Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said late Thursday that he will require the disclosure of lobbyists with each county contract, something legislative Democrats have pushed for in the wake of an influence scandal involving GOP State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Mangano is drafting an executive order to institute the policy, said spokesman Brian Nevin.
The move comes as the county legislature's Republican majority reviews a Democratic bill that would make such disclosures law, as well as an administration bill to establish a local lobbyist registry.
"Action is needed now before additional contracts are pushed through the legislative process," Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) wrote to Mangano in a letter earlier Thursday to request the order.
County leaders have scrambled to react to allegations that Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) influenced the awarding of a $12 million county contract to an Arizona environmental company that hired his son, Adam.
Dean and Adam Skelos face conspiracy, extortion and bribery charges, with federal authorities alleging that the senator compelled a major real estate developer to have the environmental company, AbTech Industries, steer work to Adam Skelos. Both men have declared their innocence.
Legislators who in 2013 approved the contract with AbTech said they did not know the company had hired Adam Skelos as a consultant. The federal complaint alleges that Adam Skelos didn't register with the state as a lobbyist, as required by law, "even though he lobbied New York State and county officials, including his father, on behalf of" AbTech. Nevin said Mangano would discuss the order requiring lobbyist disclosures with legislative leaders in the coming days.
Shortly after the Skelos allegations were first reported, Mangano submitted a bill to require lobbyists to register annually with the county and report quarterly about the scope of their work. Democrats said it didn't go far enough, and submitted a bill that would require each contract to disclose all lobbyist activity that went into it.
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) has yet to call either bill for a legislative vote, but said Thursday that the majority was actively discussing all options.
"We in the majority have always been proponents of transparent government, and I look forward to working collaboratively with all parties to continue towards that goal," Gonsalves said in a statement.
Also Thursday, Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas' office released a letter sent Monday to every county municipality, requesting their ethics policies as part of a non-criminal review into contracting procedures throughout the county.
The review, Singas wrote, is an effort to "prevent improper influence, corruption and self-dealing" in contract awards.