Haber pulls controversial ad against Suozzi

Adam Haber, a Democratic candidate for Nassau county

Adam Haber, a Democratic candidate for Nassau county executive (April 17, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

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Nassau County executive candidate Adam Haber has canceled a controversial television advertisement against former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, Haber's opponent in the Democratic primary.

The political ad has drawn criticism from a national Italian-American group and some local Democrats for its portrayal of a group of political "hacks" eating spaghetti and drinking red wine and talking about how to get Suozzi back into office.

"The intent was never to offend any group, but to draw attention to the troubling facts: Suozzi doled out millions in raises to himself and his appointees while raising taxes on middle-class families and saddling Nassau with the highest debt in the state," Haber said Wednesday in a news release.

"I apologize to anyone who has been offended," Haber said. "As a candidate and county executive, I will always strive to listen to the concerns of all Nassau residents and I hope we can get back to the issues as quickly as possible."

The Suozzi campaign had no comment, said spokesman Danny Kazin.

In the ad, which went up June 19, five men at a restaurant table toast Suozzi for giving $1.1 million in pay raises to political appointees in 2007; for a $65,000 salary raise to himself that year and for hiring retired cops as drivers.

Suozzi administration officials had defended the pay increases to appointees as necessary to retain talent. In lobbying for his salary hike, Suozzi noted that he earned less than Suffolk's county executive. The retired police drivers allowed him to work while traveling, Suozzi said.

Santina A. Haemmerle, president of the anti-defamation branch of the Order Sons of Italy in America, had called the ad "unfair" and "unjust." Haemmerle said Haber "did the right thing by taking that ad down . . . It affected all of us [Italian Americans], who have been subjected to so much negativity in the media. I'm glad he listened."

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