As criticism of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's decision not to file county financial disclosure forms mounted Tuesday, Levy blasted back, defending his actions, but also suggesting he would file the forms.
In a news release, Levy called legislative Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) "reprehensible" for urging Levy to "stop putting himself above the law" and to voluntarily file the county forms.
"Steve loves to lecture the Legislature about being financially responsible," Cooper said in a statement. "I and all my other legislative colleagues have somehow managed to fill out the correct paperwork since we entered public office."
Levy declined to be interviewed. In the news release, he defended his practice since 2006 of filing a state financial disclosure form - which is less extensive than the county form - arguing that New York City accepts state forms. However, Suffolk County law requires employees to fill out a specific form outlined in the statute and does not allow substitutions for elected officials.
"I have no problem submitting a county form and call upon Mr. Cooper to disclose all of his financials over the last six years to the public," Levy said in the release.
Levy's spokesman Dan Aug said Levy would file the required form for 2009 by next week, and that Levy would review the other years.
The bitter exchange came a day after Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota subpoenaed records related to financial disclosures and, specifically, who filed forms different from the one mandated in county law. Spota's office declined to comment on the subpoenas, but the action followed Newsday inquiries about why Levy has been filing a different form.
Levy, who switched to the Republican Party in March, recently fell short in his bid to win a spot in the GOP primary for governor. He has said he is considering running for governor on a third-party line.
Records show that the county ethics commission - whose members were appointed or recommended by Levy - has allowed him to file a state disclosure form since 2006. As a result, Levy has not disclosed partners he had in real estate holdings in Eastport and Albany, bank account balances or the actual market values of his properties. By contrast, the county form requires officials to list specific values, such as market value of real estate holdings, stocks and bonds, along with the names of any partners. It also requires officials to list cash in bank accounts, along with credit card debt amounting to more than $1,000.
Also last night, the legislature appointed Craig J. Tortora, of Commack, to a vacancy on the ethics commission.