Former Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman on Thursday rejected a county-hired lawyer's demand to stop criticizing his successor, George Maragos, and to withdraw a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against Maragos and the county.
"I have every right to file such a complaint as a private citizen and will not withdraw it," Weitzman said at a news conference at the Garden City office of his lawyer, Steven Schlesinger.
Weitzman, a Democrat, is challenging Republican Maragos for the job in November.
Last week, Weitzman announced that he had asked the SEC to look at how "Maragos and the administration manipulated county finances to claim that the county ended the year with a 'miraculous' surplus."
He called it a "new low" for Maragos to get a lawyer with taxpayer dollars to threaten his political opposition.
Earlier this week, Andrew Grumet, a Manhattan securities lawyer hired by Nassau County, demanded that Weitzman pull back his SEC complaint and make a formal and public retraction of his "libelous and slanderous allegations."
Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli, who hired Grumet, on Thursday said Weitzman got a failing grade from the public four years ago and now is trying to burn down the house he claims he still wants to serve. "His allegations, while patently false, could harm Nassau financially. We want him to stop his distortions," he said.
The biggest issue in Weitzman's complaint was $88 million in 2012 property tax refunds that Ciampoli got the courts to shift to 2013. That was done, Weitzman said, solely to make the county and the administration look good with a financial surplus for the year.
"No," Ciampoli said. "I knew the county would benefit on the books. But I requested it because forcing the county to pay it immediately would have created all kinds of negative consequences for Nassau and its residents. It was that simple.
"We will be conferring with our outside counsel on what the appropriate next step is. We are not bluffing."