Majority Republicans in the Nassau County Legislature plan to introduce legislation Monday to bar individuals convicted of felonies involving public corruption from running for county office or holding a county-appointed board or commission seat.
The bill would disqualify anyone convicted of bribery; embezzlement of public money; extortion or theft; perjury; fraud; tax evasion; or conspiracy to commit any of those crimes, from holding public office.
“When a person steals, lies or commits fraud they forfeit any opportunity [of] holding a position of trust in Nassau County,” said Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow).
The legislation comes as Nassau Republicans on the county and town levels are trying to recover from recent corruption indictments.
In October, County Executive Edward Mangano and then-Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto were charged with soliciting bribes and kickbacks from Bethpage restaurateur Harendra Singh. Mangano, his wife, Linda, who was also charged in the case, and Venditto all pleaded not guilty.
Former Oyster Bay Planning and Development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion, and Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino pleaded not guilty March 31 to federal tax evasion and wire fraud charges. The GOP bill would affect candidates for countywide and legislative posts, but exclude town, city or state elections.
Under state law, individuals convicted of a felony must get a waiver from the courts, known as a “certificate of good conduct,” to run for public office. The GOP’s proposed law would prevent individuals from using that waiver to run for office in Nassau.
Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) called the GOP bill a “no-brainer” and said he expects his seven-member caucus to support the measure.
But Abrahams said the bill “does not go far enough” to prevent public corruption. Democrats continue to support the hiring of an independent inspector general to oversee county contracts. Republicans say the position is unnecessary because the county’s commissioner of investigations oversees contracts.
“The GOP majority is trying to sell the public on a bill that deals with corruption after the fact,” Abrahams said. “But an independent inspector general will fix the problems before they happen.”
Mangano’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the bill.