Nassau Democratic legislators filed a formal complaint with the state this week, alleging that the Nassau Industrial Development Agency illegally paid for "campaign-style" commercials promoting County Executive Edward Mangano in his re-election bid.
The complaint cites an IDA television commercial that features principals of several companies saying they moved to Nassau or expanded "thanks to the Nassau IDA and County Executive Ed Mangano." The commercial also displays the phone number of the IDA and "County Executive Edward Mangano" on its closing shot. Besides airing on major broadcast channels, the commercial had been posted on Republican Mangano's campaign website this summer.
Although IDA board members are appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the county legislature, the agency is independent of county government and regulated by the state. The IDA's purpose is to retain and attract business by offering breaks on property taxes, sales taxes and the mortgage recording tax. Its funding comes from fees charged to the companies it assists.
"Far from acting independently in the interests of NIDA's mission and the Nassau County public, in our view the board members have acted as a political arm of Mr. Mangano's campaign," said the Democrats' nine-page complaint to the director of New York's Authorities Budget Office on Monday, with a request that it be forwarded to the state attorney general. It asks for the IDA board to be reprimanded and removed.
Mangano referred questions to the IDA, while Joseph Kearney, IDA executive director, declined to say much. "If they decide to act on it," he said, "then we'll deal with it."
David Kidera, director of the Authorities Budget office, Tuesday said he had received the complaint but could not say whether a full investigation would follow.
In August, the IDA board unanimously approved boosting its marketing budget to $1.2 million, an increase of $516,000. Kearney said then, "We want to keep the momentum going."
He also said at the time the TV spots were not intended to aid Mangano's re-election campaign.