The Democratic legislative candidate against Nassau Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) called Tuesday for an amendment to GOP-proposed ethics legislation that would be named after and apply to Gonsalves herself.
“If Legislator Gonsalves wants to actually get serious about ethics reforms, what about adding the ‘Gonsalves Amendent’ to her toothless bill,” said Eileen Napolitano, who is expected to be nominated by the Nassau Democratic Party this month to run for Gonsalves’ 13th District seat.
The amendment “would bar elected officials who consistently violate and disregard New York State campaign finance law from seeking or holding public office,” Napolitano said in a news release.
A State Supreme Court justice last year fined Gonsalves’ campaign committee, Friends of Norma Gonsalves, $14,000 for violating campaign finance law eight times between 2013 and 2015 by failing to disclose political donors and campaign expenses.
The state investigation followed a Newsday story in February 2015 that reported Gonsalves had not registered her campaign committee with the state Board of Elections as required by law and failed to disclose political donors and campaign expenses at least 33 times over nine years.
Gonsalves blamed her committee treasurer for failing to electronically file the campaign finance reports with the state.
“If Gonsalves wants to fight corruption and introduce stricter ethics laws, maybe she should start with herself,” said Napolitano, 54, of East Meadow.
Gonsalves spokesman Frank Moroney responded Tuesday: “The election committee for Presiding Officer Gonsalves is in full compliance with the election law. Further, Mrs. Napolitano is wrong on the facts. Neither Presiding Officer Gonsalves nor her treasurer were found liable for any fines.”
Although Gonsalves’ campaign committee is named after her and works on her behalf, Moroney said state law places the responsibility for filing on the treasurer.
Gonsalves and the Republican majority on the Nassau County Legislature have filed legislation that would bar persons convicted of felonies from holding public office or from sitting on county boards and commissions.
In a letter to the editor published in Newsday’s Monday edition, Gonsalves named former Democratic legislators David Denenberg, Roger Corbin and Patrick Williams as felons who would be barred from holding public office under the bill.
Denenberg pleaded guilty to billing a private client of his law firm for work he did not perform. Corbin was found guilty of receiving bribes and official misconduct, while Williams was found guilty of conspiracy in relation to their involvement in an $80 million redevelopment project in New Cassel. Corbin was also found guilty of tax evasion.
Gonsalves did not mention former State Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, who was convicted of federal corruption charges involving, in part, a Nassau County contract; Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican who is facing federal charges of trading county work for personal favors; or Mangano’s special counsel, Hempstead Town Board member Edward Ambrosino, a Republican charged with tax evasion involving money earned from two Nassau County agencies.
Skelos is appealing his conviction while Mangano and Ambrosino have pleaded not guilty.
Gonsalves, 82, who was first elected in 1997, plans to run for re-election this fall. The GOP county committee meets Thursday to nominate its candidates.
Moroney counterattacked by noting that Napolitano has voted in only two election since she registered to vote in 1999, including in 2015 when she first challenged Gonsalves for the legislative seat but lost.
Napolitano responded in a statement: “Every day I credit Norma Gonsalves, and her federal-prison bound buddies in government who game the system on the backs of hard-working taxpayers, as the reason why I could no longer sit quietly on the sidelines.”