Dr. Marc Herman, a dentist who is running as a Democrat for Town of Oyster Bay supervisor, is calling on the town to bar workers from contributing to the campaigns of elected officials to whom they report.
“Taxpayers in the Town of Oyster Bay are on edge after the recent federal and local corruption indictments of former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and multiple town officials and employees,” Herman, 63, of Woodbury, said. “Supervisor [Joseph] Saladino . . . doesn’t inspire confidence that anything has changed, especially in a town that is reeling from pay-to-play corruption scandals.”
Saladino, who once served Venditto as his operations director, has tried to distance himself from the embattled former supervisor, who is facing federal corruption charges. “My administration has instituted some of the strongest ethics reforms in the state,” Saladino insisted. “It is quickly building the highest level of transparency in the town’s history and continues to restore the public’s trust in government. The town board and I took swift action to install a new, independent Board of Ethics, with real and meaningful oversight.”
Bob Freier, a Democratic candidate for the town board, said he believes town workers contribute because they are afraid of losing their jobs if they don’t. He said that many are in the union and are protected from being fired, but others are not. “There was a perception with Venditto, and I think with the current administration, that they scare people into thinking when new people [elected or appointed leaders] come in, town workers will lose their jobs,” he said. “With us, nothing could be further from the truth.”
Brian Nevin, spokesman for Saladino, said that is untrue. “Everyone is welcome to contribute, and the law allows for any citizen to do so to the candidate of their choice,” he said. “All residents recognize that Supervisor Saladino is cleaning up the mess he inherited, instituting ethics reforms and freezing property taxes to protect taxpayers’ wallets.”
Herman has investigated who has contributed to Saladino’s campaign by reviewing data from his July campaign finance disclosure report, which Herman said indicated that 56 percent of the supervisor’s contributors were town employees.
The report, which he found on seethroughyouny.net, indicates that of the 380 individual contributions that Saladino received in July, 214 were from town employees listed on the payroll, totalling $38,900, Herman said.
Nevin said that, if the data is correct, it reflects positively on Saladino. “Clearly Marc has little to no support from the workforce,” he said, adding that government time could not be spent verifying Herman’s findings. “Our campaign does not cross-reference employees and contributors. It’s scary that Herman thinks it’s OK to do so.”
But Herman insisted the data reveals that not much has changed in Oyster Bay.
“One has to wonder if Saladino learned his fundraising techniques from Venditto,” Herman said. “Saladino is raising a majority of his money from people that he employs with taxpayer dollars. I believe it would be in the town’s best interest, and help eliminate the perception of corruption, if these kinds of donations are banned.”
Town residents, he added, are confused by the “deeply tangled, corrupt web that has rocked our communities to their core, and these donations certainly aren’t helping.”
Freier is planning his fundraiser for later this month. He said Democrats want to make it clear that contributions would not be considered if they were elected to lead the town. He referred to a statement printed on the donation form: “Please note that to ensure the highest ethical standard this committee will not intentionally solicit or receive donations from Town of Oyster Bay employees. Such employees are thanked for their service to the town, but should never have to donate to a political candidate who can, or does, control their conditions on work.”
Nevin continued to say, however, that no reforms regarding campaign contributions were needed.
“Mr. Herman thinks he can fool and trick the public,” Nevin said. “It’s sad that Marc Herman continues to lie and throw mud in an effort to hide his dismal record of handing out more than a half-million dollars in compensation to the Syosset school superintendent, the highest-paid educational employee in the United States.”
Herman served on the Syosset School District Board of Education for nearly 20 years. The board is responsible for approving superintendents’ contracts.