Nassau Republican legislators are touting their record on fighting crime as their re-election campaigns get underway. All 19 seats on the county legislature are up this November.
At least three GOP legislators, including Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), recently mailed constituents a county-paid full-color flyer with the bold green headline: “Crime is Down 27 percent thanks to [insert appropriate lawmaker’s name] and the Republican majority.”
But some critics say Republicans are overlooking criminal charges against some of their own party members.
Legis. Laura Curran, a Baldwin Democrat running for county executive, said in a response to the Republican mailer: “Aside from wasting taxpayer dollars on shamelessly political and useless mail, Norma Gonsalves clearly didn’t check the political corruption blotter, because everyone in Nassau County knows those arrests are way up.”
Curran was referring to the arrests of Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who allegedly was trading county work for personal favors; former Republican Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, who was charged along with Mangano by federal prosecutors in the alleged bribery and extortion scheme; and Republican Hempstead Town Board member Edward Ambrosino, who has been charged with tax evasion in connection with his earnings from two county agencies.
All have pleaded not guilty.
There also was the conviction of Nassau Republican Dean Skelos, the former state senator co-leader, on federal corruption charges involving, in part, a county contract. He is appealing.
And Gonsalves’ campaign committee was fined $14,000 last year after a State Supreme Court justice found that the committee violated state law eight times between 2013 and 2015 by failing to disclose political donors and expenses.
Gonsalves was not found personally liable, but she has announced she will not seek re-election this fall.
In response to Curran, Republican legislative spokesman Frank Moroney said, “Laura Curran’s comment demonstrates that her campaign is bankrupt of any creative ideas. The people of Nassau County care about low taxes and low crime rates, but not low campaigns.”
Republican and Democratic polls have found that corruption is a top issue with voters this year. Gonsalves and the Republican majority are expected to announce a “comprehensive Ethics Reform Law” at a news conference Wednesday.
Republicans already have sent a constituent mailer touting their reforms to the county’s contracting process. The mailing, sent to nine legislative districts, cost taxpayers $126,000, according to the legislature’s independent budget review office.
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is challenging Curran for the Democratic nomination for county executive.
Former State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) is the Republican candidate for county executive.
Mangano, whose term is up at the end of December, has not yet said whether he will run again.