Assemb. Todd Kaminsky, the Democrat running to replace former State Senator Dean Skelos, says he was recruited — but never worked for — a politically connected law firm that set up a voice mail line in his name.
Callers as late as Thursday night could dial the automated switchboard for Harris Beach of Uniondale and be transferred to a recording where a woman says, “Hello. You’ve reached Todd Kaminsky at Harris Beach” and leaves Kaminsky’s personal cell phone number as a contact.
Kaminsky, who wants to ban state legislators from earning outside income, and Harris Beach say the assemblyman never accepted a job with the firm, never performed work there and never earned any income.
Kaminsky’s 2015 financial disclosure form does not have to be filed with the state until May.
“They were pursuing me,” Kaminsky said on Thursday when asked about his relationship with Harris Beach. “It did not end up happening. It took me just a short time in the legislature to realize I needed my full attention to do that job well. It never got to the point that I worked there.”
Harris Beach, which has 220 attorneys in offices in three states, employs several top Democrats in its Uniondale location, including Tom Garry, vice chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee, and former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi.
Bill Albert, a Harris Beach spokesman, said Friday that he believes the law firm’s IT department “got ahead of itself, hearing that we might be bringing somebody in” and set up the voice mail.
“Obviously, he didn’t come in and they simply forgot to remove it,” Albert said. “Somebody dropped the ball. We know that.”
Albert said the firm was pursuing Kaminsky in late 2014 and early 2015. Kaminsky, of Long Beach, left his job as a federal prosecutor in 2014 to run for assembly, taking office in January 2015.
Kaminsky’s campaign did not provide additional comment on the voicemail.
But Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, said, “Todd Kaminsky has never had outside income and never will have outside income.”
Following the conviction last fall conviction of Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) on federal corruption charges, Kaminsky this month announced his candidacy for the state’s 9th senate district, which covers much of Nassau’s South Shore. Skelos is appealing his conviction.
The April 19 special election for the Skelos seat pits Kaminsky against Republican Christopher McGrath, a personal injury attorney. McGrath this week called the race one of the most important in the state’s history, as it could tip the balance in the senate back to Democrats.
Murphy on Friday criticized McGrath, saying he was “following the Dean Skelos model of state service.”
Kaminsky on Thursday held a news conference to pledge he’d introduce legislation to ban all outside income for state legislators.
“Long Islanders are fed up with having elected officials serving two masters,” he said.
But Scott Reif, a Senate GOP spokesman, countered that Kaminsky was not a reformer, citing several votes he took in the assembly as well as news of the Harris Beach voice mail.
“Every day, Todd Kaminsky’s credibility becomes more and more of an issue,” Reif said.
With Robert Brodsky