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Suffolk police unions spent $830G on Bellone reelection bid, records show

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, left, spent $3.5

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, left, spent $3.5 million on his 2019 reelection bid, records show. Challenger John Kennedy Jr. spent $720,0000 on his campaign. Credit: James Escher

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone spent nearly $3.5 million in his reelection bid this year while a super PAC run by county police unions also spent more than $830,000 to help keep him in office, according to campaign finance records released this week.

The Long Island Law Enforcement Foundation, a super PAC run by Suffolk's police unions, spent nearly $1.5 million on county races since September, including $622,000 to help the campaigns of several incumbent legislators, records show. 

That funding did not go directly to the candidates' campaign but was used for independent efforts, such as mailers, to help them get elected.

“The county executive is proud of the support he received from labor, law enforcement, business and countless volunteers," said Derek Poppe, who served as Bellone's campaign manager before recently returning to county government as a spokesman. "The people have spoken, the campaign is behind us, and now it’s time to put politics aside and govern.”

The foundation also spent $71,992 on Republican challenger John M. Kennedy Jr. in January, although the records incorrectly list the position for which he ran. 

The super PAC has spent more than $6 million since its founding in 2011. 

Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), a former Suffolk police detective and frequent critic of the PBA, highlighted that Bellone and other legislators approved new police contracts in May that would pay officers with 15 years on the job $200,000, including benefits such as longevity pay, by 2024. 

"Clearly the government is corrupted by this money, and it has to stop because the taxpayer is the loser," Trotta said. 

Noel DiGerolamo, who leads the foundation and the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. 

Bellone, who won with 55% of the vote, spent more than double the amount — almost $1.5 million — that he did during his 2015 campaign, records show.

Kennedy spent $720,000 during the course of his campaign this year, records show. 

In the month before Election Day, Bellone raised more than $400,000 and spent $1.1 million, according to campaign finance records. Kennedy, who took 43.3% of the vote, raised more than $105,000 and spent $230,000 in that time frame, records show. 

Kennedy, the county comptroller, said he “took great pride in the $30 and $50 checks I got” from average people instead of from bigger corporate donors that Bellone got. He also criticized Bellone for the large monetary support he received from the super PAC and for using more than $3 million on a “campaign that was based on fabrication, lies and personal attacks.”

Bellone received several $25,000 donations from individuals, including from Martin Geller, a part owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, in the month before the election, records show. Some county unions donated to his campaign, including $2,500 from the Suffolk County Detectives Association PAC and $1,000 from the Superior Officers Association, records show.

His biggest single expense in the last month was nearly $355,000 to Ethica Media for advertising, records show.

Bellone also paid Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman $7,500 for consulting and paid Poppe $13,500 in salary in that time frame, records show.

Kennedy, meanwhile, paid $1,500 to consultant Ali Nazir, who is a legislative aide to his wife, Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset), records show.

The biggest single expense for Kennedy was a $35,000 reimbursement to the Suffolk County GOP, which he said was for postage and mailing, records show. His biggest contributions were $10,000, including from the campaigns of Republican Minority Leader Tom Cilmi of Bay Shore, Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) and Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci.

Libertarian candidate Gregory Fischer, who had a $45,000 war chest to start the year, raised $929 and spent just $921.

Campaign funders

The Long Island Law Enforcement Foundation, a super PAC run by Suffolk's police unions, spent $1.45 million to help incumbents get elected in 2019. They assisted these campaigns:

  • County Executive Steve Bellone: $833,295
  • William J. Lindsay (D-Bohemia): $286,754
  • Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai): $92,320
  • Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue): $57,970
  • Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst): $56,059
  • Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac): $52,805
  • Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore): $48,325
  • Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue): $15,950
  • Steven J. Flotteron (R-Brightwaters): $11,955

Source: Campaign finance records

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