Business moguls and power brokers cut big checks to Nassau County executive candidates Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Edward Mangano (R-Bethpage) in the last weeks of their race, according the final state Board of Election filings.
Mangano, the incumbent, took in $1 million and spent $1.58 million from Oct. 1 through Oct. 21, leaving him with $621,000 for the last two weeks of the race, the filings show. And Suozzi raised $496,000 and spent $1 million, with $472,000 cash-on-hand remaining.
Veteran donors tapped their deep pocketbooks for both candidates, as Mangano tries to fend off a rematch challenge from Suozzi, who he defeated narrowly in 2009.
Renew New York, a political action committee run and funded by former Republican U.S. Sen. and current lobbyist Alfonse D’Amato, contributed $25,000 to Mangano’s campaign. D’Amato, who served as Town of Hempstead supervisor before moving to higher office, is a major political fundraiser, both for Republicans and hand-picked Democrats like U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
D’Amato’s lobbying firm, Park Strategies, was hired by Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner after a group headed by Ratner was selected by the county to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in a competitive bid process.
Ratner’s development group, Nassau Events Center LLC, retained Park Strategies for $15,000 per month in September to lobby the Nassau County Legislature and Mangano’s office on “economic development activities surrounding the re-development of the Nassau Coliseum,”according to the state’s lobbying database.
D’Amato, a long-time power broker in Nassau Republican circles, has a history with the Coliseum property. Initially an ally of New York Islanders’ owner Charles Wang, who is now moving his franchise from the Coliseum to Ratner’s Barclays Center, D’Amato publicly turned against Wang’s “Lighthouse Project” to revamp the Nassau Hub.
The project eventually stalled in the face of zoning opposition from the Town of Hempstead, and according to a 2009 Newsday report, D’Amato made an unsuccessful overture to Wang to hire his brother Armand D’Amato to work on the project – a charge D’Amato denied.
Mangano also raised 75,000 from members of Bonomo family. Anthony Bonomo runs Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a client of D’Amato’s lobbying firm in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when D’Amato personally wrote then-Long Island Power Authority COO Michael Hervey to ask that the utility speed power restoration to PRI.
The losing side of the Coliseum bidding war also got in on the fundraising action. Suozzi raised $75,000 from members of the Dolan family, whose Madison Square Garden Company was the runner-up in the competition to win the Coliseum’s development rights. Suozzi also took in $25,000 from music manager-to-the-stars Irving Azoff, who in September co-launched a music industry venture with James Dolan.
The Dolans also own Cablevision, the parent company of Newsday, and have past ties with Suozzi. Suozzi served as a consultant for Cablevision after narrowly losing the county executive seat to Mangano in 2009 and took in $200,000 in campaign funds from Cablevision-owned limited liability companies this summer.
Mangano also raised major dollars from tax certiorari lawyers and their families, taking in $40,000 from Shalom and Iris Maidenbaum, $25,000 from Ilyse Sternberg – a lawyer at Maidenbaum’s firm – and $36,000 from Sean and Debbie Acosta.
Karen Strom and Michael Schroder, partners in the tax assessment law firm Schroder & Strom, each contributed $5,000, and the Nassau County Republican Committee received a $10,000 boost from industry PAC the Committee for Fair Property Taxes.
Property tax refunds and the alleged political influence of the lawyers who earn fees from residents challenging their assessments have been a hot-button issue in the Suozzi-Mangano race.
Suozzi and ticket-mate Howard Weitzman have alleged that the Mangano administration’s practice of aggressively settling tax refund claims has spiked school tax rates and was enacted to benefit campaign donors. Mangano rejects the allegations, and has said the practice saves the county tens of millions of dollars by avoiding refund liabilities that could add to the county’s debt load.
Suozzi also took in $10,000 from 162-20 77th Road LLC, which is run out of the same Flushing office building as Livingston Development Corp. – a real estate company that has for years been attempting to build a residential complex in Glen Cove, where Suozzi’s cousin Ralph Suozzi is the mayor.
The approval process for that project is ongoing, with the city’s planning commission placing the project’s environmental impact study on the agenda for its meeting earlier this summer.