Democrats at the Nassau Board of Elections this week tried to hire the father of the central figure in a political controversy that brought down the police commissioner, but pulled back the job offer after party attorneys argued that it could create a negative impression, officials said.
Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said E. Rassan Hoskins of Hempstead is an old friend who is "down on his luck" and had been asking for a county job for more than a year.
The board laid off a handful of employees earlier in the week in a postelection shuffle, opening a spot for Hoskins as a $40,000-per-year research aide, Jacobs said.
Personnel documents obtained by Newsday show that a request to hire Hoskins was submitted on Tuesday -- five days after Police Commissioner Thomas Dale resigned -- with an expected start date of Dec. 27.
But Jacobs said party attorneys quickly scuttled the hire, arguing it would create "perception problems."
"This was not an issue where we were caught with our hand in the cookie jar. I knew it would look terrible and therefore decided not to go through with it," Jacobs said.
Hoskins' son, Randy White of Roosevelt, found himself at the center of a series of events that led to Dale's resignation last week.
Hoskins, a Democratic committeeman, said he asked Jacobs for a job about 18 months ago, but was unaware the party had made a decision. "I don't think I did anything that should have affected my ability to earn a living," Hoskins said.
Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner William Biamonte was on vacation and not reachable for comment.
White, 29, was hired to collect signatures for the campaign of former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, who was attempting to wage a third-party bid for county executive.
In October, White testified in court that Hardwick had illegally paid him for each signature he had collected. The disclosure helped scuttle Hardwick's bid to get on the ballot.
Days later, Gary Melius, owner of the Oheka Castle catering hall in Huntington and the lone donor to Hardwick's campaign, called Dale and said the campaign wanted to file a perjury charge against White, according to a report released last week by Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
After police failed to find sufficient evidence to file a perjury charge, Dale directed officers to pull White off a county bus and arrest him on an outstanding warrant for not paying a $250 civil fine, the report said.
Rice found Dale did not commit a crime and that Republican County Executive Edward Mangano was not aware of the plan.
Jacobs, who said Dale should have been charged with witness tampering, said the decision to hire Hoskins was made before the bus incident. He said the board typically makes personnel changes after the November election -- which was won by Mangano -- and that the timing of Hoskins' attempted hire was "unfortunate and coincidental."
But Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the job offer can appear to be a quid pro quo for White's testimony against Hardwick. "Given the appearance of a political payoff in exchange for favoring testimony from the Mr. Hoskins' son, I wonder if Democrat party boss Jay Jacobs will call upon prosecutors to investigate himself," Nevin said.
Jacobs said the attempted hire of Hoskins "doesn't change the fact that a crime was committed and there was an abuse of police authority."
With Matthew Chayes