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Official's fundraiser invite draws criticism

Nassau legislative Democrats are criticizing the head of the county's traffic court for emailing a political fundraising invitation to defense lawyers who contest tickets there.

John Marks, a retired judge and head of the Traffic and Parking Violations Agency, is hosting a fundraising reception on March 11 at Tesoro Ristorante in Westbury for the re-election of County Executive Edward Mangano. The suggested contribution is $125, while "sponsorships" cost $500.

Marks, the former supervising judge of Nassau's Family Court, sent the email Monday to nearly 200 attorneys, according to a copy of the note that Democrats provided to Newsday.

Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) said Marks' actions risk politicizing the traffic court in Hempstead.

"It reads like a quid pro quo: 'Contribute or your client may or may not face further difficulty with the court,' " Wink said.

Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a Manhattan-based good government group, called Marks' use of the attorneys list "highly inappropriate and possibly illegal. You should never use government resources for political purposes."

Marks said he obtained the email list through a Freedom of Information Law request and denied that he misused government resources.

"The level of mudslinging and dirty politics by the Democrats is disgusting," Marks said.

Democratic officials contend Marks may have violated the county charter and state law prohibiting official misconduct.

They cite a section of the charter that states: "No officer or employee of the county shall use the resources of the county in furtherance of his or her business, professional or political interests or activities."

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