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Stephen A. Labate, a Republican running in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission contending his challenger in the upcoming June 24 primary, Grant Lally, violated election rules by touting a false endorsement.
On May 29, Labate’s campaign sent a letter to the FEC raising concerns about a May 28 fundraising email and news release Lally sent out touting Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s endorsement.
Mangano’s spokesman Brian Nevin has said the county executive never issued an endorsement, leading Labate to argue that Lally solicited funds with “fraudulent misrepresentations.”
“The fact that Lally for Congress would fabricate an endorsement from a high ranking, influential elected official, and use that to fraudulently solicit funds from the public appears to be a blatant violation of 11 CFR 110.16.,” Labate campaign manager Jesse Bohman wrote in a letter to FEC officials.
The statute Bohman refers to says: “No person shall (1) Fraudulently misrepresent the person as speaking, writing, or otherwise acting for or on behalf of any candidate or political party or employee or agent thereof for the purpose of soliciting contributions or donations.”
Lally previously said his campaign believed the endorsement was forthcoming and a campaign aide "jumped the gun" in sending out the endorsement, but Mangano's aides contend he was "unaware" of issuing any endorsement in the primary.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin did not return a call and email on Monday and Wednesday seeking comment.
Lally's campaign, provided with a copy of the FEC complaint, did not respond to questions about the complaint.
An FEC spokeswoman said Monday, the agency does not comment on the status of complaints.
On Tuesday, Lally’s campaign announced the endorsement of the State Republican Committee. State GOP Spokesman David Laska confirmed the endorsement.
On Wednesday, various Long Island Republican and Conservative leaders hosted a $150 per person fundraiser at The Milleridge Inn in Jericho for Lally. The host committee included Nassau GOP chairman Joe Mondello and Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay Lavalle.
In 1998, Lally, who previously ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1994 and 1996 against then-Rep. Gary Ackerman, agreed to pay a $280,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for accepting illegal campaign donations during the 1994 election, and falsely reporting them.
Both Lally and Labate are looking to unseat Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) in the November general election.
At 3:14 p.m. Thursday, Lally’s Campaign spokesman Tom Hirth issued an email response describing the FEC complaint as “yet another sophomoric stunt from the bizarre Labate campaign, and has no place in civil society."
"Once again, Mr. Labate is filing false criminal complaints to bolster his absurd campaign. CFR 110.16 prohibits a person from impersonating another candidate or campaign to solicit funds. It has nothing to do with campaign statements regarding the support or endorsements by others. Perhaps before filing yet another obviously false criminal complaint, Mr. Labate might have thought to consult a lawyer?”
An FEC spokeswoman said Thursday she could not comment on the meaning of the provision, noting it would fall on a panel of FEC commissioners tasked with investigating claims to make a final determination.