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Suffolk County DA slush fund?



As part of a settlement of a criminal investigation against questionable fund-raising where there were allegations that government contracts were traded for political contributions, Suffolk County Chief Executive Steve Levy resigned and turned over his more-than-$4 million campaign fund to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office. "Some Levy donors asked for their money back, but not all of his campaign cash has been claimed." The rest goes back to taxpayers, then, right? Not according to DA Thomas Spota, who has been using the proceeds as his own personal slush fund. It's not clear what legislative or constitutional authority permits that sort of spending. It may exist, but I couldn't find it: County Law ยง700(2) implies that the money is to be given to the county treasurer, and not kept within the DA's office to distribute. It's especially questionable if the DA is personally benefiting from a discretionary decision to settle the case given that there are those who believe that Levy escaped serious consequences. A left-wing blog gloats that the disgraced anti-immigration politician is now indirectly funding an immigration rights group, but doesn't raise questions why Spota is allowed to promote his own political career by giving government money to his political allies—isn't that pretty close to what Levy just got prosecuted for? I have an inquiry in to the Suffolk County's office asking for an explanation, and will update if they respond.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.