Thursday, January 25, 2007

DiNapoli won't agree to ban certain donations


And now a "down" state view on the comptroller I have said many times before....DiNapoli is upfront and honest.....he will tell you exactly how he feels on an issue..and not "kiss butt" like some of the other comptroller candidates on the campaign donation issue.........nobody would ever confuse Tom with a north shore "Gold Coast" Millionaire..........andy

ALBANY - Long Island Assemb. Tom DiNapoli yesterday refused to join other Democratic legislators seeking to replace Alan Hevesi as state comptroller in a pledge to decline campaign donations from people or firms looking to do business with the state pension fund.Parting company with several other top contenders on a key ethics issue, DiNapoli (D-Great Neck) said he would limit contributions to $10,000 per donor instead of the $50,000 legal limit, but said he feared he wouldn't be able to finance a campaign to hold the office in four years if he ruled out so-called "pay-to-play" donations from law firms and money managers who want to get hired by the comptroller."It is important for people to be able to run for office who are not wealthy people," DiNapoli told state legislators and a screening panel during the second day of public interviews of candidates for the post. "I don't think access should be held back from middle-class people just because you can't self-finance a campaign."

DiNapoli received a uniformly warm reception from his fellow lawmakers, and praise from Long Island Republicans, as the legislators finished interviewing 18 candidates to replace Hevesi, who resigned over his misuse of an employee as his wife's chauffeur.The screening panel of former state comptrollers Carl McCall and Edward Regan and former New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin monitored the interviews and will now narrow the field, choosing up to five candidates as the most qualified. McCall yesterday promised the list "very quickly."Members of the Senate and Assembly voting as a group of 212 legislators will then choose one of the five. But Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is widely believed to favor choosing an Assembly member and has spoken favorably of DiNapoli, controls enough Democratic votes to dictate the outcome.DiNapoli and investment banker Bill Mulrow, who ran in the 2002 Democratic primary for comptroller, both have promised to abide by a $10,000 limit but have stopped short of a ban on "pay-to-play" type donations.

Other leading contenders, including New York City finance commissioner Martha Stark, and Assembs. Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn, Pete Grannis of Manhattan and Richard Brodsky of Westchester, have promised to abide by the broader restriction.Brodsky, in his interview yesterday, reminded legislators that Gov. Eliot Spitzer banned all contributions from those doing business with his office while he was attorney general. Brodsky said a similar standard was needed for the new comptroller to restore public confidence in the wake of the Hevesi scandal."If we're serious about reform, we have to reform ourselves," Brodsky said.In addition to DiNapoli, legislators also heard from two other Long Island candidates yesterday - former Long Island Association head James LaRocca, and Robert Hoffman, a former state tax auditor from Massapequa. The comptroller oversees the state's $140-billion pension fund and audits state and local government agencies.

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