Hempstead Town Board members and other elected officials posted their financial disclosures and income sources Wednesday on the town website to comply with an updated ethics code.
The six town board members and Supervisor Laura Gillen posted redacted versions of their financial disclosures, which detail investments and outside income sources, but not campaign contributions. Officials said the aim is to prevent conflicts of interest when the town awards contracts and approves other town business.
The ethics package was passed by a 4-3 vote in September 2017 under former Supervisor Anthony Santino. Hempstead appears to be one of the first towns on Long Island to post financial disclosures online.
Town officials are only posting disclosures of elected officials following a concern of town employees and the town attorney’s office. The information appears on the site's home page.
“As far as I am concerned, the more transparency, the better. The public has a right to know about any potential conflicts of interest,” Republican Majority Leader Erin King Sweeney said.
Financial disclosures must be filed by nearly 200 employees, including all elected officials, department heads and commissioners. Officials said the financial disclosures were due to the town in May.
Gillen issued a memo in August expressing privacy concerns from the deputy town attorney and other employees about posting disclosures online and proposed rescinding the online requirement.
Town Board members on Tuesday responded that elected officials should be held to a higher standard, but that financial disclosures for employees should not be posted online, arguing any “any public benefit would be outweighed by” an invasion of privacy and risk of fraud.
The disclosures were posted Wednesday, two days after Gillen called for more ethics reforms and expanding disclosure requirements to include exempt employees, town attorneys and workers with businesses or relatives who have business before the town board or the Board of Zoning Appeals.
“My proposal would vastly increase transparency and publicly available information, while protecting the legitimate online privacy concerns of hardworking employees,” Gillen said.
Gillen’s disclosure lists her former employment with Uniondale-based Westerman Ball law firm, from which she resigned in November. It also lists her shareholdings with her husband’s film company and unspecified 401k accounts, but does not list her total previous salary or investments.
King Sweeney, who filed her disclosure last year, listed her employment as an aviation attorney and partner with White Plains-based Eckert Seamans and her own business, King Sweeney Strategies LLC. She also listed her prior law firm, multiple 401k accounts, and consulting contracts with several security and airlines, but redacted income earned.