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Democrat leader asks politicians to shun Independence Party

Jay Jacobs, Nassau County Democratic party president, speaks

Jay Jacobs, Nassau County Democratic party president, speaks at the Crest Hollow Country Club on April 15, 2013. Credit: Ana Maria Rico

Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs is calling on New York Democrats and Republicans to reject the Independence Party endorsement for their gubernatorial candidates, which would cause the minor party to lose its ballot line.

Jacobs sent letters Tuesday to political leaders and elected officials throughout New York, complaining about the Independence Party's "corrupt" activities and "unwarranted power" in granting cross-endorsements to major party candidates. State Republicans hold their nominating convention in May, while the Democratic convention has yet to be scheduled.

A minor party earns a ballot line if its gubernatorial candidate gets at least 50,000 votes.

Unlike the Conservative, Green or Working Families parties, Jacobs wrote, the Independence Party "stands for nothing, supports virtually no political activity and appears to exist only for the financial benefit" of its "formal and informal leadership."

Jacobs named Nassau Independence Party chairman Rick Bellando, State and Suffolk chairman Frank MacKay and Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius, who employs Bellando and allows his lavish hotel and catering hall to be used for party screenings, functions and mailings.

Melius recently was shot in the head by an unknown gunman in an Oheka parking lot. He is recovering at the Huntington facility.

Bellando said he was aware of Jacobs' letters. "I don't want to get into a fight with him over this," Bellando said. "I guess he's mad at us, I don't know what for . . . I feel we've got to work together. He should stay focused on working for the people. I'm just the little guy. He shouldn't be a bully and take on the little guy."

MacKay said, "This is a continuing tantrum of a spoiled rich brat who inherited a fortune, and nobody cares what Jay Jacobs has to say. He ran his own party into the ground. He despises anyone who is self-made or anyone who comes from a blue-collar background. Nobody is listening to him."

Jacobs, a successful summer- camp operator, said he grew up in a two-bedroom apartment in Queens.

"While I've made everything on my own in the private sector, Frank has continued to make his money on the backs of the taxpayer and political operations," Jacobs said.

Jacobs complained previously that 80 percent of the $183,578 spent by the Nassau Independence party since January 2012 had gone to Oheka, Bellando and MacKay.

As examples of "corrupt activities," Jacobs in his letter cited a call by Melius to former Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale that led to the arrest of a witness against a Melius-backed county executive candidate on an unrelated warrant. Dale subsequently resigned.

Jacobs also noted that Newsday reported that a judge connected to MacKay effectively granted Melius control of a company that produces ignition interlock systems because. Melius said he had helped enact laws requiring the interlock technology.

Jacobs also referred to a report by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Moreland Commission on public corruption that said state Senate Republicans in 2012 transferred $350,000 to the Independence Party, which was mostly spent on negative television ads against Democratic Senate candidates.

State Republican chairman Ed Cox and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office did not return calls for comment. Cuomo, a Democrat, is expected to run for re-election.

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