George Maragos leads Dems in county exec cash race

George Maragos leads Dems in county exec cash race
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is seen in September 2016. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

George Maragos’ loans to his own campaign give him a hefty cash advantage among the four Democrats running for Nassau County executive, according to campaign finance reports filed last week.

Maragos, the formerly Republican county comptroller, had more than $1.5 million on hand after loaning his campaign $450,000 Jan. 6 on top of a $1 million loan from July, according to his report of campaign income and expenses since July 1.

But Maragos got just $54,108 in cash from outside donors, far less than the other Democratic candidates to replace incumbent Republican Edward Mangano — county Legislator Laura Curran of Baldwin, state Assemblyman Charles Lavine of Glen Cove and Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman.

He also received $9,947 in in-kind donations.

Maragos, an entrepreneur who was first elected comptroller in 2009, switched parties in September and has since become a more vocal critic of Mangano, who was indicted in October on federal corruption charges.

The relatively small amount of money from individuals, corporations and political committees could indicate Maragos’ struggle to find footing in his new party.

But Hank Sheinkopf, Maragos’ head political strategist, said the filings show “a clear indication of [Maragos’] personal commitment to the voters of Nassau County.”

Curran collected $201,705 from outside donors during the six-month period, the most among Democrats, followed by Schnirman with $181,352 and Lavine with $150,474.

Curran transferred $37,500 from her county legislature campaign fund and also received $10,150 from her husband, John Curran, her report shows.

She had $230,325 on hand after spending $21,312, including more than $11,000 to political consultant Tucker Green, who previously worked for Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice’s Nassau district attorney campaigns.

“The overwhelming support I’ve received from our neighbors in just a few short weeks has made it clear: taxpayers are demanding an end to the culture of corruption that for too long has dominated Nassau County,” Curran said in a statement.

Schnirman has yet to formally declare his candidacy, but his exploratory committee, “Nassau Forward,” closed the period with $178,686.

He got $30,500 from corporations and $143,452 from individuals, the highest amount in those categories among the Democrats. Some $2,500 came from from Janice Goldfinger, the wife of actor and Long Beach native Billy Crystal.

Schnirman was the only candidate not to give his campaign any cash or loans or transfer funds from a previous campaign.

“The early support and encouragement is incredible,” and it’s apparent that many agree with me that we need fresh, new leadership to move Nassau forward,” Schnirman said in a statement.

Lavine received $137,824 from individuals and transferred $57,000 from his Assembly campaign fund, closing the period with $204,239 on hand.

Lavine’s largest donations were two contributions totaling $36,000 from Bryan H. Lawrence, the founder of the venture capital firm Yorktown Partners, and his wife, Dr. Betsy Lawrence.

The campaign finance filings “demonstrated that each of us is very serious about this campaign,” Lavine said in an interview.

The transfer mostly emptied Lavine’s Assembly campaign fund, which now has $31.06. But Lavine said he does not doubt he could build up a war chest again if he runs for re-election to the Assembly in 2018.

Mangano has yet to announce whether he will seek a third term, but he closed the fundraising period with about $1.2 million on hand after raising $267,653 and spending $336,094.

The bulk of that spending was a $200,000 payment to Kevin Keating, the lawyer representing Mangano in federal court as he defends himself against criminal charges stemming from an alleged bribe and kickback scheme with Harendra Singh, a restaurateur and close friend of Mangano’s.

Mangano’s wife, Linda, was also charged in the scheme. Both have pleaded not guilty.

In a statement, Mangano said, “The justice system is costly for one to prove their innocence and I am reviewing reforms so those with less resources have fair access to counsel.”

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