Nassau Dems: Probe Mangano campaign funds

Nassau Democrats have asked the state attorney general Nassau Democrats have asked the state attorney general to conduct a criminal investigation into their allegations that County Executive Edward Mangano illegally collected and spent thousands of dollars in campaign donations. (Jan. 30, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Nassau Democrats have asked the state attorney general to conduct a criminal investigation into their allegations that County Executive Edward Mangano illegally collected and spent thousands of dollars in campaign donations.

While a Mangano spokesman denied the allegations, Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs Wednesday filed complaints with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the State Board of Elections.

Jacobs alleged the Republican county executive took more than $70,000 above legal limits from 15 corporations, including some that do business with the county. He also contended that Mangano and his chief deputy, Rob Walker, who runs the Hicksville Republican Club, did not provide legally required explanations for more than $120,000 of "in-kind" noncash contributions or for about $100,000 in reimbursements to Walker, spokesman Brian Nevin and another county employee.

"This is not about petty, small or picky technical violations," Jacobs said Wednesday. "This is a pattern of gross violations that when looked at collectively paint the picture of an obvious intent to violate the election law without detection."

Nevin responded, "All campaign contributions were properly reported and the campaign will take the necessary steps to address any contributions that exceeded the cap. That being said, Jay Jacobs is purely sour over the fact that residents and businesses throughout Nassau support Ed Mangano for freezing county property taxes for three straight years . . ." while helping save and create private-sector jobs.

Mangano, whose campaign has $2.2 million in the bank, is running for re-election this fall.

Jacobs' complaint amends a similar one he filed with the state elections board in September that contended Mangano and Walker illegally used the Hicksville Republican club as a secret, unreported source of contributions to Mangano's campaign.

A State Board of Elections spokesman declined to comment then and also Wednesday.

Jacobs' attorney Steven Schlesinger wrote to Schneiderman that the first complaint "languished" at the elections board. "We believe your office has jurisdiction over the claims therein, including the right and obligation to prosecute the criminal violations" of the election law, he wrote.

Schneiderman spokesman James Freedland Wednesday confirmed receipt of the complaint but declined to comment.

Though Looks Great Services Inc. was not among the companies listed in the complaint, Democratic spokesman Michael Florio said the tree-debris removal firm also went over the limit by donating $10,745 to Mangano last year. He said the Mangano campaign improperly listed the Huntington company as a partnership, which is not subject to the $5,000 limit, even though the secretary of state says it is a corporation.

Nassau has awarded nearly $70 million in superstorm Sandy cleanup work to Looks Great, which uses dozens of subcontractors from around the country. Looks Great spokeswoman Risa Heller said the company "inadvertently donated an amount of money above the corporate gift limit to the Mangano campaign. They have asked for the money in excess of the limit to be returned."

You also may be interested in: