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Nassau DA candidate appeals for funds to defend nominating petitions

Michael Scotto announced his candidacy for Nassau district

Michael Scotto announced his candidacy for Nassau district attorney on May 6. Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan

Cash-strapped Nassau District Attorney candidate Michael Scotto is looking for a new elections lawyer -- while trying to raise enough money to pay for one.

The former Manhattan prosecutor, who is trying to qualify to run a primary against Democratic party candidate and acting District Attorney Madeline Singas, emailed supporters Monday that he would have to drop out of the race if he didn't raise $50,000 in the next two days.

Scotto campaign spokesman Warren Cohn acknowledged Monday that the money was needed to pay an attorney to fight objections filed against Scotto's nominating petitions.

"County Democrats are doing everything they can to work against us," Cohn said. "Part of that is issuing a huge petition challenge. Basically they're on a fishing expedition."

Some of the objections include allegations of fraud. But Cohn said ,"There are definitely 2,000 registered Democrats" among the 6,355 signatures submitted by the campaign.

Scotto's first elections lawyer, Marty Connor of Brooklyn, left because the candidate could not continue to pay him, Cohn said. Scotto's campaign reported having less than $1,400 in the bank last week after raising nearly $110,000 since January.

"We spent a lot of what we raised on Mr. Connor and the petition process and staff," Cohn said. "In his contract we would have had to come up with a large sum of money to move forward...He decided he would have to step aside. He did it very nicely."

Cohn said the campaign was interviewing new candidates as he spoke. Asked if longtime Republican elections lawyer John Ciampoli was among them, Cohn said, "I can't confirm or deny that at the moment." Ciampoli could not be reached.

"We need an elections attorney. We need to be able to afford that," Cohn said. "Mr.  Scotto was on the phone all day. We raised $8,000 today. We're doing it."

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