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Nassau homeowners who still had mailboxes last week after superstorm Sandy would have found a full-color, four-page mailing from Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano touting his latest “third consecutive no property tax hike budget.”
Two of the pages include photographs of signs that Republican officials say were paid for by the Mangano campaign and distributed by workers from Republican party headquarters. The signs say, "Thank you Ed Mangano for NOT raising taxes."
Is it appropriate for a taxpayer-paid mailing to use material from a political campaign?
Attorney Paul Sabatino, former Suffolk chief deputy county executive and former longtime counsel to the Suffolk legislature, said it’s not illegal.
“In the aftermath of the superstorm, its blatantly political and bad taste,” Sabatino said. “To be illegal you would have to use government resources to implement a political message” such as saying to vote for a political candiate or advocating a political ballot line.
“It would not be fair to say this is using government resources for political purposes,” he said of the mailer. “It’s just bad taste.”
UPDATED at 5:48 p.m.: Mangano aide Brian Nevin did not respond to questions about the costs of the mailings. Regarding the content, Nevin said, "Before County Executive Mangano took office, Nassau government hiked property taxes and turned off communications with residents. For less than the cost of a stamp per household, Ed Mangano continues to communicate with residents without relying on a tax hike."
Nevin also claimed: "The sign isn't the same as the political sign. That's another false claim by political opponents."