Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius has released a statement responding to accusations that he is financially supporting former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick's third-party bid for Nassau County executive to draw minority votes from Tom Suozzi, the Democrat's nominee for Nassau County executive.
"Let me start by saying that I am friends with Andrew Hardwick, [Nassau County Executive] Ed Mangano, and that I play cards weekly with Steve Schlessinger and Al D’Amato. I am very friendly with Congressmen Steve Israel and Peter King. I have always given financial support to both parties, in some years more to one than the other.
My reason for supporting Andrew Hardwick is that he asked me as his friend to help him run. He wanted to have his voice heard on his ideals and what he feels was a racial assault on him by Tom Suozzi and Jay Jacobs, when they came to Freeport during his recent mayoral campaign, and openly supported a white Republican against the first Democratic African-American mayor of Freeport."
Nassau Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs responded:
"I have heard Andrew Hardwick's accusation that I am a racist because I supported his white opponent in his recent bid for re-election as mayor. If he is correct, then I must be an incompetent one. For what Andrew Hardwick fails to tell people is that when he first ran, four years ago, against a white opponent, I supported and campaigned FOR HIM! I helped get him elected! To the best of my recollection, he was African-American four years ago as well. I opposed him this time not because he was African-American, nor did I support him earlier for the same reason. I opposed him this time because he did an absolutely awful job as mayor.
As for Gary Melius: I believe, in this matter, that he is perpetrating a fraud. He purports to support Hardwick out of mere friendship. Hardwick has done his bidding when it came to the county purchase of Melius' Brooklyn Water Works property which was consummated by his other "friend," Ed Mangano. Melius is seeking Nassau County approval to hook up his Huntington [Suffolk County] property adjacent to Oheka Castle, to the Nassau County sewer system. Success in that matter would be extraordinarily lucrative.
Melius, as the owner of Oheka Castle, has used his facility to take over the Nassau Independence Party, attempted to take over the Green Party by his failed effort to get a sham candidate for county executive on that ballot, and he is now attempting to siphon votes away from the Democratic candidate with the Hardwick candidacy all designed to help his "friend" Ed Mangano. The Hardwick candidacy, as evidenced by the fact that it is 100% funded by Gary Melius, is a sham. In my view, Gary Melius' participation has less to do with helping "friends" and more to do with making a good business decision. It often seems to me that all things evil in Nassau County somehow go through Oheka Castle."