- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) - A prosecutor says officials at one of Long Island’s biggest hospitals may have committed criminal acts and violated the state’s ethics law when a hospital news release was sent apparently promoting a political candidate.

Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Bernadette Ford wrote in a letter Thursday to the chairman of the state ethics committee that NuHealth may have committed a crime and violated state ethics law when it sent a news release Tuesday that featured quotes endorsing Republican Kate Murray in the district attorney’s race.

NuHealth is a public benefit corporation that runs Nassau University Medical Center, and NuHealth employees are subject to the state’s public officer’s law.

Murray and Nassau’s Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas are opponents in the race.

Ford wrote that the hospital’s actions “raise troubling questions about the political involvement of a governmental public benefit corporation with a political campaign.”

The news release quotes Murray and NuHealth board member Warren Zysman, who said Murray was “the right person” to be the county’s district attorney. Part of it reads verbatim from a news release that Murray’s campaign sent out days earlier.

NuHealth spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg sent a statement the next day retracting the news release and saying it wasn’t authorized by the medical center. Lotenberg had no immediate comment Thursday night.

Bill Corbett, a spokesman for Murray’s campaign, declined to comment.

Singas said in an interview Thursday that she has asked that a special prosecutor investigate who approved the news release and who sent it out.

“I obviously can’t do it,” Singas said. “But I think it should be looked at.”

Her office also has asked the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics to launch an investigation. A spokesman for the commission says it is prohibited from commenting on any current or potential investigations.

Singas said, “Using a government hospital, really as an arm of Murray’s campaign, has crossed the line and this blatant endorsement of a political candidate by a government agency is outrageous. On the very surface level, it looks very disturbing and very troubling to me.”

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