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Financial disclosure law proposed in response to 'scandal'

The Malibu Beach Club is owned by the

The Malibu Beach Club is owned by the Town of Hempstead. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

State Sen. Anna Kaplan is drafting legislation requiring applicants for municipal contracts to disclose financial ties to political party leaders in response to an "ongoing scandal" in the Town of Hempstead, according to a news release.

Kaplan (D-Great Neck) announced the planned legislation hours after Newsday published a report Friday revealing that a Hempstead Town contractor paid Joseph Cairo, chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee, and Cairo's son more than $1 million over 10 years for work related to the town-owned beach club run by the contractor.

"Long Island has been rocked by so many scandals in recent years involving government contractors and their inappropriate relationships to people in power," Kaplan said in a statement. "We need to shine a strong light on these relationships so that the people in our communities can begin to have faith in their governments again."

The legislation would require applicants for local government contracts in municipalities statewide to disclose financial relationships to local political party leaders or their immediate family members. Kaplan said Sunday she will introduce the bill in the state Senate this year. 

Kaplan said she was prompted to draft the legislation by the revelations about Cairo's relationship to the contractor, Butch Yamali. Yamali is chief executive of the Freeport-based Dover Gourmet Corp., which Hempstead contracts to operate Malibu Beach Park in Lido Beach.

Newsday has also reported that town officials extended Yamali's contract to run Malibu in April although he had not paid the town rent on the complex in seven months. Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen decried the extension as a "sweetheart deal." The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York subpoenaed the town for records on Dover, and one of the town officials who signed the extension retired.

Yamali has dismissed Gillen's denunciations as political grandstanding and asked a state court to confirm the contract was "lawfully and validly extended.” The litigation is ongoing. He said he has not paid rent because the town owed him for capital improvements he has carried out at Malibu, and that town officials instructed him not to pay.

Yamali said Monday he disclosed his financial ties to Cairo in writing when he bid for the Malibu contract in 2007.

Kaplan said she was also prompted to put forward the legislation by revelations about the relationship between officials in the Town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County with Harendra Singh, a former Oyster Bay concessionaire who pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion in 2016.

"We want to make sure that our residents know ... how these contracts are really given out," she said. "We really do owe our residents as much transparency as possible."

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