Republican congressional and State Senate candidates Thursday called on Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto to resign after the GOP lawmakers were charged by federal prosecutors with receiving bribes from a businessman.
Others, including top county lawmakers, urged a wait-and-see approach as news of the arrests of two of Nassau’s highest ranking officials sank in among the county’s political class.
State Sen. Jack Martins, who is running for Congress in the vacant 3rd District, Sens. Carl Marcellino and Kemp Hannon, and GOP Senate candidates Christopher McGrath and Elaine Phillips said the resignations would ensure that Nassau can continue to function.
“It is imperative that government services continue unabated,” Martins (R-Old Westbury) said at a news conference in front of Mangano’s Mineola office Thursday — only 19 days before Election Day.
Marcellino (R-Syosset) called it a “sad day” but that “the government must go on.”
Nassau’s Democratic State Senate candidates agreed that Mangano and Venditto should resign but argued that Republicans enabled the corruption.
“It is not enough for their political friends to simply feign outrage on the day of another indictment,” said Adam Haber, a Democrat running for Martins’ seat in the 7th District.
Mangano, his wife, Linda, and Venditto are facing charges including bribery, extortion and honest services fraud for accepting trips, meals and gifts from the businessman in exchange for county contracts and the town guaranteeing $20 million in loans. The businessman was not identified in the 13-count indictment but sources have identified him as Long Island restaurateur Harendra Singh.
Martins said the Nassau Legislature and Oyster Bay Town Council, both controlled by Republicans, should immediately select replacements for Mangano and Venditto. But absent a conviction or guilty plea, they cannot be forced to resign.
A defiant Mangano said he would not step down.
“I’m going to continue to govern,” he said outside the federal courthouse in Central Islip.
If Mangano resigned, Deputy County Executive Rob Walker — under federal investigation in a separate matter — would take over until the legislature picked a replacement, county documents show.
Three of Nassau’s top elected officials each declined to call for Mangano’s removal.
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said “we are alarmed by the allegations, but must allow the legal process to play out.”
Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said only that the arrests showed the need for the county to appoint an independent inspector general for contracting.
And District Attorney Madeline Singas, a Democrat, sidestepped questions about Mangano but urged lawmakers to pass ethics reforms “to drain this cesspool of corruption.”
Two Democrats mulling county executive runs in 2017 said Mangano should resign.
County Comptroller George Maragos said the move would “allow the people’s work to be conducted with unquestionable integrity.” Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said new leadership would “allow Nassau to move forward to focus on its fiscal challenges.”
Oyster Bay spokeswoman Marta Kane said Venditto will address his political future in the coming days but that Leonard Genova, a town attorney and deputy supervisor, would step in if he resigned.
State Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Oyster Bay), the supervisor’s son, said his father’s arrest “is breaking our hearts . . . I am hoping that my dad will devote his full-time energies to resolving these issues.”
With Paul LaRocco and Celeste Hadrick