Shalom Maidenbaum is shown at Rosenfeld & Maidenbaum LLP in...

Shalom Maidenbaum is shown at Rosenfeld & Maidenbaum LLP in Cedarhurst in August 2015.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A political action committee backed by law firms that file thousands of property tax challenges each year has donated $256,725 to Republican campaign committees, candidates and elected officials in Nassau County this year, a Newsday analysis of state campaign finance records shows.

Since January, the Committee for Fair Property Taxes has given $151,875 to the Nassau County Republican Committee, $80,000 to the NVS Victory Campaign Fund, which backs local GOP campaigns, and $7,500 to GOP County Executive Bruce Blakeman's campaign fund, according to filings with the state Board of Elections.

The PAC also gave $15,000 this year to the campaign of Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, and has contributed generously to other Democrats including former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in recent years, according to state records.

Total contributions by the committee are significantly higher this year compared with 2021, when the PAC made $131,895 in political contributions — all of it to local or state GOP committees and candidates, including $35,000 to Blakeman’s successful campaign for Nassau County executive against Democrat Laura Curran.

Tax certiorari law firms and their principals provide the bulk of the committee's funding, records show.

The heavy spending by the PAC reflects the sustained influence of tax firms that annually file tens of thousands of tax challenges with Nassau County's Assessment Review Commission.

If the challenges are successful, the firms earn their money by charging a fee — usually up to 50% of what the firm estimates it saved their client by appealing.

If the homeowner loses, the law firm doesn't get paid.

Contesting assessments is a key way Nassau homeowners, who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, attempt to lower their tax payments to school districts, the county and towns.

But over time, settlements of tax challenges perpetuate inequities because more of the overall tax burden shifts to those who don't grieve their assessments or lose their challenges.

Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the legislative minority leader, accused the tax firms of using campaign donations to try to stymie reforms to the county's assessment system.

"From their standpoint it’s in their best interests to make sure the [property tax] roll is inaccurate,” Abrahams told Newsday, referring to the law firms.

“If you have a roll that is accurate, Nassau County residents in an ideal world are all paying their fair share," said Abrahams, whose campaign received a total of $6,500 from the Committee for Fair Property Taxes between 2011 and 2018, according to state records.

"If everyone is paying their fair share, then the need for an outside third party to grieve the property taxes on your behalf is not necessary,” said Abrahams.

Abrahams said contributions from the PAC didn't influence his votes. "It had no bearing, because I actually went against their interests trying to put together a fair plan," he said.

State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) told Newsday: “I feel like this is like a pay for play situation where they feed all the politicians. This way their industry doesn't get impacted. It’s a bad way of doing things.”

While state records show no contributions by the PAC to Thomas since his election in 2018, the committee in 2019 gave $25,000 to the state Senate Democrats' campaign committee.

Amanda Henning Santiago, a spokeswoman for the PAC, said in a statement to Newsday: "The Committee for Fair Property Taxes has only one agenda: protecting Nassau homeowners who have been inaccurately assessed. The organization, and its members, donates to both Republican and Democratic candidates and committees who are committed to protecting taxpayers."

Joseph Cairo, chairman of the Nassau Republican Committee, also defended the PAC.

“Generally speaking, they support the public officials who support taxpayer rights," Cairo said. "They support public officials who they believe in and fight for taxpayers.”

He continued: “They’ve given a lot of money to Democrats as well as to Republicans.”

The tax-challenge firms earn millions of dollars each year in Nassau, and state records show they are a major source of funding for the Committee for Fair Property Taxes.

Tax firms collected $506.5 million in client fees between 2012 and 2019, according a report in December by former Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman's office.

The settlements clients won shifted $1.1 billion in property value onto other property owners who did not win reductions during that period, the audit said.

So far in 2022, the tax firms or their principals have contributed $318,500 to the PAC, state campaign finance reports show.

Major donors to the PAC this year include Fred Perry, a longtime Dix Hills tax attorney who contributed $100,000, and Shalom Maidenbaum, founder and managing member of Maidenbaum Property Tax Reduction Group, LLC in Cedarhurst, who donated $75,000, state campaign finance records show.

The Committee for Fair Property Taxes was incorporated in 2009 during the Nassau County executive race between incumbent Democrat Thomas Suozzi and Republican Edward Mangano, a county legislator from Bethpage who unseated Suozzi. 

The PAC has given $2.1 million to political candidates since 2009, a Newsday analysis of state election board data shows.

The PAC has given 88% of that total to Republican-backed candidates and committees, according to the data.

Among the GOP candidates the PAC has backed is Republican Elaine Phillips, who as Nassau County comptroller is finalizing a report about Curran's reassessment program.

Blakeman is expected to draw heavily from Phillips' recommendations in deciding how to manage the county assessment system.

The PAC contributed $1,000 to Phillips' campaign for comptroller last year. The committee also gave Phillips $5,000 in her successful bid for State Senate in 2016 and $2,500 in 2018, when she lost her bid for a second term.


"Like every elected official you receive campaign contributions, and it absolutely does not impact any decision-making," Phillips told Newsday. "I campaigned to be the independent protector of the taxpayer to bring back trust in government." 

Chris Boyle, a spokesman for Blakeman, said the PAC's contributions would not influence the county executive. 

"The County Executive does not take campaign contributions into consideration with regard to any governmental decision that he makes," Boyle said. "The County Executive is waiting for the Comptroller's review of the reassessment performed by his predecessor which we anticipate receiving in September."

While Hochul is the only Democrat the PAC has supported this year, it has made significant contributions to other Democrats in the past.

In 2018, the PAC gave the Nassau County Democratic Committee $6,500.

In 2019, the PAC contributed $75,000 to the Nassau County Democratic Committee and $15,000 to then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's campaign, state campaign finance reports show. 

The PAC gave $20,000 to Curran's campaign for Nassau County executive in 2017, but never contributed to her after that.

Shortly after taking office in 2018, Curran ordered the first countywide reassessment in a decade.

Mangano had frozen the tax rolls in 2011, and during the freeze, tax firms filed tens of thousands of grievances for residents each year.

County records show nearly 80% of requests for assessment reductions were granted during the freeze, which lasted until reassessment took effect in the 2020-21 tax year.

Curran said reassessment was aimed at reducing inequities and making assessed values set by the county more accurate and thus more resistant to challenges.

Curran froze the rolls again for 2022-23 and 2023-24, calling it a temporary move until the volatile pandemic housing market settled.

Blakeman has not said whether Nassau will update assessments in 2024-25.

With Michael Gormley

A political action committee backed by law firms that file thousands of property tax challenges each year has donated $256,725 to Republican campaign committees, candidates and elected officials in Nassau County this year, a Newsday analysis of state campaign finance records shows.

Since January, the Committee for Fair Property Taxes has given $151,875 to the Nassau County Republican Committee, $80,000 to the NVS Victory Campaign Fund, which backs local GOP campaigns, and $7,500 to GOP County Executive Bruce Blakeman's campaign fund, according to filings with the state Board of Elections.

The PAC also gave $15,000 this year to the campaign of Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, and has contributed generously to other Democrats including former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in recent years, according to state records.

Total contributions by the committee are significantly higher this year compared with 2021, when the PAC made $131,895 in political contributions — all of it to local or state GOP committees and candidates, including $35,000 to Blakeman’s successful campaign for Nassau County executive against Democrat Laura Curran.

Tax certiorari law firms and their principals provide the bulk of the committee's funding, records show.

The heavy spending by the PAC reflects the sustained influence of tax firms that annually file tens of thousands of tax challenges with Nassau County's Assessment Review Commission.

If the challenges are successful, the firms earn their money by charging a fee — usually up to 50% of what the firm estimates it saved their client by appealing.

If the homeowner loses, the law firm doesn't get paid.

Contesting assessments is a key way Nassau homeowners, who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, attempt to lower their tax payments to school districts, the county and towns.

But over time, settlements of tax challenges perpetuate inequities because more of the overall tax burden shifts to those who don't grieve their assessments or lose their challenges.

Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the legislative minority leader, accused the tax firms of using campaign donations to try to stymie reforms to the county's assessment system.

"From their standpoint it’s in their best interests to make sure the [property tax] roll is inaccurate,” Abrahams told Newsday, referring to the law firms.

“If you have a roll that is accurate, Nassau County residents in an ideal world are all paying their fair share," said Abrahams, whose campaign received a total of $6,500 from the Committee for Fair Property Taxes between 2011 and 2018, according to state records.

"If everyone is paying their fair share, then the need for an outside third party to grieve the property taxes on your behalf is not necessary,” said Abrahams.

Abrahams said contributions from the PAC didn't influence his votes. "It had no bearing, because I actually went against their interests trying to put together a fair plan," he said.

State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) told Newsday: “I feel like this is like a pay for play situation where they feed all the politicians. This way their industry doesn't get impacted. It’s a bad way of doing things.”

While state records show no contributions by the PAC to Thomas since his election in 2018, the committee in 2019 gave $25,000 to the state Senate Democrats' campaign committee.

Amanda Henning Santiago, a spokeswoman for the PAC, said in a statement to Newsday: "The Committee for Fair Property Taxes has only one agenda: protecting Nassau homeowners who have been inaccurately assessed. The organization, and its members, donates to both Republican and Democratic candidates and committees who are committed to protecting taxpayers."

Joseph Cairo, chairman of the Nassau Republican Committee, also defended the PAC.

“Generally speaking, they support the public officials who support taxpayer rights," Cairo said. "They support public officials who they believe in and fight for taxpayers.”

He continued: “They’ve given a lot of money to Democrats as well as to Republicans.”

The tax-challenge firms earn millions of dollars each year in Nassau, and state records show they are a major source of funding for the Committee for Fair Property Taxes.

Tax firms collected $506.5 million in client fees between 2012 and 2019, according a report in December by former Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman's office.

The settlements clients won shifted $1.1 billion in property value onto other property owners who did not win reductions during that period, the audit said.

So far in 2022, the tax firms or their principals have contributed $318,500 to the PAC, state campaign finance reports show.

Major donors to the PAC this year include Fred Perry, a longtime Dix Hills tax attorney who contributed $100,000, and Shalom Maidenbaum, founder and managing member of Maidenbaum Property Tax Reduction Group, LLC in Cedarhurst, who donated $75,000, state campaign finance records show.

The Committee for Fair Property Taxes was incorporated in 2009 during the Nassau County executive race between incumbent Democrat Thomas Suozzi and Republican Edward Mangano, a county legislator from Bethpage who unseated Suozzi. 

The PAC has given $2.1 million to political candidates since 2009, a Newsday analysis of state election board data shows.

The PAC has given 88% of that total to Republican-backed candidates and committees, according to the data.

Among the GOP candidates the PAC has backed is Republican Elaine Phillips, who as Nassau County comptroller is finalizing a report about Curran's reassessment program.

Blakeman is expected to draw heavily from Phillips' recommendations in deciding how to manage the county assessment system.

The PAC contributed $1,000 to Phillips' campaign for comptroller last year. The committee also gave Phillips $5,000 in her successful bid for State Senate in 2016 and $2,500 in 2018, when she lost her bid for a second term.


"Like every elected official you receive campaign contributions, and it absolutely does not impact any decision-making," Phillips told Newsday. "I campaigned to be the independent protector of the taxpayer to bring back trust in government." 

Chris Boyle, a spokesman for Blakeman, said the PAC's contributions would not influence the county executive. 

"The County Executive does not take campaign contributions into consideration with regard to any governmental decision that he makes," Boyle said. "The County Executive is waiting for the Comptroller's review of the reassessment performed by his predecessor which we anticipate receiving in September."

While Hochul is the only Democrat the PAC has supported this year, it has made significant contributions to other Democrats in the past.

In 2018, the PAC gave the Nassau County Democratic Committee $6,500.

In 2019, the PAC contributed $75,000 to the Nassau County Democratic Committee and $15,000 to then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's campaign, state campaign finance reports show. 

The PAC gave $20,000 to Curran's campaign for Nassau County executive in 2017, but never contributed to her after that.

Shortly after taking office in 2018, Curran ordered the first countywide reassessment in a decade.

Mangano had frozen the tax rolls in 2011, and during the freeze, tax firms filed tens of thousands of grievances for residents each year.

County records show nearly 80% of requests for assessment reductions were granted during the freeze, which lasted until reassessment took effect in the 2020-21 tax year.

Curran said reassessment was aimed at reducing inequities and making assessed values set by the county more accurate and thus more resistant to challenges.

Curran froze the rolls again for 2022-23 and 2023-24, calling it a temporary move until the volatile pandemic housing market settled.

Blakeman has not said whether Nassau will update assessments in 2024-25.

With Michael Gormley

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