The state bail reform law has become a central issue in the race between Democrat Todd Kaminsky and Republican Anne Donnelly to become Nassau County’s next prosecutor.
Kaminsky and Donnelly tout their crime-fighting backgrounds, as they seek to present themselves as the best qualified candidate to protect public safety.
Donnelly, 57, of Garden City, has been a prosecutor in the Nassau district attorney’s office for 32 years.
Kaminsky, 43, a senator from Long Beach, is a former federal prosecutor.
WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW
Anne Donnelly runs on the lines of the Republican and Conservative Party for the Nassau County District Attorney. Donnelly, 57, from Garden City, worked as a district attorney in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office for 32 years, most recently serving as Deputy Head of the Office of Racketeering and Corporate Crime. She left the office to run as a district attorney. Donnelly’s latest campaign finance report showed him with $ 41,933 in cash on hand. She raised $ 386,407 and spent $ 344,474 during the reporting period July 11 to September 27.
Todd kaminsky is running on the Democratic Party line for the Nassau County District Attorney. Kaminsky, 43, from Long Beach, is a New York State Senator. Prior to his election in 2016, he spent six years as a prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Kaminsky’s latest campaign fundraising report showed him with $ 1.484 million in cash on hand. He raised $ 589,233 and spent $ 1,043,789 during the reporting period July 11 to September 27.
Donnelly, who is backed by unions representing Nassau County police, correctional officers and detectives, criticized Kaminsky and the majority Democrats in the state legislature for passing the bail reform law in 2019.
She opposes several elements of the law and presents Kaminsky as one of the authors of the legislation.
His campaign claims that the elimination of the cash bond under the legislation has led to an increase in crime, but offers no data to support this claim.
Kaminsky, who is backed by unions representing New York State Soldiers and Long Beach City Police, served on the legislative committee that brought the bail bill to the Senate as a whole.
Bail reform was part of the state budget, which Kaminsky voted on in 2019.
He said he subsequently led the campaign for successful amendments to the original bill, including restoring the powers of judges to decide whether defendants should be detained because they posed a risk to public safety. .
“My only role in the legislative process was to use my law enforcement expertise to fight other members of my own party to try to make the law more reasonable and to try to give more discretion to the judges, “Kaminsky told Newsday.
He and Donnelly are running to replace former District Attorney Madeline Singas, a Democrat who resigned this year to become an associate judge on the state Court of Appeals.
The winner of the November 2 election will serve the remainder of Singas’ term, which ends in 2023.
Acting District Attorney Joyce Smith has led the office since June.
Donnelly most recently served as Deputy Head of the District Attorney’s Office for Racketeering and Corporate Crime.
She had spent the previous 12 years as Acting Head of the Public Corruption Bureau and Deputy Head of the Financial Crimes Bureau.
Donnelly left the district attorney’s office to run for district attorney.
If elected, Donnelly says she will work with law enforcement to develop strategies to stop what she calls the revolving door that has put a strain on the courts due to the “no bail law.” numerary “.
Donnelly says another major priority is to fight opioid addiction and the gangs that bring drugs to Nassau County. It is also committed to devoting more resources to education and drug treatment.
Additionally, Donnelly said she would work to update and strengthen the District Attorney’s Tech Crimes Unit, so she can deal with the growing number of crimes via email, text and phone.
Kaminsky was first elected to the State Senate in a special election in 2016.
In his candidacy for the district attorney’s election, Kaminsky highlights his law enforcement credentials as a prosecutor for six years in the United States Attorney’s Office for the eastern district of New York.
As a federal prosecutor, Kaminsky has worked on public corruption cases, including those involving former State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., a Democrat, and former Representative Michael Grimm (R- Staten Island).
Espada pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2012.
Grimm pleaded guilty to a federal tax evasion charge in 2014.
Kaminsky tries to highlight the problem of public corruption in the district attorney’s campaign.
Last month, for example, he called for the ouster of Oyster Bay City Assistant Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr., a Republican, following a county investigation showing Carman may have breached ethics laws by soliciting political contributions from subordinates.
At a press conference, Kaminsky urged Donnelly to join him in calling for Carman’s dismissal, “and the prosecution should begin.”
Donnelly responded by saying she would have “a zero tolerance policy for corruption” if elected.
A district attorney’s investigation under Singas found insufficient evidence that Carman committed a criminal offense.
But state bail reform has sparked some of the most heated exchanges in the Nassau District Attorney’s campaign so far.
The Bail Reform Act eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanors and non-violent crimes.
The bail reform law also requires prosecutors and defense lawyers to share information well in advance of trial.
Donnelly argues that the cash bail provisions threaten public safety and that judges should be the ones who should consider the consequences of releasing defendants, even some accused of non-violent crimes.
“A low-level young offender who has made a mistake does not need to be held” in jail, Donnelly said. “It’s important that we don’t just say, ‘Everyone is going to jail. ”
“But do we have to wait for someone to die before a dangerous person is sent to jail?” she asked.
Her position helped her gain support from the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, the Sheriff’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association, the Superior Officers’ Association and the Detectives Association Inc.
DAI Chairman John Wighaus said Donnelly was “neck and neck with us on the ground,” and said the impact of bail reform is one of the main issues for his staff. members.
“The drug dealers who sell these drugs in our communities are only released so they can resell in our same communities,” Wighaus said.
Tony Jordan, president of the District Attorneys Association of New York, said prosecutors are still arguing for changes to the bail law.
He said the 2020 amendments pushed by Kaminsky “have not fundamentally changed” what his group thinks is wrong with the law.
Jordan said his organization is advocating for judges to be allowed to detain defendants solely on the basis of their possible threat to public safety.
Kaminsky accuses Donnelly of “lying” by claiming that he drafted the bail reform law.
“Lying should be a disqualifying trait for any lawyer, let alone for someone who wants to be a district attorney,” Kaminsky told Newsday.
But he said he would like to make further changes to the bail reform law so that defendants are assessed for release or detention based on their risk to public safety, but regardless. their ability to pay a deposit in cash.
Nassau State and County Democratic President Jay Jacobs said “voters will receive mail and see digital ads and television commercials that disprove and refute these lies,” de Donnelly and others Republicans about Kaminsky.
“Our polls show Kaminsky is empowered when voters understand that the accusations she is making are patently false, so we need to make sure voters understand that,” Jacobs said.
But Craig Burnett, associate professor of political science at Hofstra University, has expressed skepticism that the issue of bail reform would have a major influence on voters in the November election.
Burnett noted that bail reform had not been discussed in the public forum for over a year.
“I’m not convinced that would be the problem that would get me to cross the finish line,” he said.