New Haber TV ad suggests Suozzi misused public money

An image from a campaign ad paid for An image from a campaign ad paid for by Adam Haber. (June 23, 2013) Photo Credit: YouTube

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Nassau County executive candidate Adam Haber has released his second television ad of the campaign, a 30-second spot that suggests his Democratic primary opponent, former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, misused public resources while in office.

The ad, which began airing on cable stations on Wednesday, features a group of men identified as political "hacks" at a restaurant drinking red wine, eating pasta and discussing why Suozzi needs to be re-elected.

The ad cites $1.1 million in pay raises Suozzi gave to political appointees in 2007; a $65,000 salary increase Suozzi received as county executive that year, and his hiring of retired police detectives as taxpayer-funded drivers.

"Guys like us couldn't ask for a better friend than Suozzi," one burly actor says in the ad, which concludes with the men raising their glasses in a toast to Suozzi.

A Suozzi campaign spokesman did not respond to calls for comment. Earlier this week, Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said Haber, a retired businessman from East Hills, was "distorting" Suozzi's record in the ad, but later declined to elaborate.

In 2007, Suozzi administration officials defended the pay increases to appointees as necessary to retain top talent. Suozzi in 2007 lobbied for the increase to his salary, arguing that he was paid less than Suffolk's county executive. Suozzi said the retired police drivers allowed him to work while traveling.

Lew Yevoli, a former Democratic supervisor in the Town of Oyster Bay who is managing the campaign of Democratic comptroller candidate Howard Weitzman, said that "as an Italian-American, I find it [the Haber ad] offensive. It shows Italians looking unscrupulous. And the message seems to be that Tom Suozzi has nefarious dealings."

Haber campaign manager Justin Myers called Yevoli's comments a "desperate attempt to deflect from the fact that Suozzi doled out millions in raises to himself and his cronies while raising taxes on middle class families and saddling Nassau with the highest debt in the state."

Myers said the ad "highlights some of the ways Tom Suozzi misused taxpayer dollars for his personal gain."

Suozzi was in office from 2002 through 2009, when he was defeated by Republican Edward Mangano. The winner of the Democratic primary on Sept. 10 will challenge Mangano in November.

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