Democratic congressional contender DuWayne Gregory on Wednesday called on veteran GOP Rep. Peter King to return or turn over to charity $5,000 in contributions given to him by the star prosecution witness in the ongoing Nassau corruption trial, Harendra Singh.
Gregory, the Suffolk Legislature’s presiding officer, also demanded that King “come clean” about his ties to Singh and “serious allegations of pay-to-play corruption.”
Gregory held his news conference outside U.S. District Court in Central Islip, where former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda, and ex-Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto are on trial.
King, of Seaford, has not been charged with any crime in the case, and his mention was a small part of the seven days of testimony by Singh so far.
“DuWayne must be getting desperate,” King said in a telephone interview. He said he did not recall ever meeting or even speaking with Singh, and that federal investigators have not interviewed him about the case.
King said he has no intention of returning any donations because he has done nothing wrong and returning the money would in effect be acknowledging otherwise.
Gregory said Singh in testimony named “King among the politicians that he gave money in exchange for political favors.” Gregory said King used “his power as a Congress member to resolve visa issues for family in India.”
Gregory said campaign rec ords show “a clear money trail” in two Singh contributions to King totaling $5,000 on April 30, 2012.
“I am appalled by the allegations in Mr. Singh’s testimony and by Mr. King’s ties to his web of corruption,” said Greg ory. King should “immediately disclose all of his meetings with Mr. Singh and his associates,” Gregory said.
King said that after Singh mentioned his name in court, his office checked records and found that staff members made five or six calls on visa issues for two Singh relatives from October 2007 to March 2008.
King said the relatives’ applications were denied, and he was never personally involved. “We do this for hundreds of constituents, and it was forgotten about,” he said.
King also said he didn’t recall Singh’s donations. “I’ve raised $13 million since I’ve been in Congress, and one donation of $5,000 does not stand out,” he said.
Gregory faces a Democratic primary against Babylon progressive activist Liuba Grechen Shirley on June 26.