Demand to Suspend all Contracts or enact a ‘Voluntary Procurement Disclosure Policy’

After Kevan Abrahams and Democratic Minority Legislative Caucus called for Moratorium on voting for any more County Contracts on Monday, May 4 called for a Public Hearing on the AbTech Contact last week and filed a Disclosure Bill more than two weeks ago; Abrahams says, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – County Executive, suspend all contracts or begin a ‘Voluntary Procurement Disclosure Policy’ that requires each County Department participate immediately.”

MINEOLA, NY (TIP): Since news broke a few weeks ago that Senator Dean Skelos and his son Adam Skelos were accused of using undue influence to corrupt the County contracting process and extort, bribe money from a County vendor, Nassau Democratic Legislators have taken steps to try to remedy the clear lack of disclosure that would protect taxpayers from more waste, fraud and abuse of the system while Republican Legislators have remained silent.

It began more than two weeks ago in the wake of allegations that were cited in the April 16th New York Times article, ‘Dean Skelos, New York Senate Leader, and His Son Are Said to Be Focus of Corruption Inquiry’, that the Nassau County Democratic Legislators began taking bold steps to remedy a broken system here in Nassau County Government. “We started by filing a disclosure law, because it seemed absolutely evident that there was a void in the county procurement process and tax payers weren’t being protected enough from future fraud, unless we immediately began instituting a new, more stringent disclosure process” said Democratic Legislative Leader Kevan Abrahams.

After filing the Disclosure Bill, Abrahams followed up a week later by writing a letter to Nassau County Republican Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves calling upon her to “schedule a public hearing into the AbTech matter” and noting that still both the County Executive’s lobbyist registration bill and the Democrats bill calling for ‘complete disclosure of all outside influences in the contracting process’ had yet been added to the agenda of this past Monday’slegislative committee meeting.

Then on Monday, May 4th Kevan Abrahams and the Nassau County Democratic Legislative Caucus pressed their Republican colleagues to join them in a moratorium and halt all contract votes until the County adopts policies that protect taxpayers from inside deals. Shockingly, after a more than ten minute debate on the floor of the Legislature, the Republican Caucus, led by Norma Gonsalves, refused and went along voting in millions of dollars of contracts without any further disclosure being taken.

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“Our first priority is to protect the taxpayers and it is reckless to just act like its business as usual.” said Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams. “We have a 43 page complaint from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filled with disturbing allegations of official corruption in Nassau’s procurement process including transcripts of wiretapped communications between Skelos and the County officials carrying out the influence peddling scheme and still Republican Legislators think we should just continue to vote on millions dollars of contracts without adopting any new procedure that would demand more transparency and disclosure. That is reckless, and tax payers deserve better!” exclaimed Abrahams.

Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams stated last Monday’s Legislative Rules Committee Meeting; “It will be unfortunate and sad in light of what we know from last week and in light of what we’ve heard in the last few hours for us to vote on contracts”. Unfortunately, Republican Legislators still did vote in millions of dollars of contracts, and now the Democratic Leader Kevan Abrahams is asking for a suspension of all contracts unless County Executive Ed Mangano uses his executive power to enact a ‘Voluntary Procurement Disclosure Policy’ that would immediately force each county department and their supervisors to participate in immediately.

In a letter sent to County Executive Ed Mangano today, Leader Abrahams writes: “As you must agree, this inertia is unacceptable. Action is needed now before additional contracts are pushed through the legislative process. Presumably, your proposed lobbying registry bill was not filed merely for public consumption. You can demonstrate your sincere commitment to transparency by issuing an executive order, effective immediately, requiring your department to comply with the disclosure requirements in our bill. The Contract Lobbying Disclosure law strengthens the requirements of your registry by providing the Legislature with the full transparency it needs at the time contracts actually come up for approval. It also focuses the reform measures where they are most sorely needed – on procurement. We cannot have another Ab Tech in the future. The power and responsibility to prevent such a scandal now lies entirely in your hands”

Democratic Minority Caucus filed a Contract Disclosure Law nearly two weeks ago that has yet to be brought to the floor by the Nassau County Legislative Republican Majority. County Executive Ed Mangano also filed a law that would require lobbyists to register and disclose their business quarterly. No legislative action by the Presiding Officer has been taken on either bill. “This is about getting the County back to doing business the right way and protecting taxpayers from further fraud that leads to wasteful spending but it’s also about bringing integrity and public confidence back to our great county and we cannot do that without seriously changing the system. I hope County Executive Mangano agrees and joins me in this effort” concluded Democratic Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams.

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