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State seeks documents on Nassau political clubs

GOP Counsel John Ryan, seen in 2005, responding

GOP Counsel John Ryan, seen in 2005, responding on behalf of county Republicans, said the board will provide all information requested by the state Elections Board and any other governmental agency. Credit: Newsday / Dick Yarwood

The chief enforcement officer for the state Board of Elections has requested all documents related to 11 Nassau Republican political clubs, including the committee run by Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker.

The letter to the Nassau elections board from an associate attorney for Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman, obtained by Newsday, focuses on the period since Republican County Executive Edward Mangano took office on Jan. 1, 2010.

It asks for all campaign finance documents for the 11 committees, including contributions, money transfers and expenditures, from that date, through the present.

The clubs include nine that Newsday reported last month had violated election law by not filing campaign finance reports with the state board for as many as nine years: The Massapequa North and South Republican clubs, the Seaford Republican Club, North Bellmore Republican Club, Lakeview Republican Club, Roosevelt Republican Club, Manhasset Republican Club, Floral Park Republican Club and Merrick Republican Club.

Sugarman's office also requested all documents since Jan. 1, 2010, for the Hicksville Republican Club and Hicksville Republican Committee, run by Walker.

Newsday has reported that contributions to the committee skyrocketed after Mangano took office, totaling nearly $800,000 in the first four years. Two-thirds of the 48 companies or principals that contributed at least $3,000 had done business with the county in that period.

Contributors included two Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving executives, who gave a total of $98,500, while the firm received $23.9 million in work, and Kirk Lombardi, whose Bay Shore trucking company, Nassau Suffolk Truck, received a $90,000 contract after superstorm Sandy, gave $4,500. The county comptroller subsequently alleged Lombardi had submitted fraudulent claims but his counsel denied wrongdoing.

VIP Splash Waterways Recovery Group gave nearly $3,000 on the same day its $12 million contract with Nassau was signed and executed. Walker has said he did not solicit the donation.

Sugarman said Friday the Nassau request "is a very new inquiry" and is not related to seven referrals she made to local prosecutors last week involving potential felonies.

"It is what we're saying. We're requesting the information that the county board has about these 11 particular clubs," Sugarman said in an interview. "When we see a story like the one that was in Newsday . . . we start making inquiries. Whether it develops into an investigation or something else, that is determined by an initial inquiry."

Sugarman declined to say why the Hicksville club and committee, which have filed all their disclosure reports, was included.

GOP counsel John Ryan, responding on behalf of county Republicans, said the board will provide all information requested by Sugarman and any other governmental agency.

He had said previously that many of the clubs failed to file with the state because their treasurers were older and unfamiliar with electronic filing, required by the state since 2006."It used to be government by Newsday. Now it's prosecution by Newsday," Ryan complained.

Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, who has filed three complaints with the state BOE alleging improper spending and reporting by the Hicksville committee, said he would "await their determination of whether or not there is any wrongdoing."Sugarman said her office is a "law enforcement investigatory unit" that can conduct criminal investigations and file civil lawsuits requesting fines be imposed.

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