The enforcement attorney for the state Board of Elections accused the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature of 10 counts of failing to file campaign-finance disclosure reports and recommended fines of up to $28,000.
Risa Sugarman, the state’s newly appointed elections-law counsel, outlined her allegations against Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) in a report on Dec. 23 to an elections board hearing officer. The hearing officer will review the findings and decide whether to fine Gonsalves.
In her report, which was first posted online by the Albany Times Union, Sugarman accused Gonsalves of eight “enforceable instances” of failing to file financial disclosure reports from 2006 to 2015, with each instance carrying a $1,000 penalty. Sugarman said Gonsalves failed to report in a timely fashion “on at least 34 occasions.”
Sugarman also issued two other findings of failure to “file three or more times within a given election cycle.” Each carries a $10,000 penalty.
Sugarman noted that her office and Gonsalves discussed a possible settlement, but “the parties were unable to come to a mutually agreeable resolution.”
Gonsalves spokesman Frank Moroney said Monday night that the “entire matter is under review” by the campaign committee’s legal counsel. “However, the committee is in full compliance with state election law,” he added.
Newsday reported in February that Gonsalves violated state election laws at least 33 times over nine years by failing to disclose political donors and campaign expenses involving Friends for Norma Gonsalves, a previously unregistered campaign committee that she controls.
Gonsalves initially told Newsday she had been filing handwritten, paper reports with the Nassau County Board of Elections and blamed that agency for failing to send them to the state. She later blamed her treasurer for not filing the reports.
Subsequently, a spokesman said Gonsalves had corrected the mistake and was in full compliance with the law.
“The designation of a committee does not relieve the candidate or treasurer of their duty to ensure proper and timely filing under law,” Sugarman wrote. “Accordingly, the candidate/committee/treasurer are subject to a total maximum civil penalty of $28,000 for missed filings.”
Sugarman’s letter, which formally requests a Board of Elections hearing officer to review the report, is the next step in the process.
Sugarman said she will seek to “recover any civil penalties” by filing a lawsuit in state Supreme Court if the hearing officer agrees with the report.
News of the state’s probe surfaced last week.