Nassau legislative Democrats pressed unsuccessfully Monday for a moratorium on approval of county contracts in the wake of State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos' arrest on federal corruption charges.
At the legislature's Rules Committee in Mineola on Monday, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) told legislators it would be "reckless" for the county to continue voting on contracts, given the Skelos case.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and the FBI alleged that Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) extorted a real estate company to make campaign contributions to Republicans and finance the hiring of his son, Adam, through an Arizona-based environmental company.
"It will be unfortunate and sad in light of what we know from last week and in light of what we've heard in the last few hours for us to vote on contracts," Abrahams said.
In a heated exchange lasting 10 minutes, Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) told Abrahams that the contract process "has been approved by the legislature for God knows how many years," and "it's not in our best interest to shut down government."
The Rules Committee nonetheless passed a series of contracts on 4-3 party-line votes.
Minority Democrats last month proposed legislation to require the disclosure "of relationships and communications between consultants and lobbyists, County employees and elected officials."
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, also has proposed legislation to make lobbyists for companies seeking contracts register with the county.
Democrats and Republicans on the committee have said they were unaware of Adam Skelos' involvement with the environmental company when they approved a county contract with the firm in 2013.
The federal complaint against Skelos and his son said Dean Skelos pressured Mangano about the storm-water contract and the county's delay in paying the environmental firm.
A spokesman for Mangano declined to comment directly about the Skelos charges, but has said Mangano wasn't a target of the federal investigation.
With neither of the disclosure bills scheduled for discussion at Monday's committee meetings, Abrahams said Democrats believed a moratorium was needed until new disclosure legislation could be agreed upon.