Kathleen Walsh files complaint with elections board

Brookhaven Supervisor Kathleen Walsh speaks during a press Brookhaven Supervisor Kathleen Walsh speaks during a press conference. (Nov. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

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Brookhaven Councilwoman Kathleen Walsh has filed a complaint with the state Board of Elections over a "shadow committee" that attacked her in mailings during a March town highway superintendent race but never disclosed raising or spending any money.

In a complaint filed last week, Walsh accuses town Republicans including Jesse Garcia, Brookhaven GOP chairman, of breaking state law by using the "Friends of Brookhaven Highway" campaign committee for mailings, phone calls and emails at the same time the committee reported in filings there was "no activity" during the race.

"Expenditures were never reported on the Friends of Brookhaven Highway's campaign finance filings as required," the complaint states. It says this was done to conceal campaign activities. It says that to "conceal" the identity of people funding campaign activities, some contributions "were never reported."

Walsh said the attacks were aimed at Democratic voters and emphasized that she was a Republican. One labeled her "Brookhaven Republican woman of the year," while another criticized her for being a "pro-gun advocate" and an NRA supporter.

"We have to have transparency," said Walsh, a former Republican who lost a March 5 highway election running on the Democratic line and now is seeking re-election with Democratic support. "How could this kind of campaign have been run without accountability?"

Walsh also sent her complaint to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the state Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.

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Garcia, Brookhaven Republican chairman, immediately after the highway election denied any knowledge of the committee or its actions. However, he said in an interview this week that he created the committee months before the highway superintendent election was called to oppose a possible referendum to make the elected highway job an appointed post. The proposal later stalled.

Garcia said he used the "Friends" name for some mailings in the highway race but that all money spent was listed in town GOP campaign finance filings. A Newsday review shows the filings do not provide details about specific mailings.

"This is nothing more than a desperate act by a career politician," Garcia said of Walsh's complaint. "She is just trying to game the political system for her own personal benefit."

A party source said Garcia used the "Friends" name in mailings aimed at Democrats that criticized Walsh for positions held by many Republicans. The GOP spent $3,500 to $4,000 in efforts that used the "Friends" name, a party source said.

Walsh said her complaint has nothing to do with her current campaign and that it took her until now to file it because it took time to collect the data for her case.

"I felt I just had to put the ball in motion," she said. "If something is being done that is not appropriate, then shame on me if I do not follow through."

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