The public benefit corporation that runs the Nassau University Medical Center issued a news release this week endorsing Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray for Nassau district attorney.
After both Republicans and Democrats complained about partisan politics by the tax-exempt institution that has been financed for years with public money, the Nassau Health Care Corporation known as NuHealth pulled the release from its website and posted a retraction.
It said the news release -- issued under the names of NUMC president Victor Politi and board chairman Michael Mirotznik -- "was not authorized by NUMC, was issued in error and its contents were not the opinion of NUMC but rather was the opinion of a board member in his individual capacity."
NUMC spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg did not respond to a request for an explanation about how the how the posting occurred.
The release on Tuesday announced that NUMC board member Warren Zysman had joined with Murray in calling for more police asset forfeiture money to be spent on preventing drug abuse. Fighting heroin abuse has been a major issue for Murray and acting District Attorney Madeline Singas, a Democrat seeking election to the permanent position next Tuesday.
The next three paragraphs of the five-paragraph NUMC release were lifted verbatim from an Oct. 21 Murray campaign news release. It included a photograph of Zysman behind a lectern covered with a placard proclaiming, "KATE MURRAY for DISTRICT ATTORNEY."
The last line of the release quotes Zysman: "The war on heroin demands a tough district attorney to put together a plan to turn the tide on heroin. Kate Murray is the person with the vision and agenda to put dealers behind bars and help those who have fallen prey to addiction."
Singas campaign spokesman Isaac Goldberg said, "We know Kate Murray is using government staff to run her campaign and taxpayer-funded political mail to promote herself, but taking resources away from a public hospital to advance her political career hits a new low."
Zysman did not respond to a request for comment. Murray's campaign declined to comment.
NuHealth's Twitter account has tweeted and retweeted about Murray's anti-heroin campaign and Zysman's appearances with her. But none had specifically endorsed Murray.
Nassau County Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), who was also in the legislature when Nassau sold its only public hospital to the newly created public benefit corporation in 1999, said, "I have never heard of such a thing and I find it totally unacceptable, no matter who the candidate is."
Paul Sabatino, a Republican who served as Suffolk legislative counsel and as chief deputy to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, said such partisan activity violates the New York State Constitution, which bars state resources from being used for private purposes.
"Public benefit corporations were created under state law for the purpose of operating some sort of public improvement for the benefit of the state. Clearly a political endorsement of a candidate is of no benefit to the state," he said."A general principal is you can't use public monies for political activities in any shape or form. Endorsing anybody is the most blatant obvious political activity you can engage in."