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Laura Curran wants online posting of financial disclosures

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced a bill

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced a bill in the county legislature, requiring that financial disclosure forms for all county elected officials be posted online, on Monday in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Financial disclosure forms filed by Nassau County elected officials would be available online for the first time under legislation announced Monday by County Executive Laura Curran.

Curran said she planned to introduce a bill to require the county Board of Ethics to post online the disclosure forms of all county elected officials, including the 19 county legislators, the county executive, district attorney, comptroller and clerk.

“We know our residents deserve this because for too long, we’ve had politicians get into public service … who are looking more to do well for themselves than to do good for the people that they represent,” Curran, a Democrat, said at a news conference in Mineola.

Under the measure, Nassau County would join Hempstead Town and New York State in making elected officials' disclosures available online for review.

About 700 Nassau officials, including department heads and others in policymaking positions, are required to submit financial disclosure forms annually to prevent conflicts of interest, abuses of power and self-dealing, Curran said. The forms include details about personal and family financial interests, income, debt, gifts and interests in county contracts.

Currently, residents can only access financial disclosure forms by filing a public records request under the Freedom of Information Law. 

In Suffolk, disclosure forms are not available online and can be accessed only through a FOIL request. 

Curran announced in March that employees would be required to submit their disclosure forms electronically.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas has said the county's paper disclosure forms largely were useless in flagging conflicts of interest. Filers could leave out important information or have illegible handwriting, and "those seeking to avoid disclosure could do so with impunity," Singas has said.

The electronic forms ensure all required fields are filled out, officials said.

Christopher Boyle, spokesman for the legislature's Republican majority, questioned whether Curran's bill would make the disclosure forms easier for the public to understand.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said GOP lawmakers will review the legislation and seek to expand it to cover deputy county executives, commissioners, the county assessor and the chair of the Assessment Review Commission.

"We will continue to do everything in our power to protect Nassau County Taxpayers, and bring real transparency to government," Nicolello said in a statement.

The disclosure forms of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano were an issue in his retrial this year on federal corruption charges.

Prosecutors alleged that Mangano took bribes from restaurateur Harendra Singh but never listed the items he was given on his financial disclosure forms. Mangano's defense team argued that the items were personal gifts that did not need to be publicly reported.

Mangano and his wife, Linda, were convicted of federal corruption charges in March. They are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 3.

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