Rick Brand Portrait of Newsday reporter Rick Brand taken on

Rick Brand is a longtime Newsday reporter who writes about politics and government on Long Island.

Possible Suffolk district attorney hopeful Laura Ahearn declined to appear before the Suffolk Conservative committee Sunday, saying the event posed a “potential ethical conflict,” even though the minor party tried to allay her qualms.

On the eve of candidate screening, Ahearn issued a statement criticizing the minor party for allowing party secretary Michael Torres to arrange the screening appointments for DA contenders while facing criminal charges himself.

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Frank Tinari, Suffolk Conservative chair, said he learned of Ahearn’s concerns when a Newsday reporter sought a reaction to her statement on the eve of the screening. Encouraging her participation, Tinari said Torres had “graciously agreed” not to take part in the meeting. “We’d be happy to have her come,” he said. “We want to give everyone a chance to make their case.”

Tinari conveyed his offer to Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer, who relayed it to Ahearn. She still declined to attend, saying the offer did “not inspire confidence that anything has changed under the current leadership.”