Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman

Ordinarily, elected officials send out holiday cards to constituents at their own or their campaign fund’s expense. At least that’s what is proper and expected with any personal or self-promotional mailing.

So to those who know the drill, it was a bit of a surprise when in recent days residents of the Town of Hempstead received warm season greetings from Supervisor Don Clavin, with Town Hall at 1 Washington Street as the return address — and stamped on a Pitney Bowes machine with a Hempstead ZIP code.

It was a very nice, tasteful blue card with a fitting snowflake border. "Best wishes for a joyful holiday season and a healthy, Happy New Year!" it proclaimed, with a signature from "Don." One town resident told The Point that it had to be a "first."

Contacted for comment, Clavin issued a statement through his campaign committee Tuesday afternoon: "Friends of Don Clavin paid for 400 holiday cards to be printed for distribution to friends of the Supervisor. Inadvertently, 195 cards had postage affixed at the Town's mail room.

"The Town has already been reimbursed for postage costs of $103.35 by Friends of Don Clavin. In accordance with the law, no disclaimer appeared on the cards as fewer than 500 cards were produced." The statement did not explain how the cards made it into the basement of Town Hall where they had to be handled by town personnel and placed in printed envelopes with an official return address — or whether the number was purposely kept under 500 to avoid printing disclaimers.

One might just respond to the "inadvertently" part of Clavin’s response with a casual dismissal of a mistake, except this is the sort of thing for which Republican Clavin’s political critics have been bird-dogging him for years.

Just last month, Jason Abelove, his unsuccessful Democratic opponent, called for investigations of what he called taxpayer-funded mailers that double as campaign literature. It’s unclear whether county election officials, comptroller officials or state ethics officials ever took up the matter as Abelove requested.

"They’re coming almost daily, now that we’re close to the election," Abelove said at the time, citing a budget report update on "Clavin’s 2022 budget to cut taxes and maintain services," one promoting parks improvements, and a town event billed very personally as "Don Clavin’s summer of fun."

Back in 2018, when Clavin was the town’s receiver of taxes, then-Democratic town supervisor Laura Gillen targeted his conspicuous mailing habits.

"The only elected official in the Town of Hempstead who has spent more than what was spent last year and who has spent more than every other elected official in the town is our receiver of taxes," Gillen said. "He has spent more this year than every other elected official combined."

As a second-term supervisor, Clavin persists in putting his stamp on a sometimes-controversial flow of mail.

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