Suffolk County Legis. Robert Trotta called on political candidates from all parties to return contributions from the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association PAC Wednesday as he raised questions about the police union’s campaign financing practices.
Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said the union should not be allowed to give contributions larger than $5,000 to its PAC and criticized the use of union dues to finance the PAC, saying police officers may not want their dues used for political contributions or to benefit certain candidates.
Trotta called on candidates to return PAC contributions so they can be returned to union members, and said he has written state Attorney General Letitia James asking her to probe the issue.
“I was a cop for 25 years,” Trotta said. “This disgusts me.”
PBA president Noel DiGerolamo said PBA attorneys oversee all transactions and, “every other counsel in the state allows unions to contribute to campaigns.”
“We are a law enforcement organization that has always been and will always be at the forefront of everything legitimate and legal,” DiGerolamo said.
DiGerolamo declined to respond to specific questions about Trotta's assertions, saying he did not want to “dignify” them.
Trotta said the PBA should only be able to contribute $5,000 a year, based on the state’s limit for contributions by corporations. Trotta said the PBA is a corporation because it was incorporated and owns a building that generates rental income.
New York State election law does not say whether a union can be considered a corporation and does not specify how much money unions can give to PACs.
Also, union members can opt out of paying dues.
The PBA contributed $10,000 to the PAC in July, and another $91,220 has come from "union dues" so far this year, according to state campaign finance reports.
The PAC has contributed $87,005 to candidates and political committees so far this year. Among the recipients were the campaigns of 11 incumbent county legislators — Democrats and Republicans — who are seeking reelection, records show.
Trotta said he has never taken contributions from the PBA or other unions that have contracts on which he votes.
The PBA had a revenue of $4.5 million, including $2.6 million in union dues, in 2017, according to the most recent tax filing available.
The county Legislature in May approved a new police contract that will provide officers with 15 years on the job $200,000 a year, including overtime and other pay benefits.