EMBATTLED CITY Council candidate Manny Morales had his read-my-lips moment yesterday repeatedly saying that he hadn't discussed his decision to rescind the Democratic City Committee's endorsement with the party's chairman, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, in the wake of a Facebook scandal.
"I haven't spoken to him," Morales insisted during a news conference held at his Juniata Park campaign headquarters. "I sent him a letter [Thursday]."
Morales said he last spoke with Brady in February when he picked up the endorsement of ward leaders in the 7th Council District, which includes Morales' Frankford neighborhood.
Brady, however, vividly recalls a phone conversation with Morales on Wednesday.
"I talked to him," Brady told the Daily News shortly after Morales' press event. "I told him that the best thing he could do was . . . ask for the ward leaders to unendorse him."
Brady said Morales called to tell him that he had decided to go without the party's endorsement, given the allegations that he posted bigoted comments about blacks, gays, immigrants and welfare recipients on his Facebook page. Brady said he advised Morales to send him a letter to make it official. Morales did so on Thursday.
State Rep. Angel Cruz, a Democratic ward leader, said he selected Morales to run against Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez. Ten ward leaders voted to endorse him because "they'd rather go with anybody that they don't know" over Sanchez.
Cruz said he'll continue to support Morales, who insists his Facebook account was hacked and he never made the offending posts.
"If I'm proven wrong, we'll take it from there," Cruz said.
The scandal erupted Monday after Sanchez, who is running against Morales, circulated screen shots that she said came from Morales' Facebook page.
At yesterday's press conference, Morales stood before reporters crammed into a narrow storefront campaign office on Hunting Park Avenue and again denied that he wrote the Facebook posts. He maintains that someone, likely Sanchez, either doctored his Facebook page or used Photoshop to create fake posts, although he has not provided any proof of that.
"I am saying they are not my views and I did not make those postings," Morales said. "I repeat, I did not make those postings.
"We apologize to the party for all [the] chaos and distraction," he said. "I am not quitting or stepping down from this race. I will campaign hard. I will campaign fair and I will not engage in any negative politics, period. Manny Morales is for everyone."
Morales said he's asked the District Attorney's Office for an investigation into "fraudulent signatures" on Sanchez's nominating petitions. He cited three signatures from dead people.
Sanchez, in a statement, said she submitted more than 4,000 signatures, although she only needed 750, to get on the ballot. In collecting signatures, canvassers trust that voters tell the truth about themselves, she said.
"Manny Morales has only raised questions about three of those signatures . . . What he is doing now is only an attempt to distract from his own record of hateful remarks," she said.
Michael Blackie, Morales' campaign spokesman, said they are conducting an "in-house" forensic investigation of the "Facebook fiasco. Eight residents came out to support Morales, saying they have never heard him utter a bad word about anyone.
"I don't see any racism in him at all," said Vernon Green, 57, of Kensington. "I am a real African-American and I am from the 'hood so I ain't no prop that's been put here."
David Perez, 28, also of Kensington, described Morales as a good friend.
"I'm an open homosexual," Perez said. "I never had any disrespect from Manny."