A member of Nassau's financial control board has asked State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to investigate the former county attorney's approval of a $60,000 payment to an Albany lobbyist whose contract was rejected by the board.
George Marlin, a member of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, wrote Schneiderman last week, contending that former County Attorney John Ciampoli's action to pay lobbyist Robert Bishop "should be reviewed as potentially illegal, as a violation of the NIFA Act" -- the state legislation that created the financial oversight board.
If the payment is allowed to stand, Marlin wrote, it would essentially "nullify" NIFA's state-mandated power "to review and reject contracts during a control period."
But Ciampoli said Monday that he "followed the county charter and carried out my duties appropriately" when he approved the $60,000 payment. He said Bishop had done the work and "these people just want to hurt him by saying we're not going to pay him. Their act was repugnant to the NIFA statute and a violation."
In August last year, under former chairman Ronald Stack, the NIFA board rejected contracts Ciampoli sent to them for Bishop and another lobbyist because their work had already been completed.
Bishop filed a claim with the county in March, requesting $60,000 for representing Nassau in 2012. Ciampoli approved settling the claim, noting the county attorney has the right to approve settlements under $100,000. He also argued that the county would have had to pay much more if Bishop took the case to court.
County Executive Edward Mangano terminated Ciampoli as county attorney in early November. Ciampoli, a former elections lawyer for the state Senate, is now back on the Senate payroll as counsel for legislative services.
The NIFA board, under new chairman Jon Kaiman, late last month directed its counsel to determine whether the payment to Bishop was proper. Kaiman said Monday that NIFA will review Marlin's letter and determine "whether there is any other action we should be taking."
A Schneiderman spokeswoman acknowledged receipt of Marlin's request but declined to comment further. Bishop could not be reached.
Marlin, whose NIFA term expires Dec. 31, said he took this action because he was tired of waiting. "In addition, the NIFA staff doesn't have the subpoena power or the manpower to do a proper investigation. The attorney general's office does."