Nassau Democrats complained Thursday that county Republicans had illegally cut off their governmental mailings while continuing to send out taxpayer-paid fliers from GOP legislators and County Executive Edward Mangano.
Though a Republican spokesman denied unequal treatment, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said in letters hand-delivered to Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) and Mangano, that "such blatant discrimination based purely on party affiliation is plainly arbitrary, capricious and we believe unconstitutional. It seeks to limit governmental communications to a single political party in violation of basic principles of free speech, free association and equal protection."
Abrahams included a copy of proposed legislation filed by Democratic lawmakers that would suspend government-paid mailings 30 days before Election Day in a year when county officials run. All county elected officials are up for election.
If the Republican majority on the legislature does not support the bill, "we fully reserve our right to take further legal action," Abrahams said.
But GOP spokesman Frank Moroney said Democrats "should learn the facts before they shoot off a letter and their mouths." He said the county legislature has always had an informal cutoff of mailings before Election Day.
State officials said house rules determine cutoff dates for mailings sent by state senators and Assembly members. For the Senate, mailings can be sent no later than 30 days before a primary or general election. For the Assembly, which has more than twice as many members as the Senate, it's 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election.
The controversy was triggered when the county print shop refused a newsletter from Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) after Gonsalves on Sept. 9 suspended legislative materials' printing. Abrahams complained Republican fliers still continued to be delivered, "a clear indication that the majority caucus was forewarned of the alleged suspension."
Moroney responded that all legislators were given notice at the same time."The Republican mailings that hit were printed before the deadline, not after the deadline." he said.