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Nassau Democrats seek state probe of super PAC

Laura Curran and Jack Martins, during a debate

Laura Curran and Jack Martins, during a debate on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The county Democrats are asking for a probe into a super PAC. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Nassau County Democratic Committee’s lawyer is asking the state Board of Elections to investigate a super PAC that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking Democratic county executive candidate Laura Curran and supporting her GOP opponent, Jack Martins.

In a letter sent late last week to Risa Sugarman, the board’s enforcement counsel, Democratic attorney Thomas Garry questioned several actions of the independent expenditure committee Concerned Citizens United.

The group registered with the state on Sept. 11, with a post office box in Mineola. Its treasurer is Wayne Hartmann, who also is treasurer of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association and its PAC.

The police union is backing Martins in the election.

Garry alleged that, as of the date of his letter, Concerned Citizens had violated state disclosure requirements by failing to file reports with the board of elections.

Independent expenditure groups, commonly called super PACS, must file weekly or 24-hour reports if they receive contributions exceeding $1,000 or incur expenses exceeding $5,000.

Garry also questioned whether the group is coordinating illegally with the PBA’s political action committee, due to their common treasurer.

“I am concerned that CCU may have accepted contributions from a political action committee with common operation control,” Garry wrote.

Sugarman has declined to comment on complaints made to her office.

In recent weeks, the Concerned Citizens group has blanketed households in Nassau with two-sided color mailers attacking Curran, a county legislator from Baldwin, as “corrupt” for using the same campaign consultants as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The mailers tout Martins, a former state senator from Old Westbury, as more friendly to taxpayers.

Concerned Citizens, until Friday, also had not filed 10-day post-primary or 32-day pre-general election reports with the state. On Friday, the group retroactively filed those reports, as well as the 11-day pre-general election report that was due that day.

In total, Concerned Citizens has raised $600,000 since forming, and spent more than $400,000, records show.

The group did not list specific names of contributors, as is required.

Instead, after leaving the name and address sections blank, it includes a note that each of three separate $200,000 contributions consisted of “member dues under $99 each.”

It is not clear if that is a reference to PBA member dues. Nassau PBA President James McDermott didn’t return a call for comment.

Concerned Citizens United also noted on its filing that certain expenses were for “mailers and mailings for Friends of Senator Jack Martins,” an apparent reference to Martins’ former campaign committee for his state Senate office.

Martins’ current committee is named Martins for Nassau.

Curran campaign spokesman Philip Shulman tried to tie the spending against Curran to a disputed deal between county labor unions — which have endorsed Martins — and a top aide to outgoing County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican.

Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker last month entered into the agreements to restore millions of dollars in longevity payments to the unions and guarantee them no layoffs through most of next year. The deals stalled after Mangano’s county attorney questioned their validity.

“Now they’re secretly funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign to try to buy this election,” Shulman said in a statement. “Isn’t that timing convenient?”

Martins has said he had nothing to do with those agreements and had made no promises to the unions about restoring benefits.

Mollie Fullington, Martins’ campaign spokeswoman, denied any coordination between the campaign and super PAC.

“We are seeing the mail just like everyone else,” she said.

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