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George Maragos is abusing office to run for county executive

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos offers testimony to

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos offers testimony to the Nassau County Legislature on Aug. 23, 2017, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The duties of the Nassau County comptroller don’t include conducting opinion polls and wooing minority communities in the hope of winning a Democratic primary for county executive.

The responsibilities include, according to the county website:

  • Monitoring Nassau’s budget and financial operations.
  • Auditing government agencies and agencies with county contracts to uncover waste and abuse.
  • Reviewing county contracts and claims.
  • Reporting on matters that significantly affect Nassau’s financial health and operations.
  • Working with the administration and legislature to help the county overcome fiscal challenges.
  • Preparing Nassau’s comprehensive annual financial report.
  • Administering the county payroll and employee health benefits.

So, why did Maragos use interns to conduct a tiny poll of Long Island Rail Road riders after his threat to audit the LIRR fell flat? Why is he threatening to withhold $28 million even he says the county legally owes the LIRR?

Maragos is misusing his office to seek publicity for his race.

Why did he, on Aug. 2, promote someone with the political-sounding title of director of South and East Asian affairs, Dilip Chauhan, to deputy comptroller for minority affairs? Why does either position exist? And why did Maragos have a public swearing-in for Chauhan when no such pomp is usual? And why was it “officiated” by James Garner, the former Hempstead Village mayor and current deputy Nassau County comptroller for claims, payroll and health benefits? Garner, who is black, was in a picture with Chauhan published by minority newspapers and websites. Our attempts to get answers for these questions from Chauhan or Emmanuel Asse, the newest person in charge of communications for the comptroller’s office (the fifth person to have that role in 17 months), were fruitless.

Chauhan is a powerful figure in the Indian community. Asse is a leader in the National Action Network, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s organization, and of Haitian descent. In fact, Asse’s office phone message is given in both English and Creole. And early this month, he was the “host” of a political event aimed at the county’s Haitian community at which Maragos and his hand-picked candidates for county clerk and comptroller were the only candidates present.

Maragos is a serial office seeker who switched to the Democratic Party to run for county executive. He thinks his path to the nomination lies in bringing out minority voters for the Sept. 12 primary. Whatever the merits of that political strategy, he can’t use his position and his office to telegraph his campaign message — that when Maragos wins elections, minorities get jobs.

Maragos also loves to loan his campaigns millions of dollars, then spend practically none of the money. But why would he spend it when, according to many employees in the comptroller’s office, the campaign is being run by county employees free of charge.

Maragos is an elected official. He is abusing the public trust even as he runs to nab more of it.