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Levy Calls on Newsday to Retract False Story on Financial Disclosure

County Executive Steve Levy

The office of County Executive Steve Levy issued this release today:

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy today called upon Newsday to retract disparaging, inaccurate and false information set forth in various articles related to financial disclosure forms. More particularly, Levy referred to the Saturday, July 31 article entitled, “Attorney Set to Lead Probe of Ethics Commission,” wherein reporter Sandra Peddie claimed that the county executive was required to list his wife’s business clients and that his wife did not disclose the sources of her income. He said both statements from the Peddie article were absolutely, unquestionably false.

The article stated, “Newsday reported earlier this month that court reporting firms owned by Levy’s wife, Colleen West, do business with at least seven county vendors that have received millions in payments from the county. Levy said he is not required to disclose his wife’s clients even though the county form requires disclosing all sources of income, including those of a spouse.

Said Levy, “First off, in this and earlier articles, Ms. Peddie never noted that my wife Colleen never received any business from the county government or that the firms to which Peddie refers all utilized Colleen’s services well before I took office as county executive.

“Most disturbing is the claim by Ms. Peddie that my wife did not disclose her sources of income. My wife has always disclosed the sources of her income, whether it was a state or county disclosure form that was filed. The source of her income is her court reporting and medical transcription businesses, which were clearly stated on the forms.  There is not, and never has been, a requirement by either the state or the county for a filer to list the specific clients he or she may have, as was suggested by Ms. Peddie.  We brought this up to Newsday in earlier interviews and they simply ignored the facts. An attorney for Enright Court Reporting contacted Newsday’s legal bureau to let the bureau know that Newsday would be engaging in libelous conduct if it incorrectly suggested that we were remiss in not filing clients, since the state form specifically instructs the filer not to list clients and the county form makes no mention of any need to file clients.

“We challenged the reporter to show us a place on the form where it was required that a filer list clients, and the reporter could not do so. Nevertheless, the reporter wrote a story suggesting that there is a requirement to do so and that we were remiss in not doing so. The reporter also failed to mention that Colleen’s sources of income were clearly noted on the forms that Colleen separately filed.”

Levy also took issue with continued suggestions by Newsday and various legislators that falsely claimed that the ethics commission “gave him a pass” or “allowed” Levy to file a state rather than a county form. In the July 31 article, Newsday failed to note that the most respected ethics officials in the state had stated in writing that the local ethics commission is, in an effort to avoid duplication, mandated to accept state forms for a local employee who comes under the auspices of both the state and local statutes. Peddie was provided with such a statement from Barry Ginsberg, the chairman of the New York State Commission on Public Integrity. A similar statement was provided by Mark Davies, the foremost authority on financial disclosure in the state. Mr. Davies, formerly a member of the committee that formulated the New York State disclosure laws and who presently chairs the New York City Ethics Commission, stated that the law is “crystal clear” that the local commission is “mandated” to accept and has “no discretion” to reject the state form for such a filer.

Levy added, “In previous articles, Ms. Peddie, a non-lawyer infusing her own legal interpretations, has incorrectly insisted that I was required to file both a state and county form and suggested that I had somehow used undue influence on the board members to get them to provide me with some kind of special pass. This is all grossly inaccurate, unfair and disparaging. While I expect my political opponents, such as presiding officer Bill Lindsay, to make partisan, unsubstantiated attacks, it is incumbent upon Newsday to not misstate what form is required to be filed under the law and what items are required to be filed on those forms.”

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4 comments to Levy Calls on Newsday to Retract False Story on Financial Disclosure

  • Vivienne H. Wong

    Editor Village Tattler – thank heavens you guys publish the facts and are a real newspaper. again, thank you!

  • Chris K.

    Based on all the media reports I’ve read, Levy had a clear moral obligation to file the required county financial disclosure form. Even if he’s right that he could refuse to file that form (which requires much more detailed information than the state form) because of a technicality in state law, THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT MORALLY!

    Levy is the County Executive after all, the highest elected county official. Vivienne, don’t you think he should hold himself to the same standard as all other officials and county employees?

    One of the local papers also reported that Levy voted for the bill that created the disclosure form when he was in the legislature. What a hypocrite! It’s time for him to come clean and explain what, if anything, he’s been trying to hide.

  • Pakm

    File baby file. Disclose baby file. Hide baby hide.

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