According to the New York Daily News, that’s how much Nassau County District Kathleen Rice received from the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, its partners, and their spouses. Weitz & Luxenberg isn’t just any firm. And it’s not just known for its masterfully-produced “Metal-on-Metal” hip replacement surgery ads seeking your willingness to sue.
This is the law firm of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Yes, in New York State, there’s absolutely no conflict of interest (apparently) to make money at a personal injury firm while also determining if tort reform legislation makes its way to the floor of your chamber.
What’s interesting about the donations Ms. Rice receives from Mr. Silver’s firm is that she’s also co-chair of a Moreland Commission in New York that’s investigating government corruption, with a focus on the New York State Legislature. According to the Daily News, “No one else on the 25-member corruption commission received contributions from Weitz & Luxenberg.”
A spokesperson for Ms. Rice said that she is “immune to fear or favor.”
Sidebar: Kathleen Rice has also received contributions from a partner at Thor Equities, who was subpoenaed by the same commission of which she is a co-chair.
Now we know why she is “immune to fear or favor”: vaccines are so expensive these days.
Speaking of vaccines, what do you have to do in a Republican stronghold like Nassau County to repeatedly have the GOP refuse to nominate a strong candidate against you? It seems odd that when Republicans hold three out of the four countywide posts, that they would give Ms. Rice, a Democrat, a free pass when it came to her own elections.
Maybe it’s her record.
In June 2013, Ms. Rice “investigated” the Republican County Executive Ed Mangano’s use of government employees to hand out flyers that touted his repeal of an energy tax and for not raising property taxes. Such language, it seems, would be more suited for campaign literature handed out by volunteers. Luckily for Mr. Mangano, Ms. Rice’s office found nothing wrong with this exercise. She deferred to a county ethics board which is controlled by Mangano-appointed members.
Ms. Rice’s actions resulted in even greater and more egregious taxpayer-funded literature being mailed out by the county right before the fall elections. One of these flyers stated that: “Democrats Are Playing Politics with your Health.” But it’s all okay, right? Because none of these used “objectively overt political statements.”
It seems putting up token opposition in District Attorney’s races can have benefits for the opposition’s party.
But this story isn’t over just yet.
Apparently it’s just dandy for Republicans to use intimidation to win an election as long as Democrat Kathleen Rice occupies the District Attorney’s Office.
But now circumstances have changed and the Democrats have finally woken up to her “immunity.”
Ms. Rice most recently found “no criminality” when the local police commissioner who, according to the Daily News (glad someone is actually reporting this) “at the urging of Gary Melius, a politically connected donor, personally directed officers to arrest a key witness in a case connected to the county executive race.”
To sum it up, according to the Daily News:
The witness, campaign worker Randy White, was set to testify in a case involving a third-party aspirant for county executive who Dems believe was a strong candidate designed to help GOP incumbent Edward Mangano.
Two days before the testimony, White was arrested — while riding on a bus — on an outstanding warrant over a $250 fine he hadn’t paid from an unrelated misdemeanor conviction.
The Daily News also writes:
Some question how aggressively Rice’s office investigated, given that the situation touched major Nassau County political figures: Mangano, who Rice found to have no involvement, his police department, and Melius.
Rice spokesman Shams Tarek said the DA is “completely unfazed by all this commentary and is used to ignoring political pressure as she follows the facts and applies the law.”
Well, obviously she is unfazed…she got a vaccine and is now immune.
But this isn’t as simple as going soft on GOP corruption to have an easy ride on Election Day. It’s much deeper than that. The gentleman mentioned above, Mr. Gary Melius, who is he, exactly?
Well, it turns out he owns Oheka Castle. And he might have skipped out on a $27.9 million mortgage payment due last year.
But that’s beside the point. Gary Melius is Executive Director of the Nassau County Independence Party. And his COO at Oheka is Chairman of the same party. It must be one helluva castle!
Why is this significant? Ms. Rice doesn’t need the Independence Party’s support for her DA races. When the Republicans choose to leave you virtually unchallenged, your opposition doesn’t really matter.
But she will need the Independence Party’s backing should she run for Congress next year, as is widely speculated. She could also use the party’s assistance for other races, including a future County Executive run – or anything else.
That’s why her “immunity” should be questioned. And it’s why it’s so perplexing when she repeatedly finds so little wrong with matters she “investigates.”
So how much does it cost to buy Kathleen Rice? Much like a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.