Nassau Democrats have released a new radio ad in an attempt to link four county Senate Republicans to former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted earlier this month on federal corruption charges.
The 60-second ad began running on Long Island radio stations Monday and will continue through year’s end. The ad buy, which was first reported by the Daily News, cost less than $25,000, party officials said.
The ad, titled “There’s More,” cites Sens. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) and Jack Martins (R-Mineola). The ad says the lawmakers were supporters of Skelos, even after his indictment, and “broke our trust.”
“We thought that Dean Skelos and Senate Republicans stood up for Long Island,” the ad says. “We voted for them, trusted them. Now Skelos stands convicted, guilty on eight counts, and the corruption and shady practices don’t end with him.”
A news report in May said acting District Attorney Madeline Singas was investigating whether Marcellino improperly billed taxpayers for more than $20,000 in travel expenses from 2010-2013. Marcellino said he followed “all laws and appropriate guidelines.”
News reports said Hannon personally invested more than $100,000 in pharmaceutical and health-related companies that fall under the purview of the Senate Health Committee, which he chairs. Hannon said the investments were done by a broker and that he closed the investment account this year.
Martins was heard on wiretap recordings played during the Skelos trial pitching an idea to Skelos about a plan to “take credit” for water quality improvements. A Martins spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democrats claim Venditto was nominated to run for the Senate only because his father, John Venditto, is the powerful longtime supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay.
Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello said Venditto grew up in a political family, worked on his father’s political campaigns and had distinguished himself in his time in the legislature.
Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif said Democrats were “do-nothing hypocrites” who were playing politics rather than working to clean up Albany.”
“The Senate Democrats and their allies have sunk to new lows with an ad that is filled with so many errors and so much misinformation they should be laughed out of the room,” said Reif. “The ad neglects to mention that much of the corruption we have witnessed in Albany was perpetrated by former leaders of their own Senate Democrat conference.”
Jacobs said he expects Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to call for a special election to replace Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat from Manhattan also convicted of federal corruption charges, for April 19, the date of the New York presidential primary. Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Nassau Democrats will meet this weekend to discuss the time frame for selecting a candidate to run for the seat. Jacobs said he expects to screen the candidates early in January and pick a candidate by mid-month.
Democratic Assemb. Todd Kaminsky of Long Beach is considered the front-runner while Nassau Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) and Laura Gillen, who ran unsuccessfully for Nassau County clerk in 2013, have expressed interest.
In a statement last week, Kaminsky said he was “seriously considering” running for the seat.
Republicans noted that Kaminsky had Skelos and Silver as invited guests to his 2015 inauguration. Skelos was in the front row and Silver even had a speaking role, according to an inauguration video posted on YouTube.
A GOP source said Assemb. Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) is the Nassau Republicans’ leading candidate to run for the seat. Other rumored candidates include Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Nassau Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) and Denise Ford (R-Long Beach).