Employees of Nassau County, New York who work in procurement and contracting are banned from accepting any gifts or favours from county vendors as of this week.
On Monday, Nassau County Chief Executive Laura Curran signed a new executive order establishing a zero-tolerance policy for procurement staff accepting gifts of any kind from prospective or existing suppliers. Previously, gifts with a value of less than $75 were acceptable.
Curran said that the new order clarified the rules and meant that county employees would not have to be concerned with ascertaining the value of a gift before deciding whether to decline or accept. Under the new ruling, even accepting a complimentary cup of coffee could be seen as accepting a bribe or an incentive to favouritism.
The new policy comes as Curran’s predecessor, Edward Mangano, awaits trial on charges of accepting bribes and gifts from Harenda Singh, an indicted restauranteur. Last week, Mangano’s Chief Deputy Rob Walker was charged with lying to the FBI regarding accepting $5,000 and a ticket to an American football game from a county vendor. Mangano’s wife Linda and Oyster Bay supervisor John Venditto are also facing charges.
Democratic County Executive Curran replaced Republican County Executive Mangano last month. Nassau County’s Republican majority on the legislature stated that it joined with County Executive Curran in condemning the solicitation or acceptance of gifts by any county official involved in the procurement process, and said that such behaviour should not be tolerated.
Speaking at a news conference, Curran said: “There’s an old saying that business gets done on the golf course. Today we say that in Nassau County, not anymore.”
Nassau County covers most of western Long Island in New York State and is a part of the New York Metropolitan Area. In 2012 it was named one of the highest income counties in the US.