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Records: Kennedy has fundraising edge over Schneiderman in comptroller race

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy at Brookhaven

Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy at Brookhaven Town Hall on June 9, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

Suffolk Comptroller John M. Kennedy has a narrow $18,503 edge in fundraising over his challenger, Democratic Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, with a month to Election Day, according to the latest disclosure reports.

The Republican Kennedy, who reported having $91,146 in July, has raised $72,799 since and has spent $33,184, leaving him with $130,661 cash on hand. Schneiderman has raised $115,499 and transferred in $20,000 from his $35,000 town supervisor campaign fund. He has spent $23,340, leaving $112,158 in cash on hand.

Schneiderman’s biggest donors were businessmen Andrew Zaro and Leonard Blavatnik, who both list Manhattan addresses. Each gave $25,000.

A Ukrainian-born billionaire, Blavatnik is a U.S. and British citizen who was knighted last year for his philanthropies and owns Access Industries, which includes the Warner Music Group. Zaro, president of Cavalry Portfolio Services, a debt collection company, has a $40 million home in Water Mill and is married to actress Lois Robbins, who appeared on the daytime soap operas “All My Children” and “Days of Our Lives.”

Schneiderman’s next biggest donors were County Executive Steve Bellone, who gave $15,000, and Social Club Southampton, owned by Elm Street Restaurant LLC, which made a $10,000 in-kind donation of food, staff and venue for a fundraiser. The county executive is headlining a fundraiser for Schneiderman Friday at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk.

Kennedy criticized Schneiderman for relying on Manhattan-based owners of Hamptons summer homes. All of his contributors live locally, he said. The comptroller called it “a sad day” when Bellone “wants to buy his own chief fiscal officer … and thwart independence … and transparency at all costs.”

A call to Bellone’s office for comment was not immediatly returned.

Schneiderman, noting that some of his largest donors are established business leaders, said: “I’m always happy when people have faith in me,” adding “They know I cannot do anything for them as comptroller and I’m not sure that’s the case with all of Mr. Kennedy’s money.”

Kennedy, whose late father headed the Building Trades Council of Nassau-Suffolk, has received much of his financial support from labor unions, which provided $35,900 — about half his donations since July. His biggest single backer was the Association of Municipal Employees, which represents Suffolk white- and blue-collar county workers, and gave $12,500. County law enforcement unions gave $8,300, the largest being the Suffolk PBA which donated $3,600.

In another hotly contest race, fundraising has slowed for surrogate judge after the Democratic primary. In the preliminary race, Republican Tara Scully spent $74,081, while Democratic Family Court Judge Theresa Bryant Whelan spent $34,724, but got $148,855 in help from the Suffolk Democrats.

Scully’s 32-day pre-general election report shows she has $11,087 cash on hand, raising $4,850 since her 10-day post-primary filing, but still has loans and debts of $82,714.

Whelan has $14,156 cash on hand, but raised just $955 and has spent only $76.95 since her post-primary filing last month, but has no debts or loans. Since the 10-day post-primary report, Suffolk Democrats have spent only $2,635 on Whelan.

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