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FEC draft opinion allows Jack Martins to tap donors 3rd time

Republican state Sen. Jack Martins is running for

Republican state Sen. Jack Martins is running for the congressional seat of Rep. Steve Israel, who is retiring at the end of the year. Photo Credit: James Escher

WASHINGTON — The Federal Election Commission on Monday issued a draft advisory opinion that would allow Long Island Republican congressional candidate Jack Martins to tap his political donors a third time to raise $100,000 to cover money he spent for the scrapped Oct. 6 primary.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee immediately opposed the draft advisory opinion, which is open for comment until Friday and still not finalized, saying in a letter than it would be “unfair and contrary to law.”

The proposed opinion is the latest step in the lawsuit-riddled and convoluted battle between Martins, a Mineola state senator, and his Republican rival Philip Pidot, a Glen Cove financial consultant, who ended his bid last month.

Martins is running against Glen Cove Democrat Tom Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive, for the seat being vacated at the end of this year by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington).

The FEC’s draft advisory opinion is in response to Martins’ request to cover the debts he incurred after he raised more than $150,000 but spent about $250,000 on mailings for a special Oct. 6 primary against Pidot.

A federal judge in Albany on Aug. 17 ordered the primary, but nearly a month later a federal appellate court on Sept. 14 canceled it, reinstating Martins as the Republican nominee and prompting Pidot to quit the race.

Normally, a congressional candidate can raise the maximum $2,700 from a donor for each of two elections in a two-year cycle: once for the primary, which in New York is held in June, and once for the general election, which is on Nov. 8 this year.

The FEC on Sept. 16 issued an advisory opinion saying Martins could go back to those donors for a third $2,700 maximum for the Oct. 6 primary, but the next day the appellate court scrapped the unsual third election.

Now, Martins may be on the verge of winning the FEC’s blessing to raise $100,000 more, over the Democrats’ objection.

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