JUNE 22, 2006
A popular Democrat candidate for New York governor is in hot water for taking large campaign contributions from companies that he helped secure lucrative public contracts as Nassau County Executive.
An elected Executive runs the daily operations of a county and is largely responsible for securing business contracts. Tom Suozzi was the mayor of Glen Cove when he first ran for Nassau County Executive in 2000. Last year he was re-elected and now he wants to be the state’s governor.
He is campaigning as a reformer who will cleanse government of special interests, yet he’s not so squeaky clean himself. A nonprofit group has published a damaging 15-page report detailing Suozzi’s hefty political contributions from companies that received more than $100 million of taxpayer money via Nassau County contracts.
The report, called “Pay to Play in Nassau County”, identifies 55 businesses that received county contracts, many within a short time of making a campaign contribution to Suozzi.
From 2001 through 2005, his Friends of Tom Suozzi fund received at least $210,760 in donations from those companies, which were awarded a total of $111 million in county contracts. A lot of Suozzi’s donations came within three months of when the public contracts were awarded.
Major donors include Cablevision Systems, which did $336,000 of county work from 2001 to 2005 and whose political committee gave Suozzi’s campaign $34,760; Smith and Salerno Valuation Services, which had $2.8 million in contracts and gave $19,250 in political contributions; and Hawkeye Construction, which had $8.2 million in contracts and gave $15,000 to the campaign.
This isn’t the first time Souzzi engages in questionable fundraising. In 2004 his campaign received around $150,000 in donations from real estate companies and consultants that got lucrative tax and financing benefits from the county for their involvement in a multi-million dollar project. Among them was a lawyer buddy from Suozzi’s hometown who gave him more than $34,000 after securing a no-bid contract of $766,287 to do legal work for various county agencies.
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