Legislature votes to enhance oversight on county real estate transactions

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Republican officials called on Nassau County Executive Laura Curran to return a $20,000 campaign donation from the chairwoman of the Sands Point Preserve on Monday. (Photo courtesy of the county executive's office)

The Nassau County Legislature approved a bill on Monday that requires individuals who reside or work at historic homes and county-owned properties to disclose political campaign contributions.

The 19-0 vote will increase oversight on county real estate deals. The vote came at a time when Republican lawmakers called on Nassau County Executive Laura Curran to return a $20,000 donation made by Karli Hagedorn, the chairwoman of the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, earlier this year.

According to Newsday, which obtained state campaign filing records, Hagedorn donated the funds to Curran’s campaign on Jan. 11, the same day the Legislature approved a special use and occupancy permit for her and her husband for the Mille Fleurs mansion in Sands Point.

Smith & DeGroat of Mineola, the real estate team that oversees the county’s historic properties, is currently required to disclose campaign donations, but the actual permit holders for specific properties are not required to, according to a county disclosure law passed in 2016.

Karli Hagedorn, in a phone interview with Blank Slate Media, said she and her husband were used to providing contributions on the last day that filings were due. The deadline for the January 2021 periodic filing calendar did occur on Jan. 11, according to the state Board of Elections.

Hagedorn, who has served as the conservancy’s chairwoman since 2009, said that the timing of the contribution had no correlation with the Legislature’s permit approval for the Sands Point property. 

“How the timing coincidence happened, I truly couldn’t tell you,” she said. “I was proud to support her and to vote for her. There is absolutely no relationship there.”

Hagedorn said she and county officials were in talks to obtain permits to help preserve the mansion nearly three years ago, and did not keep constant monitors on the approval process. She said she was concerned about the county allowing renters to use the property for increased income, risking the integrity of the mansion’s historical traits and features.

Hagedorn said she and her husband have donated to campaigns of people in both political parties. Records analyzed by Newsday showed that Karli Hagedorn has contributed $70,000 to Curran’s campaign since 2017 after donating $25,000 to former Nassau County Executive and Republican Edward Mangano’s campaign in 2013.

Records analyzed by Newsday also showed her husband, James Hagedorn, has contributed $50,000 to the Curran campaign since 2017, along with another $50,000 to the Hicksville Republican Committee and $1,500 to the Mangano campaign in 2012.

“It is unfortunate for Laura Curran that [the Republican legislators] are making something of this. It doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

For the last 15 years this property has been a solid revenue generator that has helped the County offset expenses that would otherwise fall onto taxpayers,” Michael Fricchione, a spokesman for Curran, said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “The County Executive does not play any role in selecting permit holders and finds it unfortunate that Republican Legislators are focused on playing politics instead of getting our residents vaccinated and businesses back to normal.”

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