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Election officials resume probe of Norma Gonsalves despite office flood

Norma Gonsalves, presiding officer of the Nassau County

Norma Gonsalves, presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

State Board of Elections Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman acknowledged Friday that her office was flooded and closed for three days last week after a water pipe burst.

“It was like pouring in our offices,” Sugarman said. “I think I lost my fax machine and my shredder but no records were destroyed.”

Suspicious fires have sometimes destroyed paper files in the past in government offices. But Sugarman shrugged off any suggestion of sabotage.

“It was a worker and a pipe. It wasn’t anything nefarious,” she said.

She also said there was no truth to rumors that the flood had caused her office to delay a hearing involving Nassau County Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow).

Sugarman last month accused Gonsalves, presiding officer of the county legislature, of 10 counts of failing to file campaign-finance disclosure reports and recommended fines of as much as $28,000.

Newsday reported last year that Gonsalves violated state election laws at least 33 times over nine years by failing to disclose political donors and campaign expenses involving Friends for Norma Gonsalves, a previously unregistered campaign committee that she controls.

Sugarman said Friday that the hearing officer had yet to schedule a hearing on her report.

John Ciampoli, the former Nassau County attorney and longtime Republican elections lawyer who said he is representing Gonsalves, said, “The important thing here is, the campaign committee involved has complied with the law 100 percent. The minute Norma found out there was a problem, she acted to correct the problem. Right now the committee is completely in compliance. If you read the statute, the main thrust of the statute is to get compliance with the law. That has been done.”

He added that he has talked with the enforcement office. “We have mututally agreed to come up with a revised schedule which allows us to engage in talks about settling the case. The major factor here in settling the case is we have accomplished the goals of the law.”

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