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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Judge halts activity by two independent expenditure groups

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has ordered two independent expenditure groups spending money in several Long Island State Senate races to cease all activity.

Associate Justice Mark C. Dillon issued a temporary restraining order Friday declaring that New Yorkers Together, which receives support from the Communications Workers of America, and Teachers for Todd, a political action committee funded by the United Federation of Teachers, had violated the state’s independent expenditure laws.

Dillon’s order canceled both groups’ registration, preventing them from spending money for the rest of the campaign.

Teachers for Todd has spent money on behalf of Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who is seeking re-election in the 9th District. New Yorkers Together has spent on behalf of Democratic candidates in the 5th, 6th and 8th Senate District races, but not for Kaminsky.

The temporary restraining order came after Teachers for Todd transferred $300,000 to New Yorkers Together last month. Changes to State Election law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in August prohibit independent expenditure committees from making contributions to any political committee, including those of other independent expenditure groups.

Kaminsky faces Republican Chris McGrath of Hewlett in a rematch of their April special election in the 9th Senate District. Kaminsky narrowly defeated McGrath.

“Todd Kaminsky and his special interest allies are attempting to buy an election, stealing it right out from under hardworking Nassau County taxpayers and their families,” McGrath said. “This order acknowledges team Kaminsky’s illegal behavior and shuts down any and all of their spending for the remainder of the election.”

The order does not accuse Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, of wrongdoing. Independent expenditure groups, by law, are not allowed to coordinate with candidates.

Kaminsky campaign spokesman Isaac Goldberg responded: “This lawsuit involves two independent groups that are distinct and separate the Kaminsky campaign. The Kaminsky campaign does not coordinate or communicate with these groups.”

The Communications Workers of America filed an appeal Monday, calling the temporary restraining order “a virtually unprecedented and unconstitutional prior restraint of political speech.”

Bob Master, legislative and political director for CWA District 1, said this “baseless legal maneuvering by the corrupt Nassau Republicans is designed for one reason only, and that’s to get a bogus PR hit before Election Day. New Yorkers Together has not been involved in the 9th State Senate district, nor did it ever have any plans to get involved.”

A UFT spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

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