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Long IslandPolitics

Hempstead identifies ethics panelists after prod

After a fiscally conservative good government group filed a formal request for the identity of the three members of Hempstead’s ethics board, the town released their names Friday.

Town spokesman Michael Deery said the board consists of Charles Heine, a deputy town attorney; Phillip Marino, a former deputy town attorney; and John Ryan, the Nassau GOP’s longtime attorney who represents other government agencies, including Hempstead’s Industrial Development Agency.

Reclaim New York, a nonpartisan group chaired by the daughter of Long Island billionaire Robert Mercer, had submitted a Freedom of Information request the day before, seeking the names and appointment dates of the ethics board members after town Supervisor Anthony Santino and Town Attorney Joe Ra refused to identify them at last week’s town board meeting.

“Public officials who keep the board of ethics anonymous can’t claim with a straight face that they’re pursuing transparency and open government,” Reclaim New York Executive Director Brandon Muir said in a news release. “You can’t get open, honest government from the closed, dishonest process that produced this phony ethics reform.”

Santino repeatedly said at the town board meeting, “If you have nothing to hide, there should be no fear of disclosure” in response to council members who objected to his new ethics plan. That plan, passed by a 4-3 vote, requires elected officials to disclose all business clients if they want to exceed a new $125,000 outside income cap — a measure that critics say will stop successful professionals from seeking office.

Deery said the ethics board members “have been a matter of public record,” but he did not disclose their appointment dates. He said he expected new members to be named under Santino’s adopted ethics legislation, which prohibits town employees from serving on the ethics board.

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