NRCC seeks documents relating to DA Rice

This Nov. 16, 2012 photos shows Nassau County This Nov. 16, 2012 photos shows Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. On Thursday, Rice said 17 people have been charged with stealing a total of about $270,000 in unemployment benefits. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Republicans aren’t waiting for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice to decide whether she’s running for Congress to begin their opposition research.

The National Republican Congressional Committee submitted a public records request to the DA’s office on Friday, seeking a wide range of documents -- including correspondence relating to the recent political influence investigation that prompted the resignation of Police Commissioner Thomas Dale.

Rice has emerged as the leading Democratic candidate to replace Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), who announced Wednesday that she wouldn’t seek a 10th term. While the district attorney has yet to commit to a run, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said that Rice is “very seriously” considering a bid, something that Rice's people confirmed.

The NRCC request, made under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, casts a wide net. It asks for all DA’s office expenditures since Rice took over in 2006; the office’s parole recommendations; records of any county vehicles assigned to Rice; her expense reports and her emails, including any to the DCCC.

But the most specific request pertains to Rice’s probe of the Randy White case. The NRCC seeks "any and all written correspondence" by Rice's office pertaining the investigation, from October 1, 2013 through present.

White had testified last October that former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, who was attempting to wage a third-party bid for county executive (a bid Democrats said was meant to siphon votes from their candidate), had illegally paid him for each signature he had collected.

Shortly after that testimony, someone close Hardwick’s campaign called Dale to request a perjury charge against White. That charge was never filed, but Dale ordered White's arrest on an unrelated warrant. While in police custody, an off-duty police sergeant handed White a subpoena requiring him to return to court.

Rice is continuing to investigate the subpoena, but in a December letter that detailed her initial findings, she indicated that she found no criminal wrongdoing on behalf of Dale or County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican.

Nassau Democrats have criticized those findings, saying, especially, that Rice should have charged Dale with witness tampering. Rice's office has responded by calling the criticisms "reckless."

Eric Phillips, a Rice political spokesman, declined to comment on the NRCC records request. Shams Tarek, a spokesman for the DA’s office, also declined to comment.

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