Local Groups Call for Sen. Hannon to Step Down

Published by LI Herald. Written by Steve Smirti.
December 10, 2015

Local unions and some community activists are calling for the resignation of State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) amid reports that Hannon, who heads the Senate Health Committee, has been profiting from investments in various health care companies that fall under his committee’s purview.

In total, Hannon invested nearly $130,000 in 14 health care companies last year, according to the New York Daily News.

“He is making decisions for the people of New York state, and at the same time he’s trying to make decisions on what’s going to happen in his pocket,” said Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “One of the major ways to stop this is through publicly financed elections.”

Six labor groups marched outside the law offices of Farrell Fritz in RXR Plaza in Uniondale on Dec. 2, and demanded that Hannon, who is special counsel at the firm, either sever his ties to it or resign from the Senate. Farrell Fritz, one of the largest law firms on Long Island, represents health care companies.

As Health Committee chairman, Hannon had secured a $65,000 grant for Winthrop University Hospital. Farrell Fritz has represented the hospital periodically since 1993, and managing partner Charles M. Strain is the chairman of the hospital’s board of directors.

“Everything I have in terms of finances is public record,” Hannon said. “It has been since I got into public office. People know who I am, and there’s nothing else other than what’s there.”

Hannon, 69, of Garden City, was first elected to the Senate in 1989, and was previously a member of the State Assembly. His district includes East Meadow, Franklin Square, Lakeview, Salisbury and parts of Seaford and Wantagh. He has been an attorney at Farrell Fritz since the 1980s.

“There’s an ingrained culture of pay-to-play in Albany that’s too pervasive and needs to come to an end immediately,” said Michael Gendron, executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 1108. “We need leaders whose motives are good policy, good government, not a good payday.”

Hannon described the protest as politically motivated. He noted that the labor groups calling for his resignation are supporters of the Democratic Party.

“It’s immediately a political event obviously aimed at advancing an agenda to change control of the Senate majority this year,” he said. “All of the information that they’re talking about is something that’s been voluntarily put on my disclosure statements.”

In recent weeks there has been increased scrutiny of the political dealings of elected officials in Albany, with former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, convicted of corruption on Nov. 30, and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican from Rockville Center, currently on trial on charges of bribery and conspiracy charges.