislative proposals to protect homeless veterans from displacement. However, an investigation by the Mid-Hudson News revealed that the eviction story was a fabrication, and Toney-Finch's initial claims were debunked. Elected officials reacted swiftly.

According to New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the nomination withdrawal was important to maintain the award's integrity. State Sen. Rob Rolison—who nominated Toney-Finch—expressed his disappointment and the hope that she is contrite. Officials including New York City Mayor Eric Adams have called for investigations into the YIT Foundation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, whose office confirmed it is reviewing the allegations. As the Daily Beast reports, the accusations against Toney-Finch include claims from men who say they were paid to pretend they were evicted veterans. Toney-Finch has responded vaguely with suggestions there was a misunderstanding, but she hasn't issued any direct denials. (More controversy stories.)

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