For the second time in a week’s span, Republican congressional candidate Bruce Blakeman on Aug. 6 appeared outside a state courthouse in Mineola to call for Kathleen Rice, the Nassau County district attorney and his Democratic opponent in this fall’s election, to address allegations that political interference undermined the Moreland Commission, a state anti-corruption panel she co-chaired.
Blakeman’s press conference was similar to one he gave on July 31 at which he said Rice should explain her role at the panel and release emails and other documents from her time there. It came on the heels of a July 23 New York Times story reporting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo interfered with Moreland investigations that touched on his administration or backers. Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has launched an investigation into what transpired at the Moreland Commission, which the governor created in July 2013 and shut down in March, nine months ahead of schedule.
Rice campaign spokesman Eric Phillips has said the DA will not comment on the controversy because of the ongoing federal probe, which he said she is “assisting.”
A notification the Blakeman campaign issued ahead of the Aug. 6 press conference promised “new revelations” about Rice and the Moreland Commission, but the conference was based more on innuendo than substantiated facts.
Blakeman highlighted donations that the leaders of law firm Weitz & Luxenberg and real estate firm Thor Equities made to Rice’s campaigns for district attorney and state attorney general between 2009 and 2013, suggesting that the contributions may have bought the firms special treatment when the Moreland Commission subpoenaed them last year. Perry Weitz, Arthur Luxenberg and their wives gave Rice’s past campaigns a total of $307,197, and Weitz & Luxenberg gave $5,000 to Rice’s DA campaign, state Board of Elections records show. Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, gave $5,000 to Rice’s past campaigns and $2,500 to her current congressional campaign, according to the state board and the Federal Election Commission.