Marc Herbst, left, and Sammy Chu.

Marc Herbst, left, and Sammy Chu. Credit: Barry Sloan, Edgewise Energy

Daily Point

Long Islanders on track for confirmation

Come Tuesday, Edgewise Energy’s Sammy Chu and Long Island Contractors’ Association head Marc Herbst will be in the Albany hot seat.

But the seat might not get too warm.

Chu and Herbst are slated for confirmation hearings as Metropolitan Transportation Authority board representatives. The timing is key; if they’re confirmed, they’ll be able to attend the MTA’s March meetings, scheduled for March 25 and March 27.

Chu, who has served as Suffolk County’s MTA representative but now will represent Gov. Kathy Hochul, and Herbst, who was chosen as Suffolk’s representative under new County Executive Ed Romaine, are slated to be questioned by the State Senate’s transportation committee, ahead of a full vote of the Senate later in the week. Chu and Herbst are likely to have a relatively smooth ride. Long Island’s sole state senator on the transportation committee — Mario Mattera — says he’s a big fan of both.

“You couldn’t ask for better people to represent Long Island on the MTA board,” Mattera, a Republican from St. James, told The Point. “They’re both dedicated, they’re both knowledgeable, they know infrastructure better than anybody. They are guys I look up to.”

But that doesn’t mean Mattera will let Chu and Herbst go without some intense questioning. Mattera already knows what he hopes to ask.

Top on the list, Mattera said, is inquiring how Chu and Herbst will bring money back to Long Island, particularly if congestion pricing, which is expected to raise at least $1 billion annually, goes into effect. While Mattera noted he continues to have concerns about congestion pricing, he said he was most attentive to whether Suffolk County would get its fair share. The law states that the Long Island Rail Road will get 10% of all congestion pricing revenue.

Then there’s the item at the top of Mattera’s wish list if those funds do come through: electrification of the Port Jefferson branch. Mattera noted that he had worked to advance plans for an MTA rail yard at the old Lawrence Aviation site — but that the rail yard wouldn’t be enough for Suffolk without electrifying the line further east from Huntington. Talk of alternatives, like battery trains, are “just a Band-Aid fix,” he said.

“We want electrification,” Mattera said. “We deserve it.”

Mattera, who has served as a union leader for decades, also said he’d question Herbst and Chu about their perspective on what MTA workers need, from both a safety and a financial perspective.

In the end, however, the answers may not matter much.

“I know they’re the right people to be appointed,” Mattera said. “I’m going to be promoting them with my conference, and I don’t expect them to have a problem.”

— Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

What makes him tick

Credit: Columbia Missourian/John Darkow

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Final Point

For LI campaign committees, it's on your Marks

For those who follow money in politics, a quick look at Long Island-based campaign committee reports filed with the federal government going into 2024 might give you the impression that LI’s biggest money guru lives in Shirley.

Nearly a quarter of the 114 campaign committees, including PACs, list Nancy Marks of Shirley as their treasurer going in 2024, even though Marks pleaded guilty to a federal fraud conspiracy charge in October 2023 for mishandling campaign finances.

A longtime fixture in GOP circles, Marks was implicated in a scheme as ex-treasurer of former Rep. George Santos' campaign committee to bolster his campaign finances with fake loans and fake donors. Marks is awaiting sentencing, facing up to 4 years in federal prison, pending Santos’ criminal trial later this year. In December, Santos was expelled from Nassau County’s 3rd District seat in Congress. But recently he announced a new bid to run for the 1st District seat in the June party primary against Republican incumbent Rep. Nicholas LaLota.

Most of the 2024 PACs and campaign committees still listing Marks as their treasurer appear dormant and have little or no money these days, according to Federal Election Commission records reviewed by The Point. However, the 27 PACs and campaign committees entrusting their finances to Marks do provide a glimpse into LI’s GOP politics and causes during the height of her influence.

Aside from her involvement with Santos, records show Marks is still listed as the treasurer for three seemingly dormant committees involving former Rep. Lee Zeldin who lost his 2022 GOP bid for governor. One committee, “Zeldin for Congress,” listed $118,000 in contributions during the last quarter of 2023 but finished the year with no cash on hand. Another committee, “Zeldin for Congress Recount,” still had $5,200 in its kitty going into 2024, records show.

In these 2024 federal election records, Marks also is listed as treasurer for various PACs favorable to Donald Trump. These include “Veterans for MAGA PAC,” “We The People PAC,” “Keep America Free PAC,” and “Defend The Constitution PAC,” which raised and spent more than $100,000 in 2022, records show. Now in 2024, these groups list nothing financially except Marks by name and their ghostlike presence with the FEC.

While Marks is best known for her affiliation with Republican politics, records show she is also listed as the treasurer for the “Independence Party of New York State” committee, with just $539 in the bank going into 2024. However, the Independence Party lost its ballot status in 2020 because it did not receive a sufficient number of votes in past elections.

With his looming criminal trial, Santos' relationship with Marks seems no more. Since last May, Santos has relied on a new treasurer, Jason D. Boles, a political strategist from Georgia who has served as treasurer for another controversial GOP figure, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

This time around, Santos has promised more transparency than before. But that may prove difficult with Boles, one of the principals in RTA Strategy. A catchphrase on RTA Strategy’s website is: “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

According to a March 7 filing with the FEC, Boles is the treasurer for the new committee “Santos For Congress” with its mailing address in Alpharetta, Georgia — an Atlanta suburb more than 900 miles from Shirley.

— Thomas Maier

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