Democratic socialist and feminist Julia Salazar is running for the New York state Senate’s 18th District, in North Brooklyn, where she’s challenging an incumbent Democrat in today’s primary election. She’s a former registered Republican who ran a pro-life group in college but is now a pro-choice candidate.
Salazar has been telling people she was raised Jewish in a “working class” home, when she’s actually a trust-fund recipient who was raised in a middle-class Catholic family. She was arrested in 2011 for allegedly impersonating the wife of a player for the New York Mets, with whom she was accused of having an affair.
She has publicly accused a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, David Keyes, of sexual assault, then claimed that she was “outed” as a sexual assault survivor when a news organization reported on it.
But none of that matters to Teen Vogue, which published a fluffy interview with Salazar today devoid of a single question about the conflicting statements she’s made about her background and identity. Here are seven wild stories that have been reported about the 27-year-old democratic socialist from Brooklyn.
1. She Claims She Was ‘Outed’ As A Sexual Assault Survivor
Earlier this week, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that, in a since-deleted Facebook post, Salazar accused Keyes of sexually assaulting her in his New York apartment. When the DCNF asked Salazar’s campaign for a comment, her spokesman confirmed the allegation and did not ask for the remark to be off-the-record nor for anonymity.
“Julia was a survivor of sexual assault by David Keyes, and she is aware of other women who have also been victimized by him,” the spokesman said, according to the DCNF. “There’s a reason women don’t often come forward after a traumatic experience-—because of the harmful responses and retaliation that can follow.”
After the campaign spokesman told the DCNF this, Salazar tweeted that she was about to be “outed” as a sexual assault survivor.
I’m about to be outed as a survivor of sexual assault. Here is what I have to say about that: pic.twitter.com/WFjNhzBee8
— Julia Salazar for State Senate (@SalazarSenate18) September 11, 2018
Several media outlets have run with her narrative, including Jezebel’s political blog, The Slot, which reported that her decision to go public with the allegations weren’t really “on her own terms.”
Since the story broke, 12 women have accused Keyes of improper sexual behavior — allegations that Keyes denies.
“All of the accusations are deeply misleading and many of them are categorically false,” he told The Times of Israel.
If Salazar was assaulted, she deserves justice. But regardless of the truth of her claim, she was not “outed” by the DCNF. If she didn’t want to talk about her experience, she shouldn’t have posted about it on Facebook or let her campaign spokesman confirm the account on the record to a reporter. Unfortunately, her issues with credibility and telling the truth about herself understandably raise doubts about the merits of her accusation.
2. She Was Arrested For Allegedly Impersonating A Mets Player’s Wife
Salazar was arrested in 2011 for allegedly impersonating Kai Hernandez, the wife of baseball player Keith Hernandez, in an attempt to access her bank account. Tablet Magazine’s Yair Rosenberg obtained the recordings of Salazar’s phone calls to UBS Bank, in which she changes the email address on the account and attempts to dodge security questions.
After Tablet’s report was published, Salazar’s lawyer, Adam Hecht, commented that, “Kai Hernandez’s bizarre and fraudulent attempts to defame and victimize Julia were recognized as baseless by the authorities, who declined to file charges, and this matter was resolved with a monetary settlement of $20,000 in Julia’s favor.”
3. She Was Accused Of Having An Affair with Mets Player Keith Hernandez
The Daily Mail reported that Kai Hernandez once accused Salazar of having an affair with her husband during their four-year-long court battle. Kai Hernandez also told police that Salazar “stole $11,800 in cash, $1,175 in Pottery Barn vouchers and $950 worth of wine while house-sitting for her in Jupiter, Florida.”
Keith Hernandez denies the allegations and Salazar released a statement saying that she was the victim of a scheme by a wealthy woman.
“Keith, Kai and Julia agree that there was no affair,” Hecht said in a statement.
Here’s how Salazar responded to questions about her relationship with Hernandez:
#Brooklyn state Senate candidate @SalazarSenate18 was accused years ago of having an affair with Keith Hernandez, according to a report Thursday. Here’s what she had to say about the accusation and a defamation lawsuit against the former Mets star’s ex-wife. pic.twitter.com/RCuAig2HXO
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) September 6, 2018
4. She’s Misled the Public About Having Jewish Ancestry
In an article entitled “Julia Salazar Says Jewish Roots Helped Inspire Her Political Activism,” the democratic socialist plays up her Jewish background to the Jewish publication Forward.
“She also came from a unique Jewish background. She was born in Colombia, and her father was Jewish, descended from the community expelled from medieval Spain. When her family immigrated to the United States, they had little contact with the American Jewish community, struggling to establish themselves financially.”
Here’s what she had to say about her background to Jewish Currents magazine:
Growing up, I always knew a lot of my family was Catholic. I also knew I had a Sephardic last name, and it made me curious. I was told that I had Jewish family when I was growing up. My parents gave me an intellectual interest and spiritual interest in both Christianity and Judaism. My dad would talk about his dad being Sephardi, and then he would talk about it as a spiritual and geographical connection. And it was confusing as a kid. I read a lot, and my parents encouraged me to read the Bible and apologetics and Torah as well. But I didn’t have a bat mitzvah, or a confirmation, or any of that sort of thing.
Her brother disputes Salazar’s account, saying that no one in their family is Jewish.
“There was nobody in our immediate family who was Jewish,” Alex Salazar told Tablet Magazine. “My father was not Jewish, we were not raised Jewish.”
Maria Emilia Naranjo Ramos, a genealogist with the Colombian Academy of Genealogy and Historic Academy of Córdoba, told the Daily Intelligencer that Salazar “is the scion of longtime Latin-American Catholic elites.”
Her direct-line ancestors include the mayor of Bogota, elected in 1824, and a founder and mayor of the city of Manizales. Her great-grandfather Félix Salazar Jaramillo was a congressman, senator, and minister of finance for the Republic of Colombia during two separate presidential administrations. A Colombian Conservative Party politician, he later became manager of the then–newly established Bank of the Republic in 1924, the country’s first central bank. Her ancestor Captain Mariano Grillo was a martyr of the independence, having been sentenced to death by firing squad in 1816 during the fight to throw off the shackles of Spain. Along the way other direct-line family members were military captains, doctors, and businessmen.
5. She’s Lied About Having A College Degree
Citizens Union has rescinded it’s endorsement of Salazar after discovering that the candidate never actually graduated from Columbia University, like she has implied on campaign materials. In an interview with The New York Times, she conceded “that while she had completed her course work, she had not graduated and did not intend to.”
6. She’s Misrepresented Her Family As Working-Class Immigrants
Salazar was born in Florida to a father who is a naturalized citizen from Columbia and a mother who is from New Jersey. Vox Reporter Zack Beauchamp spoke to Salazar’s brother, Alex, who disputed much of the childhood Salazar has telegraphed.
Alex thinks Julia is the one with the faulty memory. ‘My mom certainly worked very hard. But if we’re talking about what class level we were at, you’d have to have a pretty wide definition of working class — to include everyone other than millionaires, or something like that,’ he said. ‘We lived a comfortable life, I’ll put it that way.’
Here’s a photo of her childhood home, as provided by her brother.
Court documents reveal that Salazar had a trust fund valued at $685,000. Her inherited wealth was used as evidence to advocate for her innocence in the impersonation accusations. Her attorney essentially argued that she was so wealthy she had no need to impersonate Kai Hernandez and steal.
Based on the documents I've seen, there were actually two funds, totaling together around $685,000. https://t.co/iZYTHJ5VW8
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) September 7, 2018
7. She’s Only Been Registered As a Democrat For a Year
When she first registered to vote in 2008, Salazar did so as a Republican then was registered as a member of the Independence Party when she moved to New York to attend Columbia University. It was only in 2017, when she moved to Brooklyn, that she switched her voter registration to Democrat, the New York Daily News reported.
“She had conservative views at the time of graduating high school,” her campaign spokesperson told the Daily News. “But they quickly changed as she went to college in 2009.”
This statement conflicts with Salazar’s history as a pro-life activist in college. While at Columbia, she served as president of Columbia Right to Life. In her capacity as leader of the campus pro-life club, she fought against the university funding abortion with money from mandatory student fees, the Gothamist reported.
At a Cynthia Nixon press conference, demonstrators began shouting and yelling that Salazar was a “liar” for switching her party affiliation. Nixon and Salazar have endorsed each other in their respective races.
.@CynthiaNixon press conference explodes into chaos as demonstrators shout down participants calling @SalazarSenate18 a “liar” for switching her party affiliation to Democrat from Republican. pic.twitter.com/YnQsyS8E2h
— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) July 26, 2018
It’s no surprise that the Salazar campaign has yet to clarify or address many of these reports, and even less surprising that media outlets continue to write glowing profiles and “explanations” for her misleading stories about herself.