Politics & Law Very Lucrative For Cuthbertson

cuthbertson2Editor’s note:  This story was originally published in October 2013. In light of Newsday’s Investigative report called The Insiders, and Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson didn’t disclose ties to Gary Melius we have made the decision to rerun this article. There are other disturbing connections related to Councilman Cuthberson and his law firm that are deserving of further scrutiny.  Updates to the article have been added as Editor’s notes.

The connection between political campaign contributions and municipal contract awards has been a murky one. The practice is not illegal but it is considered disturbing among many in the New York State Bar Association and most certainly disturbing to the public at large.  This practice raises the specter of a conflict of interest.

The Moreland Commission, that was set up by Governor Cuomo, suggested ways of making donations to and from elected officials who are attorneys more transparent. The commission suggested that they be required to list their clients so that the public could see who they were doing business with. [Editors Note:] The Moreland Commission was abruptly shut down by Governor Cuomo.  

Town of Huntington Councilman Mark A. Cuthbertson stands out in regard to this type of practice. Our findings indicate that the Huntington Councilman, through his private law firm (Law Offices of Mark A. Cuthbertson),  and his campaign committee (Friends of Mark Cuthbertson) have donated tens of thousands of dollars to elected officials in other Towns. Those same Towns have then hired Mark Cuthbertson’s law office to do legal work for them.  Some of the municipalities that he has served as outside legal counsel for include the Towns of Babylon, Brookhaven, Islip and North Hempstead.

Documents indicate that the Law Offices of Mark Cuthbertson has received a total disbursement of $956,918.65 for the period 2004-2013 for legal services with the North Hempstead Community Development Agency (CDA). Be reminded that this is just from one Town agency.

Mr. Cuthbertson has served as outside legal counsel for the Town of North Hempstead CDA since 2004.  The North Hempstead CDA members are all appointed by the North Hempstead Town Supervisor who Mr. Cuthbertson has about $30,000 worth of donations to.  Jon Kaiman became North Hempstead Supervisor in 2004. As outside counsel to the CDA, Mr. Cuthbertson worked on components of the New Cassel Urban Renewal plan that included the review of land lease agreements, condemnation proceedings etc.

The Huntingtonian filed a freedom of information request for and reviewed multiple contracts and resolutions dating back to 2004 when the North Hempstead CDA initially retained Mr. Cuthbertson’s law firm.  The resolutions and contracts were adopted by the CDA, which at that time was headed by a Mr. David Wasserman and later on, by a Mr. Neville Mullings. A copy of the contract can be found here.

The North Hempstead CDA has a history of scandals, criminal investigations and ultimately convictions. Former CDA head, Mr. David Wasserman was arrested in 2007 and pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges stemming from a North Hempstead Building Department scandal to include Grand Larceny, falsifying business records and receiving unlawful gratuities. For more on that story click here. Another more recent North Hempstead CDA head, Mr. Neville Mullings was recently convicted on various charges in connection with the New Cassel  “Smart Growth” Redevelopment Project, which was one of the CDA’s pet projects. Those convictions included two counts of conspiracy and official misconduct. According to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, the New Cassel investigation revealed multiple schemes, including a large-scale bid-rigging and bribery scheme to steer the multi-million project (New Cassel Revitalization) to a selected developer, as well as the theft of public funds. For more on the New Cassel corruption case click here.  For the list of partial verdicts click here.  To watch an Eyewitness News report on the corruption case  from July 2010 click here.

[Editor’s Note] Within the past two weeks Mullings, Corbin and Williams received jail sentences for these crimes.

Regarding Councilman Cuthbertson’s contribution issue; it appears that he has an obvious interest in North Hempstead politics.  The Town of North Hempstead Supervisor from 2004 until recently, Mr. Jon Kaiman, is a democrat and the democratic party has an overwhelming majority on the North Hempstead Town Council. Kaiman recently resigned as North Hempstead Supervisor in September 2013 because he was appointed a “Long Island Storm Recovery” czar by Governor Cuomo. When reviewing Councilman Cuthbertson’s campaign finance contributions over the past few years this is some of what we found:

 

Mark Cuthbertson Personal or Law Firm Donations
Recipient Total Position Held
BROOKHAVEN TOWN DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE $1,600.00 Brookhaven Committee
CITIZENS FOR BRIAN FOLEY $750.00 Brookhaven Supervisor
CITIZENS FOR TOM DWYER $1,050.00 North Hempstead Councilman
FRIENDS OF JON KAIMAN $13,150.00 North Hempstead Supervisor
FRIENDS OF PHIL NOLAN $2,875.00 Islip Supervisor
LESKO FOR SUPERVISOR $750.00 Brookhaven Supervisor
NORTH HEMPSTEAD DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE $1,700.00 North Hempstead Committee
TOWN OF BABYLON DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE $1,000.00 Babylon Committee
Friends of Mark Cuthbertson Campaign Committee Donations
Recipient Total Position Held
FRIENDS OF JON KAIMAN $15,810.00 North Hempstead Supervisor
TOWN OF BABYLON DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE $14,750.00 Babylon Committee
NORTH HEMPSTEAD DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE $7,955.00 North Hempstead Committee
FRIENDS OF PHIL NOLAN $4,880.21 Islip Supervisor
BROOKHAVEN TOWN DEMOCRATIC COMM. $6,475.00 Brookhaven Committee
CITIZENS FOR BRIAN FOLEY $2,925.00 Brookhaven Supervisor
LESKO FOR SUPERVISOR $2,825.00 Brookhaven Supervisor
FRIENDS OF CONNIE KEPERT $1,625.00 Brookhaven Councilwoman
FRIENDS OF BRIAN FOLEY $1,250.00 Brookhaven Supervisor

 

In total, between the period of 2006 through 2013, the Mr. Cuthbertson contributed  a minimum of $38,615.00 to the “Town of North Hempstead Democratic Committee” and to the “Friends of Jon Kaiman” using funds from his ” Friends of Mark Cuthbertson” campaign account.  The photographs below were taken from the New Cassel project. Many of the storefronts remain empty years after construction was completed:

North Hempstead 3North Hempstead 5

Mr. Cuthbertsons law firm has also been retained by other townships on Long Island. Examples are provided below.

Brookhaven

Mark Cuthbertson has been retained as outside legal counsel in the town of Brookhaven.  Specifically under the administration of previous Brookhaven Democrat Supervisors Brian Foley and Mark Lesko.  One case that his law firm defended included “The Meadows at Yaphank”.  In 2011, the Open Space Counsel filed an Article 78 against the town of Brookhaven in order to stop a high density development that included  a 220 room hotel, 332 townhouse units, 294 condominiums and 224 rental apartments. Additional buildings for office space and retail were also part of the project. The site is located in the Long Island Pine Barrens region. The Open Space Counsel said the project was too dense and that it threatened the ecological balance in the area, including the Carmans River Watershed. They also stated that the rezoning was arbitrary, capricious and unlawful. The town, defended by Cuthbertson, ultimately won the article 78  case thereby allowing the development to proceed.

Cuthbertson has contributed significantly to the campaigns of former Democrat Brookhaven Supervisor Foley, Lesko and to current Democrat Brookhaven Councilwoman Connie Kepert.(see chart above) These contributions were made during a period while he was retained as outside legal counsel to the town of Brookhaven.

Babylon

Cuthbertson is presently retained as outside legal counsel for the town of Babylon. Cuthbertson has contributed significant sums of money to the town of Babylon Democratic Committee. (see chart above)  These contributions were made during a period while he was retained as outside legal counsel to the town of Babylon.

(Editor’s note: Until recently the Babylon Democratic Committee was headed by a Robert Stricoff.  Mr. Stricoff is now under investigation for allegedly overpaying himself $125,000 as Chair of the Babylon Committee. Stricoff was also head of the Town of Babylon Industrial Development Agency.  The Stricoff investigation is being headed by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. The Babylon IDA is now also being investigated as Stricoff is alleged to have directed a subordinate IDA employee to “scrub” his IDA computer of all data.  Stricoff was directly involved in the re-election campaign of Councilman Cuthbertson in 2013.  He even interjected himself into a discussion on a facebook page calledParents of Huntington” the morning of the 2013 election.  He tried to promote and defend Cuthbertson’s election bid.  During that discussion Stricoff denied Cuthbertson worked for the Town of Babylon as outside counsel.  When proof was provided on that facebook page that the Councilman was outside counsel for the Town of Babylon, Stricoff suddenly disappeared from the discussion.)

Islip

In February 2008, Cuthbertson’s law firm was retained as outside legal counsel to the town of Islip Industrial Development Agency under Democrat Supervisor Phil Nolan who took office in 2007. Nolan has since lost a bid for re-election to Republican Supervisor Tom Crocci in 2011.  Cuthbertson contributed to Nolan using his “Friends of Mark Cuthbertson” campaign account. (see chart above) Most of these contributions were made while Cuthbertson’s law firm was retained as outside legal counsel to the Islip Industrial Development Agency (IDA).

 

Facebook Comments must be signed into Facebook

http://www.e-zsewer.com/

One Response to Politics & Law Very Lucrative For Cuthbertson

  1. Pingback: The Tale of The Councilman and Two Urban Renewal Projects | The Huntingtonian

You must be logged in to post a comment Login