A Suffolk legislative analysis found that a county attorney who is the daughter of a county lawmaker has received $195,000 in pay and benefits increases since 2011 from promotions that were not authorized by county lawmakers.
The legislative Budget Review Office estimated Elaine Barraga has earned a total $156,666 in salary increases and $38,321 worth of extra benefits since 2011. She is the daughter of Legis Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip).
The county legislature earlier this month retroactively approved three promotions for Elaine Barraga, a $150,540-a-year bureau chief in the county attorney’s office. She received her most recent promotion Dec. 19, a day before her father provided the key 10th vote for a $300 mortgage fee increase that was backed by County Executive Steve Bellone.
Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), who was the lone vote against the retroactive approvals, requested the analysis.
“What message are we sending the public that we don’t follow the law, we change it retroactively?” Trotta said.
County law says the Suffolk comptroller shall recoup salary and benefits plus interest paid to employees who don’t get a nepotism waiver. Nepotism waivers permit the hiring or promotion of relatives of county officials for positions that are not part of the competitive Civil Service system.
Thomas Barraga did not respond to requests for comment.
Elaine Barraga, who worked previously as an attorney for the state attorney general and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, did not respond to requests for comment. County Attorney Dennis Brown has praised Elaine Barraga’s performance, saying he offered her the most recent promotion to assure she stays with the county.
County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter called the past absence of waivers, “an administrative oversight.” She said Bellone planned to sign the retroactive approvals passed by the Legislature.
Doug Kellogg, spokesman for government watchdog group Reclaim New York, said, “There should be consequences here. Citizens don’t get these types of special breaks or the attitude that the law doesn’t matter if they do something wrong. The law was clearly violated here.”
A spokesman for Suffolk Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. said the office considers it a closed matter because of the legislature’s resolution.