Nassau's financial control board never voted on a $12 million county contract that is central to a federal corruption case against Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who this week stepped down as State Senate majority leader, and his son, Adam, officials acknowledged Wednesday.
Instead, the contract with Arizona-based AbTech Industries was approved automatically because the Nassau Interim Finance Authority did not act within 60 days of receiving it as required by state law, the county legislature's budget review office reported Wednesday.
That means there was no public discussion by NIFA about the contract, which had been approved by the county legislature's Rules Committee with no questions asked.ColumnJanison: Feds' Skelos charges outline multi-sided scandalSee alsoRead the complaint vs. SkelosMore coverageSenate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Adam Skelos face corruption charges
"This report only proves the need for immediate passage of the [lobbyist] disclosure bill filed by the Democratic caucus," said the county legislature's minority leader, Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), who asked for the report.
Abrahams voted for the AbTech contract, but he and other legislators say they did not know Adam Skelos worked for the company and had lobbied county officials to use its storm-water filtering technology.
Last week, federal prosecutors charged Dean Skelos and his son with conspiracy, bribery and extortion, alleging the senator pressured a developer to funnel money to his son through companies including AbTech. Both Dean and Adam Skelos have denied any wrongdoing.
Nassau Democratic lawmakers and County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, have proposed new lobbying disclosure laws. Mangano also said he is drafting an executive order to mandate disclosure.
NIFA spokesman David Chauvin said the AbTech contract was submitted to NIFA on July 30, 2013, and was automatically approved Oct. 1. Besides two small contracts, "there were no other issues requiring a full board meeting during this time period," he said.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appointed former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman on Sept. 18 to replace then-NIFA chairman Ronald Stack and filled two vacancies, but Chauvin said "their appointment played no role in this contract being acted upon by the board." He said the contract was treated according to NIFA guidelines.
After the scandal broke, the county stopped payments to AbTech, which received $150,141, and suspended its contract. The AbTech work done so far is not reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the report says. Lawmakers had been told much of the contract would be financed through state and federal grants.
Adam Skelos is not listed on any of the 171 pages of attached claim vouchers listing employees who worked on the project.
Last week, with NIFA approval, Kaiman hired the Great Neck public relations firm Zimmerman/Edelson Inc. for a maximum $3,000 a month to field questions on the investigation and other legal issues. Chauvin, who had served as Kaiman's spokesman in North Hempstead, is the firm's point man on NIFA issues.
Kaiman said Chauvin was hired on a temporary basis to fill an immediate need while NIFA goes through a formal procurement process. Mangano did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the legislature's Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) declined to comment.