Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and new Suffolk County Executive...

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and new Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone each described daunting challenges in dealing with deficits estimated at $310 million in Nassau and $100 million in Suffolk. (Jan. 13, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Democrats have asked New York's inspector general to investigate whether County Executive Edward Mangano misused the county's emergency phone system when he made automated calls last month promoting his precinct realignment plan.

Peter Clines, counsel for the nine Democratic county legislators, wrote Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott this week saying lawmakers had information that Mangano may have used the county's emergency system. Clines said it is his "understanding" that the system is funded "in whole or part" with federal and state homeland security money.

If so, "the robo calls constituted a clear misuse of governmental resources paid for by government grant funding," Clines wrote. "The messages in question plainly crossed the line from legitimate informational public service announcements into political advocacy at public expense."

Scott's office did not return a call. Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin accused Democrats of "engaging in a political smear campaign to stop the county executive from speaking directly with residents." He said federal funds were not used and that Mangano intended to sue "for these slanderous and libelous accusations."

Mangano, a Republican, and Police Commissioner Thomas Dale made separate automated calls last month about plans to turn four of Nassau's eight precincts into community policing centers. The GOP-controlled legislature last week passed the precinct plan.

Comptroller George Maragos is reviewing the use of the phone system and mailers sent by legislators about the precinct plan "for appropriate use of public funds," a spokesman said. Spokesmen for lawmakers of both parties defended the mailings as important constituent communication.

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