Those with the right expertise and relationships to do well in government jobs often have backgrounds in the world of politics. But it’s also important to keep governance and electoral politics as separated as possible. The executive order Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed Wednesday barring her appointees from holding leadership positions in political parties or clubs, and from donating to her campaigns, is a huge step in the right direction, and a mostly unprecedented one. Curran appears to be the first county executive in New York State history to have signed such a measure.
And no place was more in need of it than Nassau County.
Curran’s predecessor, Edward Mangano, had no such rule. His chief deputy, Rob Walker, ran the Hicksville Republican Club, which suddenly became a donations magnet once Mangano hired him. The club, which donated heavily to Mangano’s 2013 re-election campaign, raised almost $800,000 in donations in the first three years Walker served as Mangano’s top aide, after raising a total of about $150,000 in the prior five years. Many of the donors did business with the county. Mangano is under indictment on federal corruption charges, and Walker testified during a federal corruption trial that he is under investigation for allegedly awarding county contracts in return for campaign contributors, which he denies.
Curran’s appointments have not been entirely apolitical: among them her county attorney, Jared Kasschau, recently stepped down as president of the Rockville Centre Democratic Club, and he had worked at the law firm headed by a top official of the county party. But it’s not his political background that’s unusual; it’s the fact that he stepped down.
Curran ran for county executive promising to clean up the Nassau County swamp. That’s a tough job and this is a good start.
— The editorial board