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Steve Bellone makes pick for panel to set up public finance system

Adrian Fassett, president and CEO of the Economic

Adrian Fassett, president and CEO of the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc., will sit on a new Suffolk County campaign panel. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has appointed the final member of the county’s campaign finance board nearly a year after the board was supposed to launch.

Adrian Fassett, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk Inc., was appointed last month to help set up a new system to publicly finance county campaigns.

Fassett, who is not registered with a political party, joins two board members selected by legislative leaders: retired GOP County Court Judge Jack Toomey and Democrat Lisa Scott, president of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters.

The board was supposed to start meeting in January 2019 and have the public financing system up and running for the 2021 election campaign finance cycle, which started after Election Day 2019, officials said.

Bellone's pick was delayed after an initial candidate declined and a subsequent search for someone who was not a Republican or Democrat, officials have said.

"Adrian Fassett is extremely qualified, understands the importance of transparency in campaign finance and brings a truly independent voice to the board," Bellone spokesman Derek Poppe said in a statement. 

The board has a “mammoth undertaking” of creating public campaign finance rules, picking an executive director and launching the program before Election Day 2021, said legislative Presiding Officer Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue), who is working to set up the board’s first meeting.

Under the new system, legislative candidates could get as much as $50,000 beginning in 2021, and county executive candidates would receive as much as $1 million starting in 2023. Spending would be capped at $100,000 for legislative candidates and $2 million for county executive hopefuls.

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