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Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter has written to both state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman seeking an opinion on whether its legal to merge her office with that of Suffolk comptroller.
Carpenter said she made her request after first writing County Executive Steve Bellone asking him to seek opinions from the state before signing legislation that he has championed that would put a merger proposal on the November ballot. She said the county executive never responded.
In her letters, Carpenter called the proposed merger “an ethical conflict” and “fiscally irresponsible” and asked the two state officials to issue their opinions before July 18, the deadline for Bellone to sign the bill.
“I am deeply concerned that a local law recently passed by the county legislature will undermine the public’s confidence in the integrity of the financial put in place to protect Suffolk County taxpayers,” she said.
Carpenter included in her request two opinions issued 46 years apart — a 1948 state comptroller’s opinion on whether the treasurer could also be county auditor, which found the jobs were “incompatible and the same person may not hold both jobs,” and a 1994 attorney general’s opinion that found it a conflict for a husband and wife to hold positions of county treasurer and deputy auditor.
“I agree with the two positions - that by combining the two offices you are eroding the system of checks and balances that are keystone in the foundation of fiduciary responsibility we owe the taxpayers.”
Carpenter, who a year ago won a court suit against a referendum on technical grounds, added that she now has “no personal interest” because the laws does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2018. Carpenter leaves office at the end of 2017.
The attorney general’s office acknowledged receiving Carpenter’s request, but guidelines on the attorney general website indicate that requests for such opinions should come from a municipal attorney. Mark Johnson, a DiNapoli spokeman, said they have not yet seen the letter, but will review the request once it arrives.