News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics
NIFA asks for ethics opinion on county lawyer's mix of roles
Nassau’s financial control board has asked an ethics opinion on whether North Valley Stream attorney Edward Ambrosino has a conflict in wearing so many legal hats: He is a Hempstead Town Councilman; a counsel to the Nassau Industrial Development Agency; “of counsel” to the Ruskin Moscou Faltischek law firm, along with state Senate Majority co-chairman Dean Skelos; “special counsel” for County Executive Edward Mangano; and principal in the Blue Rhino Capital private equity investment firm.
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority held up approving an increase to Ambrosino’s Nassau contract — from $100,000 to $225,000 — until it receives the county ethics board opinion. Chairman Jon Kaiman acknowledged NIFA’s counsel “suggested that would be an appropriate step in light of the various roles that that particular individual plays.”
Ambrosino, who served as majority counsel to the first county legislature, said he is confident he has no conflict.
“Before I took any legal responsibilities with County Executive Mangano or the IDA, I reviewed the statutory materials and I determined, based upon my experience as legislative counsel, there is no conflict of interest,” Ambrosino said. “I am confident the Board of Ethics will agree with my determination of five years ago.”
Ambrosino, who earns $71,000 from Hempstead, said he does not receive a set salary or monthly retainer from the IDA, but is paid per transaction from fees charged to the company involved. He said Ruskin Moscou is not involved with the IDA and it has worked for Nassau on discrete issues, such as an adviser for bus routes when the county transitioned to a private bus service.
IDA executive director Joseph Kearney, a former member of the Hempstead town board, said, “Eddie Ambrosino is brilliant, a brilliant lawyer. We’re lucky to have him...I think Eddie is above reproach.”