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Long IslandColumnistsRick Brand

John Kennedy delays plans to withhold Suffolk election worker’s pay

The Suffolk County comptroller received a legal opinion that state law may prohibit him from withholding the pay of Marisol Martinez.

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy has put

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy has put off plans to withhold election worker Marisol Martinez's pay over alleged violations of the county nepotism law. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy has put off plans to withhold election worker Marisol Martinez’s pay over alleged violations of the county nepotism law, after the county attorney warned Kennedy may be pre-empted under state election law.

Kennedy said he received a confidential legal opinion from County Attorney Dennis Brown saying the county legislature cannot do anything to keep board personnel from conducting elections, a state function. Brown also told Kennedy he would have to sue to stop or recoup payments.

The $92,000-a-year promotion for Martinez, sister-in-law of Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), to a $138,900-a-year job as Hispanic outreach coordinator was disclosed earlier this month.

Election officials did not initially put forward a required nepotism resolution. The measures allow lawmakers to authorize hiring and promotions of relatives of elected officials and county managers in non-Civil Service jobs.

The elections board also failed get legislative approval when Marisol Martinez first was hired as a $45,994-a-year assistant elections clerk three years ago. Kennedy had said he would withhold that salary until the county legislature votes to authorize Martinez’s hiring and promotion.

The comptroller said he is reviewing Brown’s opinion and in the meantime will delay action.

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