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Long IslandPolitics

Nassau Democrats release radio ad linking Skelos to Senate Republicans

Nassau Democrats have released a new radio ad that links four county Senate Republicans to former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted earlier this month on federal corruption charges.

The 60-second ad began running on Long Island radio stations Monday and will continue through year’s end. The ad buy, which was first reported by the Daily News, cost less than $25,000, party officials said.

The ad, titled “There’s More,” cites Sens. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) and Jack Martins (R-Mineola). The ad says the lawmakers were supporters of Skelos, even after his indictment and “broke our trust.”

“We thought that Dean Skelos and Senate Republicans stood up for Long Island,” the ad states. “We voted for them, trusted them. Now Skelos stands convicted, guilty on eight counts, and the corruption and shady practices don’t end with him.”

A news report in May said Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas was investigating whether Marcellino improperly billed taxpayers for more than $20,000 in travel expenses from 2010-2013. Marcellino said he followed “all laws and appropriate guidelines.”

Hannon has been criticized for conflicts of interest after reports that he personally invested more than $100,000 in pharmaceutical and health-related companies that fall under the purview of the Senate Health Committee, which he chairs. Hannon said the investments were done by a broker and that he closed the investment account this year.

Martins was heard on wiretap recordings played during the Skelos trial pitching an idea to Skelos about a plan to “take credit” for water quality improvements.

Democrats claim Venditto was nominated to run for the Senate only because his father, John Venditto, is the powerful longtime supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay.

Nassau Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs said the four Republicans are “part and parcel of a culture of corruption here in Nassau County. They look at government as a candy store. And whenever their hunger requires, they help themselves to the candy to satisfy their hunger.”

Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said Democrats were “do-nothing hypocrites” who were playing politics rather than working to clean up Albany.

“The Senate Democrats and their allies have sunk to new lows with an ad that is filled with so many errors and so much misinformation they should be laughed out of the room,” said Reif. “The ad neglects to mention that much of the corruption we have witnessed in Albany was perpetrated by former leaders of their own Senate Democrat conference.”

Jacobs said he expects Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to call for a special election to replace Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat from Manhattan also convicted of corruption charges, for April 19, the date of the New York presidential primary. Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Nassau Dems will meet this weekend to discuss the timeframe for selecting a candidate to run for the seat. Jacobs said he expects to screen the candidates early next month and pick a candidate by mid-January.

Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky of Long Beach is considered the frontrunner while Nassau Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) and Laura Gillen, who ran unsuccessfully for Nassau County Clerk in 2013, have expressed interest.  

In a statement last week, Kaminsky said he was “seriously considering” running for the seat. 

Republicans have criticized Kaminsky and Democrats in the Assembly for electing Silver as speaker even while he was under federal investigation.

Rumored names among Nassau Republicans to run for the seat include Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook), Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Nassau Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) and Denise Ford (R-Long Beach).

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