Suffolk’s legislative presiding officer, Democrat DuWayne Gregory, has asked Republican Comptroller John Kennedy to review GOP Elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota’s time sheets because he is taking daytime classes as a part-time Hofstra Law School student while in his full-time county job.
“It is difficult for me to understand how Mr. LaLota can attend law school classes during the day in Hempstead and simultaneously attend to his duties at the board of elections in Yaphank,” Gregory, of Copiague, said in a letter Sept. 7.
In response, LaLota accused Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer of engineering a politically motivated review.
“The public should note the irony of this inquiry — one that is orchestrated by the Master of Corruption Rich Schaffer — the party boss with three full-time jobs, two major conflicts of interest and zero time sheets.” Schaffer is Babyon Town supervisor, party leader and works part time as an attorney for a local plumbers union.
Newsday reported last week that LaLota, a $144,000-a-year elections commissioner, acknowledged he is taking daytime classes as a first-year law student at Hofstra. LaLota vowed to fulfill his requirement to work 70 hours every two weeks at the elections board.
LaLota and Schaffer have feuded over LaLota’s efforts to force a referendum to bring council districts to Babylon Town. Schaffer also launched a battle against LaLota allies in recent Amitvyllle Village elections.
“It sounds like Nick seems to need to check in with a therapist because his paranoia has reached paralyzing heights,” Schaffer said.
Gregory said that after consulting with his deputy, Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), he decided it would be “more appropriate” for Kennedy rather than a legislative committee to review the issue, since Kennedy’s office has done many payroll audits.
A Kennedy spokesman declined to comment.
“This so-called inquiry is why people hate politics,” LaLota said. “If there was a sincere effort to understand my schedule, the legislator would have just called me and then would have understood my job isn’t just from 9 to 5; my 60 employees and I just worked a 20-hour day on primary day.”
LaLota, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a scholarship law student, said he will “happily provide my time sheets and part-time class schedule while continuing to use the GI Bill to attend part-time classes to better myself and my public service.”
In his letter, Gregory asked Kennedy to “review and carefully monitor” LaLota’s time sheets. Gregory noted that LaLota also is an Amityville Village trustee, which “requires him to have meetings during the day,” and has a “private consulting business.” LaLota said his business is “largely defunct.”