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Long IslandColumnistsRick Brand

Uncomfortable moment at Suffolk Legislature

Legis. Rob Trotta went after district attorney chief of staff Justin Meyers over a photo Meyers posted on a dating website.

Justin Meyers at a news conference at Suffolk

Justin Meyers at a news conference at Suffolk County police headquarters in Yaphank on July 27, 2017. Photo Credit: James Carbone

In one of the Suffolk Legislature’s more uncomfortable moments, county district attorney chief of staff Justin Meyers took heat last week from GOP Legis. Rob Trotta for using a photo of himself in his official role on the dating website Bumble.

“I take exception that the chief of staff . . . is advertising himself on a dating website in front of the district attorney seal,” said Trotta. “I think it’s very unprofessional.”

In response, Meyers said: “While there is nothing inappropriate about posting a photo from a public event on social media there is something decidedly inappropriate with Rob Trotta’s strange obsession with my personal dating life.”

Trotta said he raised the issue because Meyers, in a caption accompanying the photo, described himself as “crisis communications specialist.”

The issue arose as Meyers lobbied lawmakers to create a higher paying job title of public relations officer for aide Sheila Kelly. Trotta said he had “an obligation” to try to determine the differences in Kelly’s and Meyers’ roles.

Kelly’s salary went up by 17.5 percent to $78,000 when she took the job in January. Some lawmakers, meanwhile, said they had believed Meyers, who got a raise from $143,000 to $189,000 a year, would play the main public relations role and handle administrative duties.

Meyers says he oversees communications and handles many other administrative duties, while Kelly serves as day-to-day spokeswoman.

Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) apologized to Meyers for Trotta’s remarks, but expressed concerns about the new job title for Kelly. “To award someone a $15,000 to $20,000 raise five months into the job, I don’t think anyone can justify that,” said Gregory, noting Suffolk’s budget deficit and efforts to get concessions from unions.

Legislators approved Kelly’s new job title in a 16-2 vote.

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