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Nov 19, 2015 1:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southampton Democrat Files FEC Complaint Against Zeldin, Claims He Misused Campaign Funds

Nov 24, 2015 11:00 AM

A Southampton Democrat said last week that she filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin of Shirley, charging that Mr. Zeldin ultimately used funds from his State Senate campaign as additional funding for his winning 2014 campaign for U.S. Congress.

Hampton Bays attorney Robin Long said that she filed the complaint after fellow Democrats in the area came forward with concerns about Mr. Zeldin’s fundraising.

“I looked into it and decided to take the lead that something should be done,” said Ms. Long, who has a legal practice in Southampton Village and once ran a campaign for Southampton Town Board member Bridget Fleming, who was recently elected to the Suffolk County Legislature on the Democratic ticket. Ms. Long was campaign manager for Ms. Fleming’s 2010 political campaign.

Last week, officials at the FEC said Ms. Long’s complaint was not yet visible in its system, explaining that it could take several days to show up after being filed.

When asked to elaborate on her complaint, Ms. Long declined.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Zeldin denied the charges, calling the complaint a political maneuver.

According to an article in Newsday, which said it obtained a copy of the complaint, it alleges that Mr. Zeldin used connections of state and local Republican and Conservative parties to transfer the state funds to his federal campaign, which is not permitted under federal election law.

Specifically, the article noted that the complaint alleged state campaign finance records show $58,000 transferred from Mr. Zeldin’s State Senate campaign to state and local parties, and those parties donated $16,000 to his federal campaign for Congress. It also alleges that about $2,000 was spent on local newspaper ads.

According to the official FEC Campaign Guide, “a candidate may not accept funds or assets transferred from a committee established by the same candidate for a non-federal election campaign,” meaning that candidates for federal office cannot accept campaign money from non-federal committees or campaigns because there are different legal criteria for who can donate to federal campaigns.

Jennifer DiSiena, Mr. Zeldin’s communications director, denied the accusations on behalf of Mr. Zeldin, calling the complaint a “partisan hit piece” that is “desperate, reckless and irresponsible.”

“Congressman Zeldin must be doing something right if his Democrat political opponents are getting this desperate this early, trying to throw anything at all up against the wall hoping that something sticks,” Ms. DiSiena said in an email. “While the Democrats play these shameful games, Congressman Zeldin will remain focused on working incredibly hard all day every day to best represent his constituents on critically important local, national and international issues.”

Mr. Zeldin is seeking reelection in 2016, and will be challenged by either Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst or David Calone, an attorney from Brookhaven, who are likely to face off in a Democratic primary next year.

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Must be getting close to election time.
By Resident tax (164), Hampton bays ny on Nov 19, 15 3:41 PM
Its like the nazis suing the communists. Two dirty parties thinking they are clean.
By chief1 (2725), southampton on Nov 19, 15 4:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
"When asked to elaborate on her complaint, Ms. Long declined."

A speechless lawyer! Maybe there are unicorns after all.
By kjmraven (19), East Quogue on Nov 19, 15 7:40 PM
By chief1 (2725), southampton on Nov 19, 15 8:10 PM
The FEC is well known for its ability to resolve investigates with a tie vote.

That Ms. Long elects not to litigate her complaint in the media but to allow the FEC is conduct its inquiry should be considered a plus not a negative.

Of course Mr. Zeldin's staff calls it political and like everything else in government and especially regarding campaign finance it is to some degree always going to be political.

There are unfortunately always attempts to find ways around campaign ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Nov 20, 15 1:34 PM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser