Laura Curran pitches Nassau campaign finance reforms

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Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) speaks at a news conference outside her Baldwin home on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Laura Curran pledged Thursday to limit political contributions by her staff and county vendors if elected.

Curran, a second-term county legislator, said she would sign an executive order barring appointees in her administration from giving to or soliciting donations for her campaign.

She would also lobby the county Legislature to create a list of people and companies with business before the county, and limit them to giving $500 to county legislative campaigns and $1,000 to campaigns for countywide offices.

The measures would help erode Nassau’s “pay-to-play” culture and and dispel the “appearance of malfeasance” that limits trust in government, she said.

“The reality is, most of our vendors are honest and hardworking, as our most of our public officials,” Curran said at a news conference at her Baldwin home. “It’s the arrested, indicted and convicted politicians who give all of us a bad name, and also make the public so cynical about us and government.”

Curran said she would also lobby the state Legislature to further limit contributions by limited liability companies, which are often used by individuals to give large amounts to campaigns.

Nassau has seen several scandals in recent years involving political donations that appeared to be given in exchange for favorable action.

Rob Walker, the chief deputy county executive, is reportedly under investigation for political contributions from a company that got a multimillion-dollar Nassau contract the same day.

And Edward Mangano, the current Republican county executive, was indicted in the fall in an alleged bribe and kickback scheme with an Oyster Bay restaurateur who received county pacts.

Curran modeled her “doing business with” list on New York City’s similar rules, which was established in February 2008, campaign aides said.

The Nassau district attorney’s office and the state attorney general’s office have similar restrictions for appointed staff giving to those officials’ campaigns, aides said.

Republicans, though, said Curran’s promises are empty because she has taken political donations from county contractors and used public resources for political purposes.

Jack Martins was the first candidate who called for a change in leadership for Nassau County,” E. O’Brien Murray, the political strategist for Martins, the GOP county executive candidate, said in a statement. “Every day Laura Curran reminds Nassau voters she is a hypocrite.”

Curran, who has been endorsed by the Nassau Democratic Committee, faces a three-way primary against state Assemblyman Charles Lavine and county Comptroller George Maragos.

Maragos said Curran’s proposals would be an “ineffective bandaid” and said he would ban all political donations from “county vendors, their families and LLCs.”

“Her plan does nothing to end the pay-to-play corruption culture,” Maragos, a former Republican, said in an email.

Andrew Mulvey, a Lavine campaign spokesman, touted the assemblyman’s experience with ethics reforms in Albany.

“Nassau County needs an executive who has experience fighting for reform,” Mulvey said in a statement.

A Mangano spokesman did not return a request for comment.

Philip Shulman, a Curran campaign spokesman, called Murray’s attacks “false” and said “everyone plays by the same set of rules” when running for office.

When Laura’s elected, she’ll change those rules to limit the influence of money in politics,” Shulman said in a statement.

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