WASHINGTON — Republican Jack Martins said he raised more than $150,000 and spent in excess of $250,000 on mailers for the now-scrapped Oct. 6 primary in Long Island’s 3rd Congressional District, according to a recent letter he sent to the Federal Election Commission.
Martins, a Mineola state senator, asked the FEC to allow him to keep funds he collected and raise an additional $100,000 to cover the $250,000 he spent on a primary that a district court in August ordered and an appellate court in September canceled, the Sept. 19 letter said.
Democrats supporting former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi of Glen Cove in his campaign against Martins for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said Martins should refund the money he raised for that primary to donors.
Democrats said it would violate federal election law to let Martins accept a third maximum $2,700 contribution for his donors. The law caps the amount each contributor can give at $2,700 twice for each election in a two-year cycle.
Generally, that means a donor can give a candidate $2,700 twice, once for a primary and once for the general election.
The on-again, off-again special Oct. 6 primary — a rare second primary in an election cycle — has left a tangle of questions about campaign finance for Martins and his former GOP rival Philip Pidot, a Glen Cove financial consultant.
Pidot had battled challenges by Martins to his candidacy petition signatures since May before quitting the race on Sept. 14 after a federal appellate scrapped the special Oct. 6 primary.
But between Aug. 17, when a federal district court judge in Albany revived Pidot’s candidacy by ordering the new election, and the appellate court’s overruling of the district court two weeks ago, Martins and Pidot raised and spent money.
Martins argued in his letter to the FEC that he should be allowed to raise another $2,700 for each donor for the scraped primary because he had to campaign for it.
There is precedent for that request, said elections attorney Brett Kappel of the Washington law firm Akerman. Kappel helped set it earlier this year in a North Carolina case.
“I expect that the FEC will conclude that it must allow both candidates to treat contributions raised and spent between the district court and circuit court decisions as being for a second primary election and that both candidates will have to report them accordingly,” he said.
“Jack Martins has tried to game the system ever since he’s been in the race, and he’s still trying to do it so he can raise more money than the law allows,” said Suozzi’s senior strategist, Kim Devlin, in an email on Friday.
Martins’ spokesman, E. O’Brien Murray, called Pidot a “pawn” of Democrats, adding, “They hired a Democrat attorney and now the Democrats claim money spent and raised in a primary they orchestrated” but never took place.
Meanwhile, the FEC sent a letter Sunday to Pidot telling him he had to refund nine $2,700 contributions from donors designated for the general election.
The FEC also questioned whether Pidot had failed to file a 48-hour report on contributions for the primary that never will be. Pidot’s campaign did not respond to a query.