Santos treasurer feels the sting
The fundraising treasurer
George Santos does not appear to be great for business.
His campaign treasurer Nancy Marks lost her gig as treasurer for the Conquering Cancer PAC founded by Dr. Jeff Vacirca, a big Santos donor who now regrets his involvement. And it’s unclear whether Marks is going to be involved with Santos himself going forward — the freshman Republican’s campaign filed paperwork naming a new treasurer on Wednesday, though the new finance guy quickly said he’d turned down the job.
It could be a sharp reversal of fortunes for Marks, whose companies were paid at least $200,000 by Santos’ many campaign committees over the last few years. And a large chunk of that money was due to services above and beyond the usual treasurer work, including fundraising.
Payments for fundraising work on the state and federal levels have been made to Marks’ companies — Campaigns Unlimited, RIA Concepts and GMG Print and Marketing Resources — for at least a decade, but things got significantly remunerative with Santos, from whom she was paid at least $50,000 for fundraising services during the 2020 and 2022 campaigns. That does not include even more money related to expenditures for fundraising (say, event venue reimbursement).
On the federal level, by way of comparison, filings show that those Marks companies had only earned a few thousand dollars total for fundraising-related services since 2011, apart from Santos. That included some work for former Rep. Lee Zeldin and failed congressional hopefuls Dan DeBono and John Cummings.
Marks’ interest in fundraising work came to include direct involvement with donors such as going to meetings between donors and candidates and following up afterward, multiple New York Republicans tell The Point.
“She’s in the room,” said one consultant who has worked with Marks in the past. With large contributors, “She can help close the deal.”
There are some indications that her proximity to donors of some clients could help with other clients. Common donors can be found in the filings of big fundraisers for whom Marks worked, like Zeldin, Santos, and 2022 New York attorney general candidate Michael Henry.
Henry’s former campaign manager and spokeswoman Candice Giove said Marks introduced Henry to approximately three donors.
Marks did not respond to a request for comment about her fundraising work or the current status of her employment with Santos. While the Shirley political pro is now under intense scrutiny for her Santos labors, some current clients defend her work. Baiting Hollow Assemb. Jodi Giglio told The Point that Marks is “strict by the books” as a treasurer.
“She's a nudge, if there's something that I need to get her, a receipt or something, so that she's in compliance. You know, she's been very careful with my books.”
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
COBA, CSEA still seek contracts in Nassau
When Nassau County’s contract with the Police Benevolent Association gets all-but-certain approvals from the county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority over the next week or so, all of the county’s police officers will be working under active contracts.
But no one else will be.
The CSEA has not gotten a deal to a vote in the more than five years since all the county’s labor contracts ran out. The Correction Officers Benevolent Association leadership did reach an agreement with the county last September, but COBA members voted it down, 358-250.
But for both the CSEA and COBA, the atmosphere is rife with tangential issues that are making it harder to come to a deal.
COBA president Brian Sullivan and union members have said that when his members rejected the deal negotiated with County Executive Bruce Blakeman, it was the situation at the jail, rather than the pay and perks in the offer, that primarily led to the rejection. Sullivan said a state law limiting solitary and restrictive confinements to 15 days and demanding due process before prisoners are isolated, short-staffing, and the leaky and decrepit facility have members stewing.
And, Sullivan told The Point Tuesday, the return of former sheriff Michael Sposato as commissioner of corrections has infuriated members.
“It’s exactly the same as when he ran it before,” Sullivan said. “Just cut, cut, cut, and never worry about staffing it right and fixing what needs to be fixed.”
For the CSEA, the peripheral issue casting a pall over negotiations is its attempt to garner as much as $100 million for comp time it says was earned by mostly front-line county employees who had to work while others were off during the pandemic. Nassau County CSEA president Ron Gurrieri told The Point this week that the union’s lawsuit is moving along, with written briefs due back to the arbitrator on Feb. 16, but meanwhile he is hoping progress can be made on a deal.
And then there is NIFA, reminding both unions and the county that however the deals are structured, they can’t increase costs more than 14.76% over the old deal, a point both leaders have to sell to members who’d like more.
Asked where negotiations with both unions stood, Blakeman told The Point Wednesday, “We are actively negotiating with CSEA. When that is complete, we will reengage with COBA.”
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
Wheel of distraction
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From Pearl Harbor to defense dollars
Every Thursday, this newsletter features what we call a Reference Point — a look through our archives at something the editorial board published on this day in years past. In scrolling through old editions this week, we were struck by several Jan. 26 editorials.
Back in 1942, the early days of Newsday’s existence, the board considered the release of a federal report on the recent attack on Pearl Harbor. It found that Pearl Harbor commanders Gen. Walter Short and Adm. Husband Kimmel were guilty of dereliction of duty. And while the board termed the findings “disgraceful” and “humiliating,” it also was grateful that our nation would allow the publication of such a critical report. “First and foremost it is profoundly important that we live in a land where such a report can be made for all, including our enemies, to read,” the board wrote.
Four years later, the board was excited about a visit by U.N. representatives to Lake Success to look at the site of the Sperry Corporation’s plant as a possible interim headquarters. The U.N. did indeed use the site from 1947 to 1952 while its Manhattan complex was being built, but Newsday’s board was rankled that Nassau County Executive J. Russel Sprague was not notified that U.N. diplomats were coming and thus was unable to meet with them. The board hoped the U.N. would select Sperry’s site, then added, “But here is a friendly tip … It’s always best to let your host know you’re coming.”
In 1953, the board applauded news that 10 Southern senators had introduced a resolution to limit poll taxes, essentially fees used in Southern states to keep Blacks from voting. “Bigotry has not been vanquished in the nation,” the board wrote. “While not unbelievable, it is indeed good news that such progress has been made, and the Southerners are willing to admit it.” It wasn’t until 1964, however, that the 24th Amendment prohibiting poll taxes in federal elections was ratified.
In 1960, the board reacted to master developer Robert Moses’ advice to Long Island’s governments to protect North Shore estates lest they fall into the hands of developers who would erect — gasp — housing. “How right he was!” the board wrote, citing one estate “lost” to a developer and another proposed to be replaced by a garden apartment development. “We have enough houses and not nearly enough green (or beach) space,” the board wrote in encouraging residents and governments to fight the trend. “Otherwise, Nassau by 1985 won’t be a paradise, as some planners hope; it will be an asphalted hell.”
Come 1968, the board was examining a “confusing” revision to the state penal code the year before that a policeman may use his weapon only when he reasonably believes that a “suspect has used or was threatening to use lethal force” that could endanger the policeman or anyone else. The board termed the language “subtle” and “hardly a firm guide” to a policeman with only seconds to make lifesaving decisions. “The confusion already generated by this section of the new penal law is strong evidence that it should be redrafted with more attention to the realities of police work,” the board concluded.
And in 1974, the board reacted to an impending request by Defense Secretary James Schlesinger to increase defense spending by 15% to $99 billion, about one-third of that year’s federal budget. The board termed that “preposterous” and “audacious” in that it would force social programs to be “cut to the bone,” and it theorized that Schlesinger was less interested in the hard dollars than in “forcing the nation to develop a long-range blueprint for its armed forces.” Whether current defense spending was the result of some long-range blueprint, it has now reached $858 billion, more than half of the omnibus bill President Joe Biden signed last month.
Taken together, a theme emerges. The issues Newsday’s previous editorial boards wrote about — the strength of our democracy, common courtesy, racism, housing and open space, the limits of police power, and defense spending — are issues that still matter today.
— Michael Dobie @mwdobie, Amanda Fiscina-Wells @adfiscina