Republican Nassau County district attorney candidate Kate Murray’s latest ad attempts to cast doubt on Democratic opponent Madeline Singas’ public corruption record by questioning her role in a 2011 federal lawsuit against the Nassau district attorney’s office, which Singas’ campaign argues she was never involved with.
In a 30-second ad that started airing Wednesday, a woman chopping vegetables in her kitchen tells viewers: “Madeline Singas stood by and did nothing when the office that she helped run participated in a corrupt pay-to-prosecute scheme in return for political campaign contributions."
The commercial refers to a 2011 civil lawsuit filed against the Nassau district attorney’s office and DataTreasury, a Texas technology firm formerly based in Melville, by Smithtown attorney Robert Del Col, and his client, Leftheris Doukas, a business investor who formerly lived on Long Island.
Both men claimed in court filings that they were improperly arrested on extortion charges in a 2009 sting, because they were in the midst of a financial dispute with DataTreasury, whose principals had made political contributions to the campaign of then-Nassau district attorney Kathleen Rice.
Rice, who was elected to Congress last year, called the allegations “baseless” at the time. Her campaign returned $6,500 in donations from the company’s donors in 2010, to avoid "the mere appearance of possible impropriety."
The criminal charges against both men were dismissed by a Nassau judge in 2010, who said Rice "improperly" appointed a private attorney to oversee the prosecution. At the time, Rice's office said the lawyer was selected for his expertise on technology cases.
In April, Newsday reported that Del Col and Doukas received a $1.3 million settlement in the case. The three-page settlement order notes that neither Rice nor the county will bear any costs in paying out the settlement, saying the other defendents in the case, officials with the tech firm, "expressed their desire to pay the settlement and end their participation in this litigation."
Murray’s commercial states that when the district attorney’s “office was sued, they arranged a quick $1.3 million settlement,” a claim Rice's campaign spokesman Eric Phillips called "flat out wrong" because the county was never ordered to pay any money in the nearly 4-year-old case, and said Rice and her former DA staff had "repeatedly denied" the allegations under oath in related proceedings.
Singas campaign manager Isaac Goldberg called the ad “false and baseless,” saying Singas "was not involved, in any capacity, with the case,” which took place before Singas was named Rice’s chief assistant in 2011.
“Madeline Singas has never been implicated in a so-called 'pay-to-prosecute scheme' and Kate Murray should stop peddling conspiracy theories to the voters," Goldberg said.
Murray also brought up the case briefly in her closing remarks during a debate against Singas on News 12 Long Island that aired Wednesday night, and held a news conference on the issue in Mineola on Thursday, saying an “independent investigator” should have been requested to review the case because it involved “allegations against both the district attorney’s office and private sector co-defendants.”