Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, with majority leader Peter Schmitt,...

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, with majority leader Peter Schmitt, reacts to NIFA's decision to take over the county's finances. (Jan. 26, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

If GOP-elected officials sound as if they're engaged in a political campaign against Nassau's fiscal monitors, there's one good reason. They are.

Thomas Slater, a longtime Albany-area consultant, says that in his role advising the county GOP committee, he speaks "from time to time" with County Executive Edward Mangano. Last week, Slater was asked about the message - repeated reflexively by Mangano in stump speeches these days - that the Nassau Interim Finance Authority wants to raise taxes.

"I believe that's true," he said. NIFA is pressing for higher county revenues, he said, and "that's what it [raising taxes] means where I come from."

Slater adds he's no financial expert. Nor does he pretend to be. But as a polling specialist and strategist, his experience is extensive when it comes to shaping messages. For 15 years, through 1992, Slater served as deputy administrative assistant to the State Senate GOP majority and as political director of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, according to the website of Strategic Advantage International, a venture he's involved with.

More recently, Slater worked with the campaigns of first-term state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and the hard-hitting Congressional race of Conservative candidate Douglas Hoffman. Past clients include Steve Forbes for president, ex-Reps. John Sweeney, Randy Kuhl and John McHugh (now Army secretary) as well as the Pyramid Companies and the Oneida Indian Nation.

Slater's TLS Associates of Clifton Park was paid $129,000 for professional and consulting services by the Nassau Republican Committee during 2010, and another $15,000 by Friends of Ed Mangano, according to state campaign finance disclosures posted online.

And, as Newsday's Celeste Hadrick reported in a blog post Friday, the first television commercial in Mangano's effort to push up NIFA's "negatives" is expected soon. Air time was purchased, with the ad still to be produced, her sources said. They are to be paid for with campaign funds.

A recent Newsday/News 12/Siena poll of 630 registered Nassau voters found 50 percent thought Mangano should be allowed to solve the county's fiscal crisis with his own budget plan and 52 percent indicated NIFA should have waited on a takeover.

Mangano's term began only last year. While he sues NIFA - a measure that most of the poll respondents opposed - curious insiders will want to see if and how his off-season campaign pays off.

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