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Editorial: Follow the money in Nassau GOP contributions

Joseph Mondello, the Nassau Republican leader.

Joseph Mondello, the Nassau Republican leader. Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

The rules of Republican politics in Nassau County are changing. For decades, power players who often came up in the Town of Hempstead, like Nassau County GOP chairman Joseph Mondello, have controlled the party, the money and the patronage in Nassau. Now, that centralized power is breaking down as the party chief is challenged by players inside the party but outside his control.

Leading the charge is Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, the right-hand man to County Executive Edward Mangano. Walker's Hicksville Republican Committee has raised almost $800,000 since Mangano was elected county executive, outstripping other local organizations that have led the fundraising pack.

Almost two-thirds of the companies or their executives that have given the Hicksville club at least $3,000 in the past four years have done business with Nassau during that time. Although somewhat ugly, it's neither unusual nor surprising. It's how the game is played. What's changed is that the money is flowing through Walker's hands, via the Hicksville club, rather than Mondello's and the county organization. That alters the balance of power, but it also makes the flow of campaign money harder to follow. That's why it's important to follow all these contributions and the convoluted ways they can flow to elections to determine whether any are illegal campaign contributions.

The Hicksville Republican Club's use of its money has been challenged by Nassau Democrats but not really investigated by the state Board of Elections or prosecutors. It should be. There has been enough spending by the club that parallels Mangano's fundraising to at least raise questions.

The fight for power and contributions among Nassau Republican leaders is their business. How the contributions fund campaigns, and affect the awarding of contracts and hiring, is everybody's business.