District Attorney-elect Madeline Singas’ campaign has won another victory — though well after Election Day.
A State Supreme Court justice in Mineola has ruled that the Town of Hempstead cannot refuse to provide copies of Supervisor Kate Murray’s and other town officials’ financial disclosures, and directed Hempstead to turn over the requested documents to the Singas campaign.
A month before the Nov. 4 election, Singas campaign lawyers went to court to try to force Hempstead to provide copies of the disclosures, in which Murray, the Republican candidate for district attorney, acknowledged that she had not practiced law for years. Hempstead had allowed Singas campaign officials to view the documents, but not to copy them.
Singas, a Democrat, was then the acting district attorney and seeking election to a full term. Her campaign focused on contrasting Murray’s lack of courtroom experience to Singas’ 20 years as a prosecutor. Singas handily defeated Murray, who leaves her supervisor post in January.
Although Nassau’s other towns and its county government provide copies of officials’ financial disclosures, Hempstead argued that general municipal law allowed the town to create its own rules on disclosing information under a Freedom of Information request.
However, Supreme Court Justice Angela Iannacci ruled in a Nov. 19 decision that “the court can find no support for this argument” in state law. She said the state’s public officer’s law “is abundantly clear in its mandate that a municipal agency shall make all records available for inspection and copying” — though private information defined by state law can be redacted.
Hempstead’s other arguments “are equally without merit,” Iannacci wrote.
“This is a victory for government transparency and Hempstead should promptly abandon its illegal policy that restricts disclosure of these records,” said Singas’ campaign manager Isaac Goldberg.
Hempstead Town Spokesman Michael Deery said: “Our town attorney’s office has not had an opportunity to review the decision. As such we can’t comment on it at this time.”