Nassau Democrats: The new corrupt machine 

The Island Now

Since the days of Theodore Roosevelt, Republicans have consistently controlled municipal government in Nassau County. During the 20th century and early 21st centuries,  only two Democrats, Eugene Nickerson and Tom Suozzi were elected Nassau County Executive.

In the Town of Hempstead, Nassau’s largest township,  only two Democrats held the Supervisor’s seat in over 112 years, Girdell Brower and Robert Seabury. Seabury was elected by just 5 votes in 1905. 

Nassau County was so Republican traditionally that it voted against Franklin D. Roosevelt in each of the four Presidential elections he ran in.

Fourteen years later in 1960, even with a large Italian and Irish Catholic population, Vice President Richard Nixon was able to easily carry Nassau County over Democratic Presidential Nominee John F. Kennedy. 

 In a 2011 Politico article entitled, “The Fall of The Nassau Republican Machine And The Rise Of Homeland Security Chair Peter King,” writer Steve Kornacki described the Nassau GOP’s electoral strength and corruption during the lader half of the 20th century. “By the 1980s, 75 percent of the nearly 2,000 Nassau County Republican Committee members were on state, county or town payrolls. Every summer, the county would hire 1,300 seasonal workers — lifeguards and clean-up crews for beaches, mostly.

“It wasn’t written down anywhere, but everyone knew the rule: No Democrats, or children of Democrats, need apply. Someone took a survey: Of the 400 county-owned cabanas at Malibu Beach, only four were leased to Democrats. “The only thing you can liken it to is an army,” Lew Yevoli, a Democratic assemblyman from Long Island, said at the time. ”There is never a break in the ranks. I don’t think Tammany Hall in its heyday had anything like what (Margiotta) has.”

 In the subsequent decades, Republicans would lose much of their control.

In 1981, Nassau County Republican Party Chairman Joseph Margiotta was convicted on federal extortion charges, and in 1999, and in 2001, Democrats made substantial gains in county and town elections.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Democrats for the first time would outnumber Republican voters in a trend that has continued ever since.

As of April 2018, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the county by a margin of 395,000 to 330,000.  By March 2017, four of the counties biggest Republican names had been indicted on federal corruption charges.

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos,  Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, and Hempstead Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino.

 The indictments, changing demographics, and infighting amongst Hempstead Republicans lead to the election of Democrat Laura Gillen as Hempstead town supervisor, and Democrat Laura Curran as Nassau County Executive.

Campaigning to restore honor and integrity back to Hempstead and Nassau County, Gillen and Curran pledged their would be a new day in Nassau County, and the days of patronage and nepotism would be over. 

 Gillen and Curran selected Thomas Garry to lead their transition teams. Garry, the head of the Democratic-connected law firm Harris Beach helped to facilitate loan guarantees between the Town of Oyster Bay and restaurateur Harendrah Singh. 

 RXR, the development company headed by Scott Rechler that is pushing New York City-style development in Nassau County gave $25,000 to Curran’s campaign.

Weeks after Gillen’s surprise upset victory, Rechler contributed $10,000 to Gillen and held a swanky Roslyn fundraiser for Gillen, raising over $100,000 for Gillen’s future re-election campaign.

Upon taking office, Gillen has been fully supportive of all of RXR’s development projects in the town,  including a new stadium for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park in Elmont. Tammie Williams, an Elmont Civic Leader and former Democratic candidate for Hempstead Town Council has been leading the charge against RXR’s development plans in Elmont. 

 When it came to forming a government, Gillen dispensed over $2 Million Dollars in political patronage jobs to Democratic Party apparatchiks.

Jobs included a secretary position for Cheryl Rice, the sister in law of Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, costing taxpayers $100,000.

Another job went to Adam Haber, a multimillionaire commodities trader and twice failed Democratic candidate for the New York State Senate. Haber’s executive assistant job will cost taxpayers $130,000 a year. 

 The most expensive job costing taxpayers $175,000 a year went to Gillen’s Chief of Staff James LaCarrubba, the former Long Beach commissioner of Public Works.

LaCarubba and former City Manager Jack Schnirman, the new Nassau County comptroller who was elected in November 2017 alongside Curran and Gillen left Long Beach in financial ruin and received a $108,000 payout for unused sick and vacation days.

Newsday has subsequently reported that Schnirman was only owed $55,000 and that Long Beach was over $15 Million in debt. 

 Upon taking office, newly elected Democratic County Executive Laura Curran also engaged in patronage, and pay to play culture that plagued prior Republican administrations. In a July, 2018, New York Post article entitled, “Nassau Executive Curran Appoints Scandalized Worker To Parks Job,” The New York Post uncovered that County Executive Curran appointed the brother of a $10,000 Democratic donor to a county parks job, even after previously being fired by the Town of Hempstead for misconduct. 

Perhaps the most troubling act of Curran’s administration thus far has been  securing a job for ex-campaign staffer Mariah Dignan.

Dignan in 2017 was fired by Curran  for making hateful and racist social media posts. The firing was covered by Newsday and the New York Post.

When the press was not looking, Curran secured Dignan another job at the Long Island Federation of Labor, and Dignan  now currently serves as a scheduler  in the Long Island office of Congressman Tom Suozzi.

 In 2018, with Gillen and Curran now in office, and with their  new machine intact, the rank in file in the Nassau Democratic Party was silent when state Sen. John Brooks sought to have African-American community leader Carol Gordon removed from the September Democratic Primary ballot.

Upon review of Gordon’s Democratic nominating petitions, Brooks sought to have African-American senior citizens signatures purged for minor technachalities such as putting an apartment number before an address. 

 With Democrats now the dominant party in the county, and with the continuation of the culture of corruption in the Gillen and Curran administrations,it is safe to say the Nassau Democrats are the “New Corrupt Machine”  and the most corrupt party in the county.

The days of the “ Corrupt Nassau GOP” are over, the Democrats have taken the Republican mantle. 

Adam Sackowitz serves on the Nassau County Conservative Party Committee and holds a Masters Degree in History from New York’s St. John’s University




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