Racist comments recorded for ‘no personal interest’

BUFFALO, N.Y (WIVB)- The man who secretly recorded a public housing official making racist comments makes no apologies for it.

It was March 9 when Paul Christopher secretly pulled out his phone while riding to work with Joe Mascia. Christopher had hired Mascia to work for him in his janitorial business for about a year. Christopher says he terminated Mascia in April for reasons that had nothing to do with racist comments.

Christopher also says he did not release this recording to be vengeful toward Mascia.

“I want people to know that I have no personal interest in any type of politics. I did not wear a wire. I did not bait Joe Mascia into saying anything, any racial slurs or anything. I did it personally because of the morals that I was brought up with to stop smearing people.”

Mascia lashed back.

“And do you expect your friend, who you’ve known for 35 years to record a private conversation, no.”

In the six minute recording, Mascia refers to Mayor Byron Brown, Common Council President Darius Pridgen, and other elected leaders by ‘the N-word’. At one point he adds, “Once they’re in power, forget about it, forget it. They want it all.”

FULL PHONE CALL | Listen to the entire phone call below, or click here if on the News 4 app

Christopher says he had heard Mascia use the N-Word several times before. This recording surfaced within days of Mascia submitting signatures to run for Common Council, but Christopher says he released it weeks ago, before he even knew Mascia was running for Council. He was aware that Mascia is an elected representative of 11,000 public housing tenants.

Christopher doesn’t deny wanting to get this out before voters vote.

“Absolutely, because I didn’t want to have somebody like Joe Mascia in office to detriment the City of Buffalo, where I grew up, and where my children are now a part of.”

Council President Darius Pridgen heard the recording.

“I was just very surprised and a little hurt that someone disrespected not only me but other people of color so easily.”

Mayor Byron Brown is calling on Mascia to resign from his position on the BMHA Board.

“I think that he is unfit for public office after his racist comments.”

On Thursday afternoon, during a regular meeting of the BMHA, the other Board members asked the press and Mascia to leave the room so they could go into executive session and discuss the recorded comments. After about an hour, they came back into regular session and voted to call on Mascia to resign as a commissioner.

He has no intention of doing that.

“No, I’m an elected official just like any other elected official. I made a mistake. The people elected me. If the people don’t want me, that’s the people’s choice. I’m up for election again next year in May.”

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