Singas, GOP exchange critcism over constituent mailer on government transparency

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Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas

District Attorney Madeline Singas on Monday criticized a mailer on government transparency sent to constituents last week by Nassau County Legislator Donald MacKenzie (R-Oyster Bay).

“The district attorney has repeatedly called on the Legislature to stop sending mailings which can be construed as political,” said Miriam Sholder, the deputy communications director for Singas.

Matthew Fernando, press secretary for the county Legislature’s Republican majority, responded, “If she can prove what’s politically motivated about it, we would love to know.” 

“It doesn’t say ‘vote for’ and it doesn’t say ‘re-elect,’” he added. “It’s simply informing people about the contracting process in Nassau County. It seems to me she doesn’t want people to know what exactly the contracting process is.”

Singas “has repeatedly called on the county to improve transparency in the contracting process,” Sholder said. “That includes the creation of an independent, nonpartisan inspector general to oversee contracts, which unfortunately has not been adopted yet.”

The mailer, funded by taxpayers, lists “10 levels of scrutiny” that it said “every contract over $1,000 is subject to before tax dollars are spent.” Among the 10 levels of scrutiny that appear on the mailer are the Office of Management and Budget, the county attorney’s office, the county executive and the district attorney.

Our office reviews any contract that we believe may be criminal, but to assert that we review every county contract is false,” Sholder said. 

“We have been working vigilantly to make sure you can have confidence in your local government,” the mailer said. “To achieve the highest level of transparency in all of New York State, I and my fellow members of the Nassau Legislature have reformed the contracting process and maximized the oversight of how Nassau government works.”

MacKenzie was among nine Republican Nassau County legislators who called for the resignation of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano at a news conference on April 3.

Mangano, along with his wife, Linda Mangano, and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, was indicted in October on federal corruption charges involving a bribery and kickback scheme with a previously indicted restaurateur.

“What happened with the county executive and the press conference calling for his resignation didn’t have much to do with our contracting mailer,” Fernando said.

“We are informing the public about things that have happened in legislative procedure,” Fernando added. “Because they don’t fit in with the rhetoric Democrats have, they seem to be taking issue with it.”

In October 2015, Singas, then the acting district attorney, asked for an investigation by federal prosecutors into taxpayer-funded mailers sent by MacKenzie that claimed county legislators did not raise property taxes over the preceding five years, despite a rise in 2015.

At the time, MacKenzie was in a race for the 18th District legislative seat against Democratic candidate Dean Hart, an Oyster Bay optometrist, who said at the time the mailer was “a waste of taxpayer money.”

The 18th District includes East Hills, Roslyn Heights, Greenvale, Glen Cove, Bayville, East Norwich, Glen Head, Old Westbury, Mill Neck, Locust Valley, Muttontown, Jericho, Syosset and Woodbury.

MacKenzie, who is serving his second term in the Legislature, is up for re-election this fall.

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