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Gulotta and the spirit of giving

Thomas Gulotta, former Nassau County Executive, with wife

Thomas Gulotta, former Nassau County Executive, with wife Betsy Gulotta, listening as he speaks to the press about his son Thomas J Gulotta, who was found dead in Elmont, Tuesday, December 21, 2004. Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Daily Point

A spirit of giving

Tom Gulotta is being praised after his death by both Democratic and Republican leaders as a kind and generous man willing to bridge political divides.

The former Nassau County executive certainly kept doing that with his checkbook long after he left office in 2001. A review of the financial disclosure forms of Citizens for Gulotta, his official campaign account registered in New York State, shows that he helped local Republicans campaign, but he also was generous with Democrats, once they were in office.

Filings for 2006, the oldest data available online, show Gulotta’s fund contained $1.77 million. When Dean Skelos was majority leader, Gulotta contributed to members of the Nassau Republican State Senate delegation and gave $25,000 to their state campaign committee. He also funded a slew of GOP Nassau legislative and town supervisor candidates, as well as Ed Mangano when he was county executive.

In the ultimate measure of GOP fealty, Gulotta sent a $10,000 donation every year to the family foundation of Joseph Cairo, now the Nassau GOP leader.

Perhaps since his father, Frank Gulotta, was Nassau County district attorney, Tom Gulotta felt an affinity to successors in the office. He sent $10,000 to Kathleen Rice in 2010 and three checks to the current officeholder, Madeline Singas: $5,000 in 2017; $2,500 in ’18 and $3,500 three months ago.

That soft spot for prosecutors continued with $3,500 to New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he won his second term in office. There was a $4,950 contribution in 2009 to Bill Thompson, who seemed to be a lock to win the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor until Bill de Blasio surged.

Gulotta also stayed in the game with $10,000 donations to Andrew M. Cuomo in 2010 and 2016. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli got two donations for a total of $11,000. There was a $10,000 check to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in the beginning of 2018 and $1,000 to Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen after she beat GOP incumbent Anthony Santino.

Gulotta appears to have had no new contributions to his campaign account after he left office, and at the time of his death it had $264,000 left.

Thomas Dickson of Glen Cove, the treasurer for Gulotta’s campaign committee, has the power under newly revised state law to dispose of the assets. The money can be returned to donors, or be given to charitable organizations, the SUNY or CUNY systems, the state's general fund or to other candidates or political committees.

It will be interesting to see if Gulotta’s bipartisan mantle lives on. 

- Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

Challenging Suozzi

Another challenger is floating a run against Rep. Tom Suozzi: Democrat Melanie D’Arrigo of Port Washington, someone incensed by the 2016 election who is campaigning against the status quo. 

“It’s the timeless tale of the pissed off moms storming the castle, really,” she tells The Point. 

D’Arrigo, 38, grew up in Lindenhurst and says she moved to Port Washington around four and a half years ago. Her career has been in wellness, working with organizations on building healthy cultures, but in recent years she has drawn closer to activism and politics. During a brief stay in Atlanta, she says, she helped organize a Women’s March in 2018. Back home, she says she managed Democratic Assemb. Tony D’Urso’s 2018 reelection campaign as a volunteer. 

The mom of three says she was moved to run against Suozzi because she wasn’t comfortable with his “inaction” on some issues that are on the agenda of progressive Democrats.

Three areas of note: impeachment of President Donald Trump; support for the June compromise border-aid package that didn’t have some of the restrictions wanted by new progressive members (D’Arrigo actually confronted Suozzi about this at a July town hall); and his position on the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding of abortions. 

Suozzi’s more moderate positions on impeachment and immigration are of a piece with his Problem Solvers Caucus, and he actually voted against a 2017 bill that sought to strengthen Hyde by permanently prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion. 

Activists have pointed to a video clip from a Suozzi event where the congressman seems to hedge on Hyde itself, noting, “I don't know that I would want to get rid of the Hyde Amendment," saying he had to research further. 

Suozzi hasn’t gone unthreatened this cycle: D’Arrigo joins attorney Michael Weinstock, as a Democratic challenger (Democratic national committeeman Robert Zimmerman looked at but abandoned a run from the left in recent months.) 

Suozzi, who won nearly 60 percent of the 2018 general election vote, aims center-left in a moderate district. Yet some further-left activists here as around the country want to pull an AOC-like upset, harnessing the “resistance” energy against Trump.

Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

No more war

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Final Point

Esposito brings 1,4-dioxane fight to California

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is trying to decide whether to sign legislation that would help keep the likely carcinogen 1,4-dioxane out of drinking water. But California is plowing forward.

Golden State officials are looking to regulate the substance and are using as a model a measure passed in June by New York’s State Legislature that would ban 1,4-dioxane from household products like shampoo, soap, laundry detergent and baby products. To that end, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control is flying out a Long Island environmentalist involved in the bill’s passage — Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito — to present data from the group’s study of the presence of 1,4-dioxane in household products.

“Their toxicology department is using our data to make a case to eliminate 1,4-dioxane from products there,” Esposito told The Point.

Esposito said tests done in California found 1,4-dioxane in treated effluent from sewage treatment plants, and officials there concluded it could have gotten there only from household products. As for why California would test effluent for 1,4-dioxane in the first place, Esposito said the notoriously water-starved state is considering a future in which treated effluent might have to be reused as drinking water.

Just as the household products industry has been lobbying Cuomo to veto the bill — with full-page ads in the Albany Times-Union, among other strategies — it also has met with California regulators, Esposito said. Her message to California regulators: If both states implement a ban, manufacturers will just reformulate their products, as some companies already have. This is what happened with the standards for car emissions.

“I’m very excited,” said Esposito, whose presentation is scheduled for Aug. 21. “And I’m especially excited because they paid for my plane ticket.”

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie


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