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 Manganoâ€™s contributions from contractors that were â€śhired to cut trees, repair infrastructure and haul debrisâ€ť for 11 weeks following the storm. According to the report, 23 Sandy contractors donated to Manganoâ€™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 Nassauâ€™s â€śpay-to-playâ€ť political system and called for New York state to pass campaign finance reform that would prohibit contributions in exchange for contracts.
â€śBasically, this is legalized bribery,â€ť said Lisa Tyson of North Bellmore, the Long Island Progressive Coalitionâ€™s director. â€śIn 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.â€ť
County Legislator Dave Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick, stood with the protesters, saying that Mangano created the â€śappearance of improprietyâ€ť when he accepted campaign donations from companies doing Sandy recovery work. Denenberg also led protesters in chants of, â€śWhat do we need? Fair elections! When do we need them? Now!â€ť
County exec reacts
In an email, Brian Nevin, a Mangano spokesman, accused the Progressive Coalition of playing partisan politics. â€śItâ€™s ironic that this group never protested Tom Suozzi over the eight-year period in which he accepted millions in campaign contributions,â€ť Nevin wrote, referring to Manganoâ€™s predecessor, a Democrat. â€śHowever, they randomly decide to attack these contributions, which are lawful and properly reported with the state.â€ť