Government

Progressive Coalition protesters decry county's Sandy contracts

Elected leaders ratchet up donations rhetoric

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Protesters from the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a nonprofit social and environmental advocacy group, claimed at a June 4 rally in Mineola that County Executive Ed Mangano received $144,000 in campaign contributions from private companies that did restoration work for the county after Hurricane Sandy.

The coalition based the allegation on an Associated Press report from mid-May that analyzed Mangano’s contributions from contractors that were “hired to cut trees, repair infrastructure and haul debris” for 11 weeks following the storm. According to the report, 23 Sandy contractors donated to Mangano’s campaign in the weeks after they were hired, and many of the companies received no-bid contracts because the county was in a state of emergency.

At noon on June 4, 18 protesters, most from the Progressive Coalition, gathered on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building to decry what they described as Nassau’s “pay-to-play” political system and called for New York state to pass campaign finance reform that would prohibit contributions in exchange for contracts.

“Basically, this is legalized bribery,” said Lisa Tyson of North Bellmore, the Long Island Progressive Coalition’s director. “In a baseball game, if someone gave money to the umpire to call them safe, that would be illegal. We need to make these contributions illegal as well.”

County Legislator Dave Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick, stood with the protesters, saying that Mangano created the “appearance of impropriety” when he accepted campaign donations from companies doing Sandy recovery work. Denenberg also led protesters in chants of, “What do we need? Fair elections! When do we need them? Now!”

County exec reacts

In an email, Brian Nevin, a Mangano spokesman, accused the Progressive Coalition of playing partisan politics. “It’s ironic that this group never protested Tom Suozzi over the eight-year period in which he accepted millions in campaign contributions,” Nevin wrote, referring to Mangano’s predecessor, a Democrat. “However, they randomly decide to attack these contributions, which are lawful and properly reported with the state.”

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