The political committee run by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's top aide recently paid $8,000 to a Mineola law firm led by former federal prosecutors, new campaign finance records show.
Rob Walker's Hicksville Republican Committee had two $4,000 expenses to LaRusso, Conway & Bartling: one on Feb. 20 and the other on June 26, according to a report filed this week with the state Board of Elections. Both were listed for "professional services."
Walker, Mangano's chief deputy county executive, declined to be specific about the purpose of the payments, saying the firm was simply on retainer for his committee. Neither he nor Mangano have been accused of any wrongdoing.
"It's just to review all of our documents and deal with any issue we can possibly have," Walker said Wednesday.
Joseph Conway, a partner in the firm, declined to comment. Both he and partner Robert LaRusso worked for the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York, and each has extensive knowledge of federal criminal investigations.
The time frame of the payments coincided with a federal investigation into state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam.
Federal prosecutors allege that Dean Skelos, then Senate majority leader, illegally influenced the 2013 awarding of a $12 million county storm-water treatment contract to Arizona-based AbTech Industries, which employed Adam Skelos.
Dean and Adam Skelos have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, extortion and bribery that were filed in May.
The complaint filed in the case refers to Walker and Mangano by their titles and describes conversations Dean Skelos allegedly had with each about AbTech. Newsday in April quoted sources as saying that Mangano had testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Skelos case.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's campaign reported this week that it had paid $100,000 to Morvillo Abromowitz Grand Iason & Anello. The law firm is representing Cuomo in a federal probe of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption. The panel, which was investigating violations of election and campaign-finance laws, was established by Cuomo, who later disbanded it.
"It's certainly not rare," Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group said of using campaign funds to pay attorneys. "It's legal, according to the state Board of Elections, and seems to be accepted -- though it certainly is not accepted by me . . . Campaign dollars should be used for campaigns, period."