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Jun 16, 2010 11:43 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Developer made campaign donations as project came before board

Jun 16, 2010 11:43 AM

Bob Morrow, the developer behind a major retail and residential development project proposed in Tuckahoe, made donations to the campaigns of three Town Board members late last year—just months before going before the Town Board to request a special zoning change only that panel can grant.

In past years, those donations would have been revealed in the Town Board members’ annual financial disclosure forms: the law required that town officials list the names of those who made donations greater than $1,000 to their campaigns on a financial disclosure form before acting on any matter that would benefit the donor, according to Assistant Town Attorney Joe Burke. But the Town Board voted in April to change the law governing the documents: Now, the State Board of Elections online listing of campaign contributions stands as the disclosure.

The Board of Elections website shows that Mr. Morrow, his company, Kenilworth Equity LTD, and his daughter Dina Bean have made approximately $23,000 in campaign donations to Town Board candidates over the past five years. Of that total, the largest amount given to any single candidate, $4,550, went to Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s campaign. An analysis of her 330 donors shows that Kenilworth Equities is among Ms. Throne-Holst’s 10 largest donors.

“It doesn’t affect me,” Ms. Throne-Holst said Tuesday of the donations. “I’ve taken in $100,000 of contributions in office. Never once has it influenced how I legislate.”

Mr. Morrow has been before the Town Board twice since March 2010 to present his proposed project, dubbed “Tuckahoe Main Street,” which would feature a 40,000-square-foot King Kullen, two free-standing restaurants, two restaurants incorporated into larger buildings, 12 to 13 small stores, and 12 apartments on 12 acres off County Road 39 just outside Southampton Village. In April, the Town Board voted unanimously to consider Mr. Morrow’s request for a planned development district, a special zoning designation granted by the Town Board that would be required for the project, which would not be permitted by current zoning at the site. About a month later, the board voted 4-1, with Chris Nuzzi dissenting, to commence a state-mandated environmental review of the PDD proposal.

An earlier form of the proposal, which featured just a King Kullen and a few retail spaces, had been put forth by Ed Glackin, the vice president of real estate for the King Kullen Company, in 2008.

Mr. Morrow also said that he had no direct involvement with the construction project until March 2010, when he officially became a partner with Southampton Ventures LLC, the entity that initiated the development and first applied to the Southampton Town Board for special zoning allowances in the spring of 2009. He did acknowledge that he had been negotiating the deal for four to five months prior—which would be roughly the time of the fall 2009 town elections.

Still, Mr. Morrow contends that he had “no inkling whatsoever” in September—when he said he made many of the donations—that he would be involved in the Tuckahoe development project, in which Mr. Glackin still held an interest. Mr. Morrow, who also built the King Kullen complex on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, said that he has been contributing to political parties locally since the 1990s.

“Whatever contributions I made, I made,” Mr. Morrow said Tuesday. “I live in the community. I contribute to charities. I contribute to a lot of things. I do what I feel like doing.”

According to State Board of Elections records, Mr. Morrow, Kenilworth Equities LTD and Ms. Bean donated a total of $3,950 to the “Anna Throne-Holst for Supervisor” campaign in the fall of 2009. But the records indicate the money was donated after the November 3 election; prior to the election, Mr. Morrow had personally donated $600 to her campaign. He also donated to Ms. Throne-Holst’s opponent, Republican nominee Linda Kabot.

Mr. Morrow said Tuesday that he made all of the donations before the election, but that Ms. Throne-Holst’s campaign workers deposited some of the checks more than two months later. For example, he said he wrote a check of $1,200 on September 9, 2009, but that his bank records show it was not deposited until November 27, 2009. Board of Elections records show the donation as received on November 25, a time when Ms. Throne-Holst was still a councilwoman but preparing to take over as supervisor after the November 3 election.

Kenilworth Equities Ltd. made two $1,000 donations to Ms. Throne-Holst on November 16, according to state records. Mr. Morrow noted that those checks, while made on the Kenilworth Equities account, are actually from Hamptons Sunrise LLC and Hamptons Bellows LLC, two companies related to a condominium project in Hampton Bays he is involved with. That project, which calls for condominiums in the hamlet, has not been discussed publicly at Town Hall in recent years.

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Over $4,500.00 to Ms. Throne Holst before she voted to consider Mr. Morrow's proposal? She says it has nothing to do with the donation, maybe not, however, since the proposal was for a PDD with NO community benefit the donation is suspect.

Ms. Holst, why was this not made public at the time of debate on this issue? This is an extremely large donation for a local election. The donation should be returned.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jun 16, 10 2:26 PM
The $4500 donation will not affect how the Supervisor legislates:

And in other news, Supervisor Throne Holst announced she has a bridge in Brooklyn she is willing to sell.............
By CommonSense (71), Southampton on Jun 16, 10 2:30 PM
Bought and paid for.

"Still, Mr. Morrow contends that he had “no inkling whatsoever” in September—when he said he made many of the donations—that he would be involved in the Tuckahoe development project, in which Mr. Glackin still held an interest." HAH! Try again, Mr. Morrow.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jun 16, 10 2:56 PM
If this goes thru it is a complete travesty, People do not make campaign donations without expecting "something" in return...
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Jun 16, 10 4:02 PM
Yea the "quid pro quo"
By V.Tomanoku (694), southampton on Jun 17, 10 9:12 AM
This town is going down and ATH is the pilot!!!!!
By GoldenBoy (338), EastEnd on Jun 16, 10 5:27 PM
$4550 went to Anna Throne-Holst? I was under the impression the limit was $1850 under the law. She said this doesn’t affect her, who is she kidding. I'm still waiting to see how the police make out with raises after they went all out to endorse her and also donated in excess of the allowable amount.
We have a corrupt Supervisor and TB. You have to ask yourself why the law was rescinded, not requiring these donation be listed on the financial disclosure.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jun 16, 10 7:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
2nd note
It was Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst who was the sponsor of this resolution, it removed all wording to disclose campaign donations from someone who was working with the town, just like Mr. Morrow. I would call this resolution a cover your butt resolution. Look it up Res# 2010-357 from the April 13 TB meeting.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jun 16, 10 7:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow, when you read the entire article, it is clear that these donations to Ms. Throne Holst were indeed meant to buy her support. Whether or not she will play along is yet to be seen, however, she did indeed vote for to allow the consideration of this proposal just a couple of months AFTER receiving donations from Mr. Morrow - by the way, the article states that Ms. Throne-Holst is the first non-repbulican candidate he has ever donated to and he has never given money to the Southampton Democratic ...more
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 8:05 AM
3 members liked this comment
Most important thing to note which I forgot to mention: Several of these contributions to Ms. Throne Holst were made AFTER she won the supervisor seat!
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 8:07 AM
Money can't buy you love...Right?...Please say I'm right...please...
By V.Tomanoku (694), southampton on Jun 17, 10 8:59 AM
Just brought home the print edition. Turns out the only member of the present Town Board to whom Bob Morrow, his daughter or his company did NOT contribute is the Democrat, Bridget Fleming. The full article reports that the Morrow interests gave $4550 to the 2009 campaign of Anna Throne-Holst (and, to be fair, $2575 to Linda Kabot), $1000 each to the campaigns of Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone, and $1250 to the campaign of Nancy Graboski (but not since 2007). He did not, however, give a dime to the ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1921), Quiogue on Jun 17, 10 10:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
What is suspect is that the money given to Ms. Throne Holst was AFTER she won the election and the fact that he had never before given to a non-Republican candidate.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 12:16 PM
smells fecal to me
By bigfresh (4150), north sea on Jun 17, 10 5:37 PM
Politics as usual in Southampton!
By Walt (283), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 7:29 PM
10,000 years of "civilization", and the only thing about "humanity" that has changed is the backdrop...
By Mr. Z (10998), North Sea on Jun 17, 10 7:33 PM
And I quote " I do what I feel like doing ". Sounds very community oriented.
This guy is bad news and bad for this town. Guys like Morrow are the reason it is starting to look like rte. 58 in riverhead around here. There should be further investigation into these donations.
By icecreamman (457), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 8:54 PM
Reg rep says above, "We have a corrupt Supervisor and TB." Very serious accusation, very sweeping, but anyone who follows reg rep's comments knows she is obsessed with Anna Throne-Holst and will say anything to injure the Supervisor, with no regard for accuracy and no hesitation about tarring anyone else, like the whole Town Board, in this instance.

Reg rep is wrong, and this is a very ill-considered charge on her part, given that the contributions were legal, that there is no proof ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1921), Quiogue on Jun 17, 10 10:13 PM
Turkey Bridge, I am with you most of the time, but on this, I think you are being a bit naive or maybe blinded by political affiliation. Yes, reg rep is, as usual, out of control and making accusations without proof. The fact, however, remains that, regardless of whether or not Ms. Throne Holst can be influenced, these tainted donations were made AFTER her election and were the first ever given by Mr. Morrow to a non-Republican candidate. His donation motivation seems clear.

This development ...more
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 17, 10 11:20 PM
Ethics 101....impropriety or the appearance of impropriety....hmmm.
I would hope that anyone who received any campaign contribution step up to the plate and recuse themselves. Excuses like "it doesn't affect me" and "I had no inkling whatsoever." doesn't cut it. Filing an Article 78 may change some minds!
By semi local (16), southampton on Jun 18, 10 12:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Ethics 101....impropriety or the appearance of impropriety....hmmm.
I would hope that anyone who received any campaign contribution step up to the plate and recuse themselves. Excuses like "it doesn't affect me" and "I had no inkling whatsoever." doesn't cut it. Seems that there's an applicable law on this. Guess this PROHIBITION legislation is something some are apparently unaware of. How is this so?
Here's what the town code says on this:
§ 23-4
Standards of conduct.
A. ...more
By semi local (16), southampton on Jun 18, 10 1:32 AM
Turkey and Lablover both liberals as clearly stated by your posts.
Please turkey, stop acting like a child.
Turkey is not being naive; he as usual will never make a negative statement of his candidate Anna Throne-Holst. If these donations were only given to republicans & Malone his comments would have been completely different (and you know it Turkey).

Lablover read your own comments, "tainted donations, donations to Ms. Throne- Holst were indeed meant to buy her support". What ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 2:00 AM
What does my political bent have to do with it? I am giving Throne-Holst the benefit of the doubt, as I would with anyone. But I made it very clear that is sounds suspect to me - I said it over and over.

Reg rep, you really need to stop commenting on posts you haven' t read. Your anger issues are yours, not mine.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 7:57 AM
Semi local
Finally someone who gets it, and has a brain.

But can all 4 board members recuse themselves leaving only Bridget to vote on a resolution concerning this PDD? LOL, I don't know.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 2:11 AM
More proof you comment without consideration of the facts - "all 4" Chris Nuzzi already voted no on consideration of this proposal when everyone else voted yes. I thanked him for his vote - and, oh yea, he's a republican, isn't he?
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 8:00 AM
Lablover, you establish your objectivity bona fides with this point, and that's a good thing. I claim the same objectivity with my regular acknowledgments of Republican Nancy Graboski as a dedicated and responsible public official (and one who, in this context, received no money from Bob Morrow after 2007).

You may, however, want to be careful about giving Chris Nuzzi a gold star here. First, he was one of the three Town Board members to receive recent contributions from Mr. Morrow. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1921), Quiogue on Jun 18, 10 9:37 AM
Yes, that would definitely change my mind, however, I believe that if a majority of the board had voted no on the environmental review, that the project would have been dead in its tracks because you cannot do this without one - though I may be wrong.

I am aware of the contribution made to him by Morrow and I believe that were Nuzzi not in tight with the Epley and the village crowd (who are opposed) he would support this proposal, but, if my above assumption is correct and he does not ...more
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 10:05 AM
Agree.
By Turkey Bridge (1921), Quiogue on Jun 18, 10 3:03 PM
lablover
And you comment without reading all the posts. If you had read all the posts correctly you would have noticed that I was responding to semi local when she stated this above: " I would hope that anyone who received any campaign contribution step up to the plate and recuse themselves". Meaning recuse themselves when the time comes to vote on this PDD.
BTW keep your own anger issues in check.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 7:30 PM
the mere fact that this application has gone as far as it has speaks volumes. Since there is so much community opposition against this project and a change of zone to a PPD is not guaranteed just for asking, the project should have been DOA. HMMMMM , now throw in the campaign contributions into the mix, the law change regarding reporting the same, something is truly rotten in Town Hall.
By bigfresh (4150), north sea on Jun 18, 10 6:38 AM
I understand everyone's need to vent with opinions. Please utilize your energies toward an outcome of this issue as this could use a swift review by the ethics board for their determination of the facts and proposed action going forward. I suggest that someone or a group of you invest some time toward this goal as there seems to be an appearance of impropriety as reported. Unfortunately being a semi local I do not have standing to do so!
Here is what the Town ethics board is responsible ...more
By semi local (16), southampton on Jun 18, 10 10:58 AM
Many people, including myself, are already focusing our issues in positive ways. I don't see why you should be unable to participate simply because you are a part time resident. Do you own a house, do you rent, do you pay takes . . . then you have a right to file an ethics complaint.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 12:26 PM
There ya' go, kids!

And we, like total DOPES, stand around wondering, "Gee, I thought it was all legal?!" "How could the town board vote on a totally unwanted shopping center????"
By elliot (246), sag harbor on Jun 18, 10 11:55 AM
And Ms. Throne Holst says, "(the donations) don't affect me".

God... I hate when we're treated like morons!
By elliot (246), sag harbor on Jun 18, 10 11:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
The ethics board are made up of residents and one employee of the town. If would doubt they would be able to find fault with the board that appointed them.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 7:43 PM
Yes, 'tis something rotten in the South of Hampton.

Morrow has owned this property since 2001 as I recall, if not, please correct me. I didn't want to jump into the above fray, so I refrained.

SO, if this guy has owned the property for almost a decade, wouldn't it stand to reason he'd try to "grease the wheels" a bit in that time? Seems logical here, and I think we do need a regulation barring developers from making campaign contributions to local politicians. It would save ...more
By Mr. Z (10998), North Sea on Jun 18, 10 8:20 PM

Everyone interested in honest government and transparent governance ought to pull out all stops to defeat Anna Throne Holst in the next elections.

She has a history of voting against public interest for her very political objectives, eschewing even her supporters - just ask the still shocked Highway Dept. Head and many members of the Democratic Committee that actively supported her!

The Community doesn't matter, just Queen Anna as she plots her next political move way beyond ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jun 18, 10 11:53 PM
Exactly!
By lursagirl (202), southampton on Jun 20, 10 5:45 PM
lablover

You asked:
"Do you own a house, do you rent, do you pay takes . . . then you have a right to file an ethics complaint."
Read what was posted re the process of filing a complaint. It's not quite as simple as your questions ask if you are semi local. Just as an example, if you own a house here as a second residence can you vote in local elections? The answer is NO!


By semi local (16), southampton on Jun 19, 10 1:08 AM
If you own a second house here and are registered to vote here and not at your primary residence then you are most certainly eligible to vote.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 19, 10 9:05 AM
We must all consider the actions of our elected officials in this application and take them to task the next time they run for office. This is not about "one person" or "one party"...this is about Southampton and its people. Area residents are outspoken..."No Big Mall"...period. It brings "nothing" to the area that they need or want. Not a single person spoke in its support. If it is approved, our Town Board is working soley for the interests of the developer, plain and simple. Just down the ...more
By Dodger (156), Southampton Village on Jun 19, 10 10:25 AM
And don't forget Morrow has plans for a huge PDD pending in Hampton Bays. This one is mixed use but with lots and lots of housing. Just what HB needs! More housing, more traffic, more kids in the schools and higher school taxes. No public hearing yet but I'm sure the "experts" will all claim little or no impacy on schools, traffic etc. That's why HB gets new traffic lights and stop signs daily (ok slight exaggeration!), No project ever admits to serious impact and the town lets them get away with ...more
By baywoman (162), southampton on Jun 19, 10 6:59 PM

All this out of control wacky white elephant development going on proves that with a couple of exceptions, we have the best Town Board and Supervisor money money can buy!

Do we deserve government by developers, of developers, and for developers? We all should remember this the next time these guys campaign for office again!

It's the only time taxpayers have an edge over big campaign contributors and their big money. We can counter their white elephant projects with elephant ...more
By Obbservant (443), southampton on Jun 20, 10 12:50 AM
Thank you, Ms. DiNapoli and the Southampton Press for uncovering this campaign contribution information. It is a critical piece of knowledge in this instance.
By elliot (246), sag harbor on Jun 20, 10 3:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Agreed. Information = power
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 21, 10 12:33 PM
Dodger and Obbservant (sic) are right in what they say above about holding our elected officials to account in November when they seem to be accommodating a campaign contributor respecting Tuckahoe Main Street, a project almost everyone else opposes. Just for the record, however, and just so we don't paint everyone with the same brush, I need to point out again that one Town Board member, Democrat Bridget Fleming, has never been the recipient of any contribution from developer Bob Morrow or anyone ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1921), Quiogue on Jun 21, 10 11:37 AM
So when people ask her how she could support this monstrosity we can believe her when she says it was sheer stupidity rather than graft.
By 11962local (5), Sagaponack on Jun 21, 10 12:26 PM
Voting for an environmental review of the project, as Ms. Fleming did, is not the same as supporting the project, unless of course you think the project should be passed without an environmental review. Chris Nuzzi's vote against conducting the environmental review could be interpreted in that way.
By Turkey Bridge (1921), Quiogue on Jun 21, 10 5:40 PM
"Chris Nuzzi's vote against conducting the environmental review could be interpreted in that way."

Yes, it could. But given the clear bias of your track record here, would you contort yourself in the same way twere it Ms. Fleming?

Howsabout dropping the "spin" and let's see how this plays out. I think you'll agree that there are some explanations in order, and I cannot imagine that, given the appearances(!) of impropriety, statements need to be issued, and maybe even some donations ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1809), Northampton on Jun 22, 10 2:07 PM
Spin, schmin, the basic story is that Bob Morrow made significant contributions to Ms. Throne-Holst, Mr. Nuzzi, Mr. Malone, and Ms. Graboski (though not recently in her case). Those are facts, not spin. Those facts will, as you say, "play out" however they do in the case of these recipients. It's also a fact that Mr. Morrow made no such contribution to Democrat Bridget Fleming or to the Southampton Democratic committee. Why? Because the Dems haven't been receptive to the advances of developers ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1921), Quiogue on Jun 22, 10 11:53 PM
Say NO to Tuckahoe Main Street. Sign the petition here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ntototuckahoemainstreet/
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jun 21, 10 2:52 PM
Any one hear know how to contact the Town ethics board? The Town website does not provide a link or a phone number. Thanks.
By bigfresh (4150), north sea on Jun 21, 10 5:00 PM
Bigfresh
Address your letter to Darlene Troge, she is the only employee of the town that is a member of the ethics board.
Darlene Troge, Ethics Board Member
Town of Southampton
116 Hampton Road
Southampton, NY 11968
I believe the other members are:
Dr. Stanley Zinberg
Maureen Sutton
Eugene Gaughan
Michele LeMoal Gray
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jun 22, 10 9:23 AM
Why does this just somehow feel like "business as usual"?
One of my favorite bands is Pantera, and they have a great line from one of their songs:

"Rape the world, for all it's worth, every inch of planet Earth..."
By Mr. Z (10998), North Sea on Jun 23, 10 1:46 AM
A couple of comments-
1. Ethics- The mid June article discussed campaign contributions. Any recusals yet?
2. SERQA- before deciding if PDD's are a benefit or not what are the State Environmental Quality Review findings on this project as it stands on it's face now? This is always the first step, and an opportunity for those aggrieved to file an article 78 within 30 days of any board's decision.
3. The more impervious surfaces there are, the more destruction there is to the environment, ...more
By semi local (16), southampton on Jul 9, 10 11:35 AM
ATH is a disaster. These donations and her supine attitude toward development; her attempt to divert PDD open space money to pay for a property that NEVER should have been bought by the town for "affordable housing". Morrow the developer of the mall plunked down millions on the assorted properties -- none of which was zoned for his mammoth mall. Does anyone believe that he did this without a guarantee that he would be given a PDD beforehand? She has to GO! As does Jeff Murphree -- a really ...more
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Jul 16, 10 9:05 PM