Democratic Nassau County Executive candidate Laura Curran detailed plans Thursday to reform the campaign finance system, including barring county appointees from contributing to her campaign.
At a news conference outside her home in Baldwin, Curran, a second-term legislator, said her proposals would limit the influence of money in politics and end a “pay-to-play” culture in county government.
“The current campaign finance system creates the potential for corruption and abuse of power, which has deteriorated trust in our government,” said Curran, one of three Democrats vying for the county executive nomination in September.
Curran’s plan would prohibit all appointees of her administration from contributing to or raising money for her campaign — a move she could formalize through an executive order.
She said she would work with the GOP-controlled Nassau County Legislature to create a database of county contractors and their principals and then limit the amount vendors could contribute to political campaigns. Curran would cap vendor contributions to candidates for countywide office at $1,000, and $500 for county legislators.
“I will not allow there to be one shred of doubt by any Nassau taxpayer that my political appointees and employees are prioritizing the needs of donors and not the public,” Curran said.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano commissioned a panel of experts in 2015 to reform the county’s procurement system following the arrest of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on charges related, in part, to the awarding of a $12 million county contract.
That panel recommended legislation to cap political donations by county vendors. After initially supporting the proposal, Mangano in late 2015 backed away from the idea. County Attorney Carnell Foskey argued that “campaign finance laws are in the jurisdiction of the New York State Legislature.”
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said at the time that Republicans had “serious constitutional and First Amendment concerns” about limiting contractor contributions. The legislature later approved a bill that simply required contractors to disclose their political donations.
Gonsalves spokesman Matthew Fernando Thursday said Curran’s plan “violates state and federal law.” Fernando criticized Curran’s proposal as “hypocritical” because as a legislative and county executive candidate she accepted contributions from county employees, appointees, labor unions and contractors.
Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) and County Comptroller George Maragos also are vying for the Democratic nomination.
Former State Sen. Jack Martins is the Republican Party candidate.