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Nicholas LaLota takes heat from Democrats over fundraiser

Suffolk County's Republican elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota.

Suffolk County's Republican elections Commissioner Nicholas LaLota. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Nicholas LaLota, the Republican Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner, is facing criticism from Democrats for holding a fundraiser for a GOP county legislature candidate last week.

LaLota held a “Cocktails on the Canal”-themed fundraiser at his Amityville home on Oct. 1 for Anthony Piccirillo, who is challenging Legis. William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) in the 8th District.

Democrats questioned LaLota’s ability to fairly oversee the Nov. 5 election in the race.

“That is a clear conflict of interest for the county commissioner of the Board of Elections to hold a fundraiser for a candidate,” said Keith Davies, a county Democratic Party spokesman. “That just seems on its face unethical and a clear conflict of interest.”

LaLota said the county Board of Ethics said the fundraiser was fine, as long as he didn't use his official title on fundraiser materials. 

But, regardless, LaLota said he is allowed to support political candidates, particularly because of the partisan nature of his job.

“It comes with an expectation — just as the Democratic commissioner has — for us to represent our parties,” LaLota said.

LaLota, who said he volunteers to drive Piccirillo door-to-door to campaign on weekends, said there is bipartisan oversight of elections, so “voters should feel comfortable.”

Election commissioners are nominated by county political party leaders.

Two years ago, Piccirillo lost to Lindsay by only 244 votes.

Anita Katz, the Democratic county elections commissioner, declined to comment on the fundraiser.

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