NIAF Leadership and Italian American Organizations Criticize NY Candidate Rob Astorino Remarks


Contact: Elissa Ruffino, 202-939-3106,


*NIAF President Calls for Civility and Respect within Community*

(Washington, D.C. –  July 30, 2014)  The National Italian Foundation’s leaders, including President John M. Viola, and other Italian American groups, react with shock and disappointment to Republican Gubernatorial candidate and Westchester County executive Rob Astorino remarks yesterday.  During a campaign stop in Syracuse, N.Y., Astorino compared incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the Anti-Corruption Moreland Commission to the actions of a Mafia boss, going as far as quoting from “The Godfather” about offers that can’t be refused.

Statement by NIAF President John M. Viola, “Astorino’s flippant use of such tired and detrimental anti-Italian stereotypes is not just about the perpetuation of stereotypes, but about a lack of unity and civility in how members of the Italian American community deal with one another and our shared identity.

“I would be hard pressed to find an example of another ethnic group that would sling stereotypical barbs at one another in a local community board election, let alone a race of such exposure and importance.  We need Italian American leaders to show civility and respect for one another within our own community.

“Over the decades, NIAF has wrestled with the question of how far our efforts towards anti-defamation really go in effecting negative misconceptions of the Italian American community, and the results have been hard to measure.  But, what can be said is that when those members of our own community who are seeking roles of leadership and high profile so carelessly use and perpetuate these disgusting myths, it does very little to help us, and sets  the community back far further than anyone from outside our own ethnic group.”

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit