Democratic candidates scrambled to remove their names from the Syosset office they share with state Assembly candidate Dean Hart on Monday ahead of a news conference that Hart called to respond to allegations that he had fleeced his ailing mother.
Campaign staffers removed signs and covered up campaign buttons for congressional candidate Tom Suozzi and state Senate candidate James Gaughran before news cameras arrived.
Hart ruefully noted the missing signage after addressing the media about the bitter family dispute.
“They took their signs down until they see what happens here,” Hart said.
The Hart, Suozzi and Gaughran campaigns each contribute rent for the strip mall office, which is coordinated through the Oyster Bay Democratic Party, campaign officials said.
The other campaigns found out about Hart’s news conference shortly before it was held.
“It’s not necessarily the proper venue given it’s a personal issue for Dean,” said Kevin Clemency, campaign manager for Gaughran, who is trying to unseat state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset). “It had nothing to do with the other two candidates that are sharing the office.”
Suozzi’s campaign manager Mike Florio said “we would have preferred if he had it at a different location.”
Nassau Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs called it “a sad family dispute.”
“This is a personal issue that frankly sounds like a he-said, she-said argument, with the only reason that it became public is the court record being sealed,” he said. “My recommendation to him would’ve been to let it go.”
Hart, challenging Assemb. Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head), has been in a dispute with his sister over care of their mother, Beatrice Hart, and her $5 million estate. Newsday wrote about the case as an example of court records that have been sealed from public view by Long Island judges.
Hart said at the news conference Monday that he has been a victim of the corrupt Nassau legal system and promised to release documents related to the case.