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Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Nassau Herald and Manufactured News

This article, published yesterday in the Nassau Herald, is quite intriguing. The Herald reports on what they claim are examples of campaign finance improprieties on the part of the winning school board candidates. They suggest that there is a clear case of significant wrongdoing by Uri Kaufman and Michael Hatten, because there was, apparently, unreported money spent for campaign expenses by persons unknown to the candidates. The article even quotes a statute from the election regulations of the Ny State Education Department. Sounds ironclad. Too bad it's completely untrue.

Aparently, Kaufman and Hatten claim to have no idea of the identity of various anonymous benefactors who paid for ads and other campaign materials. And the Herald references a section of the election law to make a case that there's some illegality on the part of the candidates due to that situation. But that simply isn't in the election law. This is the relevant clause:
No person or persons shall make expenditures on behalf of a candidate without his or her approval unless such person or persons files a sworn statement with the clerk and commissioner stating that the candidate did not approve such expenditure.
Well, it seems very clear from the statute that the onus falls on the part of the person making the expenditures to make the disclosure. It does NOT name any consequenses NOR any responsibility on the part of the candidate to uncover said person's identity. Yet, the Herald somehow writes a full story alleging wrongdoing,

The article quotes the opinion of the district clerk on the matter - though her opinion does not seem to be rooted in any way in the actual election regulations:
According to Lawrence district clerk Alice Laino, candidates are supposed to uncover who paid for campaign expenses on their behalf and report to her.
They are "supposed to"? According to who? Her? Evidently - because it sure isn't consistent with what is written in the actual regulations.

The Herald even uses this pathetic and poorly sourced piece to give the losing candidate a handy little platform to disparage and mudsling his opponents one last time:
Brooks said Hatten and Kaufman are not being up front with how their campaigns were funded, which is similar to how they were dishonest about pre-election issues such as District 15 busing being eliminated for private school students if the public school candidates were elected. "When you lie about one thing, you are capable of lying about another," said Brooks. "When you lie to your own constituents, there is something completely wrong."
Can you believe? What proof does Brooks have to support his allegations of dishonesty? That is a pretty serious and inflammatory statement to make, not to mention making Brooks sound like quite the sore loser.

Maybe the Herald should start to do some actual reporting, instead of publishing (erroneous) conjecture masquerading as fact.

41 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the most reprehensible part of the article is the position taken by Alice Laino. She seems to have an agenda of her own, which is clearly not befitting of an individual in her position.

She seems to have a nack for making up laws when it serves her interest (or those of Fitzsimons).

This was an issue on election day too, when she waffled on various voting rules throughout the day and then led a campaign to disqualify a group of students (with a certain common political persuation) who were clearly residents and legitimately registered voters.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Goy Guy said...

"No person or persons shall make expenditures on behalf of a candidate without his or her approval unless such person or persons files a sworn statement with the clerk and commissioner stating that the candidate did not approve such expenditure."

Clearly the people who paid for the ads without the permission of the candidates are in violation of the law, if that is in fact what the law is. This in itself should provide more than enough distraction from the real issues and work of the board. These people have done no favors for the children of the community or the candidates they supported by violating the law.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! Forget the false statements in the affidavits. Forget the fantasy that the campaign cost $2,008.00. Forget the claim that Hatten and Kaufman now claim they have no idea who purchased those lawn signs - oh, there were lawn signs? Lets focus on Alice Laino instead.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

Well, it's clear that Alice Laino made up the law (whether or not she did it to further some agenda). It also seems like some individuals may have violated this law, but they are not public officials, are not elected, it is not their job to know the law, and given the fact that this is a recently enacted law, it's understandable that that they weren't aware of it.

There is no reason to assume that Hatten and Kaufman knew or know who paid for campaign materials. The Orthodox community has been largely outraged for a long time at the behavior of the previous school board majority, and it's not surprising that people would contribute money without recognition from the candidates or quid pro quo commitments.

So it seems that some individuals financed campaign materials for the candidates without realizing that they were supposed to file with the clerk. How is that oversight so blameworthy? Is there any reason to believe that they deliberately were not disclosing their contributions? What reason would they have to care?

So who really cares about negligible wrongdoing by some private individuals in the community. How would the state respond if they actually cared? They'd probably just ask these individuals to file affidavits after the fact.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who cares about negligible wrongdoing? Shouldn't we all care about not being lied to by public officials? Should School Board Members file affidavits pursuant to the Education Law without bothering to ascertain who put out all that campaign material in their behalf because "who will care"? Doing things right is its own reward; doing things wrong because "who cares" ... is just plain wrong. Sorta like swearing to a false statement. You just shouldn't do it.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

You're either completely obtuse or your deliberately skirting the issue. The point is that there was no wrongdoing by Hatten or Kaufman. The only legitimate claim is againt some unidentified private individuals who were likely not aware of the requirement. So once again, if there was no wrongdoing by Hatten or Kaufman, then who really cares?

2:10 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Not that I know a tremendous amount about election law, but there is certainly a distinction between what is spent by the actual candidates and what is spent by independent outsiders on their behalf (this used to be called soft money). I'd bet that the $2,008 figure is the expenditure of the actual candidates.

Question for those making an issue out of this: What conceivable motive would Mr. Hatten have for lying about the cost of the campaign? Furthermore, if he was intentionally trying to cover something up - why would he do it in a manner that would be so easily caught?

2:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatten and Kaufman knew someone was running a campaign on their behalf. Knew someone was spending a lot of money in their behalf. Knew they had a legal duty to disclose who gave the money and where it went. Chose not to disclose, or in your world, chose not to find out who was giving this money, but either way pretended the campaign did not exist when they lied and said the expenses were 8 dollars and 2000 dollars. Note neither one mentioned the massive campaign run in their names on their disclosure forms, even to state "Don't know who spent all that money but it was not approved by me." I'm not obtuse, I'm not "skirting the issue" what I am is sickened.

2:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still missing the point and making up the law. The law (Section 1528) is quite clear on their responsibilities. You're entitled not to believe that they did not approve of any expenditures, but taking their assertions for face value, their actions did not violate the law.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

I don't understand what the point of all this is. It has absolutely no bearing on any of the real issues, whether unidentified individuals from the community neglected to file forms with the district clerk.

If you want to pick on Kaufman or Hatten, just fault them for their remarks at the school board meeting, or at least look up the campaign finance law and then try to legitimize the claim agains them

2:27 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Far be it for me to get involved in Nassau County education elections but your explanation is exactly how Sharon and Barak got off the hook when they were investigated for election-spending wrongdoings.

3:22 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

This is a ridiculous discussion. The Herald, or whoever planted this article with them, is clearly on a witch hunt. First of all, these are election regulations, and calling them laws is a bit of an overstatement. There would certainly be no legal ramifications for the candidates even if they had violated the regulation - which they didn't.

And anon who is attempting to make hay out of this, would you be happier with a candidate like Brooks? A man who calls his opponent a liar with no basis whatsoever? He is clearly a nasty person, and I, for one, am happy not to have him sitting on the board. Talk about inflaming the issues.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Education Law 1528 is a New York State statute, not a "regulation." So is that pesky one about swearing out false affidavits. No one wants to make "hay" out of this. Its a community tragedy and embarrassment.

8:40 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

Education Law 1528 is a New York State statute, not a "regulation." So is that pesky one about swearing out false affidavits. No one wants to make "hay" out of this. Its a community tragedy and embarrassment.


A "tragedy"? Come on. There isw no proof whatsoever that any of the candidates knew who was spending money on them, nor is there any regulation or statute that makes it their responsibilty if someone else does so. This is a witch hunt, plain and simple.

8:50 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

About that "false" affidavit you are addressing, here is the relevant law:

however such candidate shall file with the clerk of the school district a sworn statement to the effect that his or her election expenditures did not exceed five hundred dollars and contributions received did not exceed five hundred dollars.

It seems to me that Hatten and Kaufman swore just that. They swore in an affidavit that their
expenditures were a certain amount, and that they did not receive any contributions for more than that. There is a difference between contributions, which are given to the candidate's campaign, and expenditures made by a third unknown party on their behalf.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brooks looks like a bigger baby then even Al Gore. For crying out loud, you lost. And we are not talking about the presidency here, we are talking school board elections here people.
Get a Life!!!

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Brooks wont cry again from my comments. boo hoo

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" First of all, these are election regulations, and calling them laws is a bit of an overstatement. There would certainly be no legal ramifications for the candidates even if they had violated the regulation - which they didn't. "

OM, do your homework. These are laws on the books not friendly reminders. And if they were regulations (they are not) they would be just as binding.

"They swore in an affidavit that their
expenditures were a certain amount, and that they did not receive any contributions for more than that. There "

I never saw the affidavits but if they knew people were spending money on their behalf, and they knew who these people were, they should have disclosed. Hatten sounds like a complete fool in the article where he claims that he didn't know who was helping. I don't think this is a big deal, but if the shoe was on the other foot...

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are laws on the books not friendly reminders. And if they were regulations (they are not) they would be just as binding.

And the difference is what? Either way, these are technicalities with no legal ramifactions. Which is exactly the point of the post. Much ado about nothing.

I never saw the affidavits but if they knew people were spending money on their behalf, and they knew who these people were, they should have disclosed.

Wrong. The law only requires disclosure if the candidate approves the expenditure. There is no indication from the article that the candidates knew who they were. Let alone that they approved their expenditures.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe that anyone reading this article could believe that Hatten only spent $8! Just because you voted for him and you are on a certain "side" you do have a brain, don't you? How naive could anyone be? There is no way he could have spent just $8 and that he did not know anyone who contributed money? I don't believe for one second that any candidate, be it Brooks or Hatten, no matter what side you might be on, could think that the communtiy would believe such nonsense! How could he not know the people who contributed? (e.g his signs alone!!). Please, stop putting your heads in the sand, like you say that Hatten may have done. COME ON, GET REAL!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Anon 4:02 - No takers earlier, so I'll pose the question again - what possible motive would Hatten have to lie about this, and why would he lie so ineptly? Is there any reason at all not to chalk this up (if there is a violation at all) to an honest mistake in complying with the law. Nothing else makes any sense - unless you have a theory to share?

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no way he could have spent just $8 and that he did not know anyone who contributed money?

If rizzo only spend $87, why is it so hard to believe that Hatten spend only $8?

There's no denying that other people spent money to get him elected, but given the community's outrage at the ALPS/LTA school board, it is quite plausible that people spent money without his knowledge. It is also quite possible that he wasn't that personally involved in the campaign - so why would anyone assume that he was involved raising money?

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hatten was not involved in the campaign at all. He stuck to himself, and did his own thing. Sure, maybe the private school campaign used him as their poster boy, but thats not his fault or his problem, except for the fact that Herald is trying to make it his problem.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it me, or objectively speaking, we really did not have many choices this year. It did not matter what side your on. Last year the same. Rose Harris really cared about our children, and lost by very few votes, instead we got a candidate who abstains from every vote and another who had to hand out fliers that said vote for me or we will do away with busing. Anyone with half a brain knows, you need a community vote. We need some intellegent women up there with Ms. Greenbaum, at least when there is a mistake in spending we can just say oops, and I would probably believe them.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if he was not involved in the campaign at all...does it mean he will not be involved in decision making by the BOARD...one could only wish for this to happen.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could it be that they did not disclose where the money came from - because the Rabbis do not want anyone to know???

Just like they claimed to be impartial- yet one held a luncheon for 30 some odd orthos and had Mr Hatten there to speak! And that is just one occasion that slipped out...

I guess the letter signed by a bunch of them that the papers published was false also.

Who says Rizzo is lying about the quote?
Did none of You hear that - becaue there were flyers confiscated that said the buses were going to be pulled!

Which- by the way- cannot be done.
A referendum would have to be voted upon- and we all know how that would turn out.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who bothers to listen to Mr Hatten- might have noticed that he always mentions the taxpayers BEFORE the children!!!

Scary!

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Who says Rizzo is lying about the quote?
Did none of You hear that - becaue there were flyers confiscated that said the buses were going to be pulled!


Care to give some proof? because I have heard nothing about that, and I certainly have my proverbial "ear to the ground". Want to show the flyers? According to everyone who I spoke with, this was nothing but a rumor.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You give yourselves far too much aggrivation worrying about all of this. Maybe you should have woken up before the election.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"

if he was not involved in the campaign at all...does it mean he will not be involved in decision making by the BOARD...one could only wish for this to happen. "

OM, the rudeness from one side has gotten really out of hand. Maybe you should give one of your little speeches about hostility and how it will get us nowhere. I have seen the rhetoric from the public school community only getting more and more heated here. They are obviously angry about their candidates losingthe election but many of the ones who comment here are getting out of hand. The stereotypoing and negative portrayals of "the orthos" is upsetting to me, a longtime Lawrence resident.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Goy Guy said...

7:08pm "Could it be that they did not disclose where the money came from - because the Rabbis do not want anyone to know???"

The "Rabbis"? Please enlighten us. Is this some secret underground group that secretly controls the Orthodox community? Kind of like the freemasons or opus dei?

If so they are doing a crappy job. They can't even get everyone to agree on what shul to use.

Where do you think the money came from? We're talking a piddling few grand here. This isn't really the kind of cash that needs a major league funding effort to come up with. If Mr Hatten and his running mate cozied up to the LTA they would have gotten the dough in one check ;-)

To me the problem isn't where did the money come from. There are two big problems for the community and the school board here.

First of all, it would appear that whether or not they knew where the money came from, it's not their legal obligation to report it if they didn't authorize it. They did however have a political obligation to the people that voted for them to demand that these illegal activities on their behalf be halted. They now look like a couple of dupes that are the unwitting pawns of an inept political machine.

Secondly, here the district sits with an austerity budget, irate taxpayers, kids in need of an education, name calling, dirty union politics, a revolving door of district officials and a whole lot of hard work ahead. And thanks to the "concerned citizens" who illegally paid for these campaign materials, the two new school board members are indirectly involved in this campaign finance issue by virtue of being the actual candidates. I think these guys have jobs and families and LIVES outside the school board, so this can only distract them from the limited time they have for the work at hand.

Anyone who supported these candidates, or is behind them now, or cares about the kids should be calling for the heads of these dopes that put up this money. Their failure to understand, or total disregard for, the campaign finance laws has only helped to undermine the positions of their own candidates before they even had a chance to do anything to make any enemies.

The sooner these people are exposed, and issue apologies to the community and the school board, make it clear that the candidates did not arrainge this, and take their medicine like a man, the sooner the community can direct their full attention to the children.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hatten and Kaufman clearly had a responsibility to find out out who spent money on their campaigns and for them to say otheriwise is ludicrous. So if the Nazi party gave to their campaign they wouldn't care? Give me a break. So instead of just admitting they should have tried harder to uncover where all the money came from, they have to use hate tactics on a woman who has served district 15 with class for many years, Alice Laino. If they dare try and fire her I hope there is major outrage!

6:39 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...


Anyone who supported these candidates, or is behind them now, or cares about the kids should be calling for the heads of these dopes that put up this money. Their failure to understand, or total disregard for, the campaign finance laws has only helped to undermine the positions of their own candidates before they even had a chance to do anything to make any enemies.


You're missing the point. No one really cares. The candidates did nothing wrong and it's completely understandable that the contributors did not report their expenditures, given that these laws are relatively new and very few people were aware of them until this article was published.

And whose positions are undermined? Did they lose their voting power merely because you maintain that they violated the spirit of virtually unknown law?

9:54 PM  
Blogger Goy Guy said...

Anonymous said...

"they have to use hate tactics on a woman who has served district 15 with class for many years, Alice Laino. If they dare try and fire her I hope there is major outrage!"

I don't know who you mean by "they", but I ALSO don't see what Alice Laino really has to do with this. Once a year she collects a few forms, faxes them off to some black hole in Albany, and files them away. I really doubt it's her job to enforce state campaign finance laws, so it's not suprising she doesn't know them all that well. Although by NOW I'll bet she does ;-)




Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

"You're missing the point. No one really cares. The candidates did nothing wrong and it's completely understandable that the contributors did not report their expenditures, given that these laws are relatively new and very few people were aware of them until this article was published.

And whose positions are undermined? Did they lose their voting power merely because you maintain that they violated the spirit of virtually unknown law?"

Lets be honest here.

To say that any adult who's smart enough to have enough disposable income to spend on this kind of thing doesn't know that there are campaign finance laws is ridiculous. Stories about people getting jammed up for this kind of thing fill the papers every week. It's probably the most common reason for the legal troubles of politicians and their supporters. Apparantly Mr Hatten and Mr Kaufman had no trouble learning and following the laws. Virtually unknown law? GIVE US A BREAK!

I don't maintain that the candidates violated any laws. Their 'supporters' did. The candidates did nothing wrong that I can see, but being associated with this, just on the fringes doesn't do them any favors.

Their voting power has nothing to do with it. They are politicians now, with constituents, and they will want the support of as much of the community as possible. How does the behavior of their supporters enhance their position in the eyes of those residents with a "let's wait and see/give them a chance" attitude?

10:18 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

This is stupidity. Whoever "tipped" the Herald off about this made them look really stupid - especially for making up the law or "misquoting" Alice Laino.

Debate the issues if you want but let's face it, you're not going to get much traction by criticizing some unknown people who violated an unknown campaign law. There was no reason for them to hide their contributions, and they would have filed them had they been familiar with this requirement.

It's interesting though how the LTA contribution came out in the press, through this process. It was the first campaign that the union didn't run ads in support of the candidates (ostensibly because of the perceived conflict), but they still contributed a substantial amount.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

be happier with a candidate like Brooks? A man who calls his opponent a liar with no basis whatsoever

No having Mr.Kaufman, is far better. Making faces during meetings,talking to himself, cursing under his breath loud enough for those in the front to hear. Then getting up and yelling like a lunatic so that security has to be asked to remove him, that is far better, I feel far more comfortable with somone who has a short fuse, and could benefit with a good dosage of depakote,. I can't complain about Mr. Hattan, as all I have heard hime say he has been an educator for 30 years, and the word uncontionable. Sounding like a baby is not an attractive trait, but a man who gives his time to little league, and other organizations, and actually does not need anti psychotics, sounds good to me

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Goy Guy said...

Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

"some unknown people who violated an unknown campaign law. There was no reason for them to hide their contributions, and they would have filed them had they been familiar with this requirement."

First of all neither the people nor the law are unknown. Maybe the people are unknown to most of us, but they certainly aren't unknown to the newspapers that cashed their checks.

They have every reason to hide their contributions. Actually it's really not fair to call them contributions, is it? That implies that this was money handled by the candidates campaign funds, which according to their sworn statements isn't the case. The law calls them expenditures. In this case illegal expenditures, since expenditures made without the candidates permission are limited by the law to $25. (Orthomom omitted that sentence when she quoted the law in her post) I'm pretty sure an ad in the Nassau Herald costs more than $25. The fact that they weren't reported makes me think that they were quite familiar with the law. Would you file a sworn statement stating that you were breaking the law?

Also...

"Whoever "tipped" the Herald off about this"

Tipped the Herald? They have published the spending figures after past elections. I'm sure they simply went down and asked for them. Even the most inexperienced reporter would have questioned the $8 after seeing all the ads that ran in his OWN newspaper.

Ironically, by saying "tipped" you are implying yourself that there was something to be found :-)

2:19 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...


Tipped the Herald? They have published the spending figures after past elections. I'm sure they simply went down and asked for them. Even the most inexperienced reporter would have questioned the $8 after seeing all the ads that ran in his OWN newspaper.


The Herald has never done this before. In fact, the law was only enacted less than 2 years ago. If they had published this information before, then you would be correct - and the law would not be virtually unknown.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spirit and Goy, you both have your facts wrong.

The 2004 law was actually an amendment to pre-existing law. Pre-existing law always included:
-the requirement that candidates file statements setting forth contributions and expenditures made on their behalf (which they approved)
-the requirement that persons who made expenditures not approved by the candidate to file a statement saying as much
-limited non-approved expenditures to $25.
The change in the law merely expanded the candidates' disclosure statement to set forth the identity of the contributors.
Thus the excuse that this is a "new law" is nonsense, but this doesn't change the bottom line that the Herald muffed it up and that this really is a nonissue. Nothing that occured here indicates that Hatten or Kaufman violated any law because there is simply nothing to indicate that they "approved" the expenditures made on their behalf. The Herald article suggests that Hatten and Kaufman had some sort of duty to track down their funders. As orthomom points out, that is simply not the law.

That being said, the funders failed to comply with the law both by making unapproved expenditures in excess of $25 and by not filing a disclosure statement.

However, it should be noted that there is simply no penalty for non-compliance, nor is there even a procedure to compel the filing of the disclosure. See Georgia v. Committee for a Responsible School Bd. 101 Misc.2d 630 (NY Sup 1979).

6:40 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

Anon, Thanks for clarifying.
I think we can all agree it's a good thing that the law was brought to everyone's attention so we can rest assured none of this will happen again.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Goy Guy said...

Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

"I think we can all agree it's a good thing that the law was brought to everyone's attention so we can rest assured none of this will happen again."


If there is no penalty or procedure to force compliance then it will surely happen again. Hopefully for Mr Kaufman and Mr Hatten, this time it will sort of fade away so they can move forward without distraction. After all, THEY were the ones who complied with the law. It's their supporter's actions that brought about this situation in the first place.

7:07 AM  

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