Nassau Dem Chair Calls Independence Party ‘Corrupt’

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In a letter to the New York State Democratic Committee, Nassau Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs calls on gubernatorial candidates to not accept the Independence Party’s ...

Nassau County, NY - March 11, 2014 - Citing a long history of corruption and misuse of political influence, Nassau County Democratic Committee Chair and former New York State Democratic Party Chair Jay S. Jacobs called upon the Democratic and Republic nominee for governor to reject Independence Party’s nomination and thereby force it to lose the ballot position that gives the party its oversized and undue clout.

In a letter on Monday written to the co-chairs of the New York State Democratic Committee, Mayor Stephanie Minor and Assemblyman Keith Wright, and circulated around the state, Jacobs accuses the Independence Party of wielding unwarranted power, directing money to line its leaders’ pockets and threatening free and fair elections in the state.

“The fact that the Independence Party genuinely stands for nothing, supports virtually no political activity and appears to exist only for the financial benefit of its leadership, while distasteful, does not necessarily lead us to take action against it. It is the corrupt activities by its leadership that, I believe, have crossed that line,” Jacobs wrote in the letter. “Dealing with this corrupt party requires no change in the law – only political courage. I urge the State Committee to work toward an agreement whereby the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor mutually and jointly agree that they will not accept the Independence Party’s nomination.”

While the Conservative, Working Families and Green parties represent clear political viewpoints, Jacobs argues in his letter that the Independence Party does not. Instead, the party only exists for the financial and political benefit of its formal and informal leadership. In Nassau, the party is run by Rick Bellando, who was selected by State Chair, Frank MacKay. Bellando is an employee of Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle, a hotel and catering facility in Suffolk County.

Among the charges cited in the letter:

  • More than 80% of the $183,577 spent went directly to Oheka Castle, Bellando and MacKay. Of the monies spent, only 3.45% went toward any political activities.
  • The Party used its political influence to unduly intimidate a witness in a political case involving a minor party's petition in Nassau County.
  • That a judge closely connected with MacKay delivered a ruling favorable to Melius in a case that benefited him financially.
  • The Moreland Commissioner has cited the Independence Party as one of the more egregious examples of political spending practices.

As many editorial boards have already stated, all it would take to stop this corruption would be for candidates to not accept their ballot line, thereby denying the 50,000 votes it takes to keep it during the next election, the letter says. It goes on to say that it hopes both Democrats and Republicans can agree to work on this worthy goal together.

“We need to ask ourselves this simple question: Is this a party that honest candidates genuinely committed to ethics in government want to associate themselves with?” Jacobs wrote.

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