Suffolk DA subpoenas financial disclosure law records
Detectives from the Suffolk County district attorney's government corruption bureau Monday subpoenaed records related to county financial disclosure law to determine whether anyone in county government filed a form different from the one required by law, Suffolk County Legislative Clerk Tim Laube said.
The subpoena comes after Newsday made inquiries last week about why Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who is considering a run for governor on a third-party line, has filed a different financial disclosure form than the one mandated by county law. Last month, roughly 650 elected and appointed employees filed that county form, which is more extensive, officials said.
Records obtained by Newsday show that the county Ethics Commission has allowed Levy to file a state disclosure form since 2006. As a result, Levy has not disclosed partners he had in real estate holdings in Eastport and Albany, bank account balances or the actual market values of his properties. By contrast, the county form requires officials to list specific values, such as market value of real estate holdings, stocks and bonds, as well as partners, among other items. It also requires officials to list cash in bank accounts and credit card debt of more than $1,000.
A spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota declined to comment about the subpoena.
Last week Levy fell short in his bid to secure a spot on the Republican primary ballot for governor.
In a statement, Levy said: "I am outraged at the suggestion that there is something nefarious in following the decision of the Ethics director that the state form covered any requirement for the county. As a member of the NY State Pine Barrens Commission, I am required to fill out the state form. I had heard that other employees had filled out just the state form, and that it had sufficed. I therefore inquired whether it was necessary for me to fill out a second form for the county and was informed in writing by the Ethics director that the filing of the state form complied with county requirements.
"This is not a case where an official has failed to fill out a disclosure form. It is a question as to whether the state form would suffice, and the Ethics director has ruled it does."
Ethics Commission director Alfred Lama did not return calls Monday but said in an earlier interview that the state form was sufficient.
But county legislative counsel George Nolan said the law was clear. "Obviously, the county executive should submit the same form all the other . . . [elected officials] do," he said.
Legis. William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), who is presiding officer of the county Legislature, said, "He's the chief executive of the county. If he doesn't adhere to our local law, then who should?"
Thomas Nolan, who is Levy's appointee to the three-member Ethics Commission, initially said he did not know Levy filed a different form until contacted by a reporter. Later, in an interview, he said the commission allowed it because, "Based on the practice that's been going back several years, it was accepted."
Nolan said that one other person in county government was allowed to file the state form over the county form. He would not name that person.
Levy appoints one member of the commission; Lindsay said Levy recommended the other two, and they were approved by the Legislature.
"I just am flabbergasted," said county Treasurer Angie Carpenter, a Republican. "It was my understanding, or my assumption, that every elected official in Suffolk County filled out the same form."