Dr. John Hassett Jr.'s campaign for village trustee has come under fire.
Citing missing paperwork and violations of New York State election laws, Stephen Canzoneri, Malverne resident and son of former Mayor Joseph Canzoneri, submitted a formal complaint against Hassett's campaign practices Friday morning.
"Village residents need to know that he is not doing things properly," Canzoneri said.
In his letter addressed to Village Elections Commissioner Teresa Emmel, Canzoneri writes, "I wish to file a formal complaint and challenge to Dr. John J. Hassett, Jr. and the Village Tea Party’s failure to file the CF-16 form entitled 'Candidate’s Authorization For A Committee To Make Campaign Financial Disclosures.'"
According to New York State Board of Election regulations, candidates are required to submit this form if they have" an authorized committee that will make all of the candidate’s required campaign financial disclosure filings. These filings would include all the financial activity of the campaign, including the financial activity of the candidate."
Candidates are exempted from this requirement if they have or plan to have additional financial activity not reported by their committee or if they lack a committee altogether. In these cases, they would be required to report the financial activity of the campaign directly by filing disclosure reports on the required dates.
Canzoneri learned about the missing form when he submitted a Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, request for Hassett's paperwork on March 4.
He received a written response from Emmel three days later, stating that "Form CF-16...for candidate John J. Hassett, Jr. has not been filed with the office of the Village Clerk/Commissioner of Elections as of this writing."
According to the New York State Board of Elections Web site, the form is due no later than 32 days before the election.
When Emmel spoke with Patch on March 11, the form was still not in Hassett's file.
"Dr. Hassett has filed both the 27 day pre-general election filing due on February 16, as well as the 11 day pre-general filing which was due last week," Canzoneri wrote, referring to the other required forms that Hassett did submit.
"As of March 4, 2011, he has accepted $941.98 in donations. But due to his failure to file the CF-16, he is prohibited from received campaign donations and is required to self-finance his campaign."
In response to the allegations, Hassett told Patch, "We’ve done everything we need to do so far."
According to Canzoneri, Hassett would not be exempt from submitting the CF-16 form, because he is using a committee to accept donations and file financial reports on his behalf.
Evidence of this is seen in Hassett's 11 day Pre General disclosure report, which was filed on March 5 on his behalf by his Party Committee Treasurer William Howe. The document indicated that the committee had collected and reported $741.98 for Hassett's campaign.
Canzoneri said this report raises another issue. According to his research, Hassett never formally created the committee that has been working on his behalf.
"He hasn’t established a committee, so he can't establish a treasurer," Canzoneri added.
In his complaint letter, Canzoneri also challenged Hassett's campaign ads, posters and literature, mainly how they are being funded.
"He has had three newspaper ads that have stated, 'Paid for by friends of John Hassett,' [but] no such political committee exists, according [to] the village records," Canzoneri wrote.
Canzoneri also pointed out that Hassett's campaign posters, which hang on storefronts throughout the village, and fliers that have been distributed to potential voters, fail to state who paid for these materials.
"All fliers are supposed to say who they’re paid for by whether it was him personally or an election committee," Canzoneri said. "Clearly, his campaign has needed to spend money or accepted in-kind contributions for the above-mentioned items, but neither of his financial reports state any expenditures.
"These are additional failures on Dr. Hassett’s part to follow the election laws of the state."
Canzoneri said these procedures are all clearly laid out on the Board of Elections web site. "Everything is on the internet. There's no reason to make big error like this," he added.
Plus, he pointed out that Hassett is being advised by a former mayor (Tony Panzarella) and village trustee (Bill Malone).
"And I’m sure if he had contacted Village Hall, they would’ve been able to guide him," Canzoneri said. "There's no ignornance is bliss in laws of New York State Constitution. Everything is out there."
What will all this mean to Hassett's run for office? It's hard to say at this time.
"I wish I knew," said Emmel, who added that she was waiting to hear from the village's attorney on this matter. "I've never handled a complaint this late into the election year."
Ultimately, the matter will be brought before the Nassau County Board of Elections. (Canzoneri also mailed his complaint to the board's office in Mineola and was told that the village will also forward the complaint there.)
He added, "They do tend to take things like this very seriously."