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Singas campaign goes to court over Murray disclosure forms

Republican Kate Murray (left) and Democrat Madeline Singas

Republican Kate Murray (left) and Democrat Madeline Singas (right) are battling it out in this year's Nassau County District Attorney's race. Photo Credit: Uli Seit / Steve Pfost

Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas' campaign has gone to court to force Hempstead Town to turn over copies of financial disclosures filed by Supervisor Kate Murray, in which the Republican candidate for district attorney allegedly acknowledges that she has not practiced law for at least five years.

The Singas campaign Monday served an order to show cause on town officials, demanding they explain why they will not provide copies of the annual disclosure statements. The parties are scheduled to appear in court Sept. 2 before Supreme Court Justice Dana Winslow, who signed the order.

Adam Herbsman, a consultant for Singas, who is the Democratic Party's nominee for district attorney, said in his complaint that the Republican-controlled town allowed him to view the disclosures but refused to make copies or allow him to make copies of the statements filed by Murray, Town Board member Anthony Santino and Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin.

Santino is running for town supervisor this fall, while Clavin is seeking re-election. Singas faces a primary challenge from lawyer Michael Scotto.

Herbsman argues, "The records sought are of significant interest to the general public, including because they disclose . . . that Kate Murray -- who is seeking to head the largest government legal office in the County -- was not practicing law when she completed the forms in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014." Singas campaign workers say the forms were filled out by hand and signed by Murray.

Herbsman included an email from Chief Deputy Town Attorney Charles Kovit, citing a 1997 opinion from Robert Freeman, director of the state's Committee on Open Government, which says copies need not be made of financial disclosures. The town also provided Newsday with a copy of 1992 state codes and regulations, which say duplication is not allowed.

But Freeman Monday said his 1997 opinion applied only to state agencies, and the state regulations have since changed. He said local governments are subject to the Freedom of Information Law, which requires copies be made upon payment of an appropriate fee.

Freeman and Herbsman referred to a 2006 Nassau Supreme Court decision in an Oyster Bay case that directed municipalities to provide copies. Since then, Oyster Bay, Nassau County and North Hempstead provide copies of officials' annual financial disclosures.

Hempstead Town spokesman Michael Deery said, "The district attorney is welcome to come in and inspect the financial disclosure anytime she'd like as we have already offered. She has refused."

Singas campaign spokesman Isaac Goldberg said, "No one understands how unqualified Kate Murray is to be district attorney more than Kate Murray herself, which is why she's trying to hide her own admission that she hasn't practiced law in nearly two decades and has never prosecuted a single criminal case."


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