Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano refused to debate his Democratic challenger Tom Suozzi on News12 Long Island because Mangano said the television station refused to disclose Suozzi’s ties to its owners.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin sent a letter to Patrick Dolan, president of News12 Long Island, saying that Dolan is ignoring an “appearance of conflict” given Suozzi’s prior employment at Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp, which owns News12.
“The Mangano campaign has on several occasions requested—and you have refused—to disclose during the debate your stations corporate relationship with Tom Suozzi,” Nevin wrote in the letter to Dolan, a member of the family that owns Cablevision.
After Mangano narrowly unseated the former two-term county exec in 2009, Suozzi was hired as a consultant to MSG Varsity, high school sports programming run by Cablevision.
Nevin also noted in the letter that News12 Long Island refused to mention that Cablevision donated $200,000 to Suozzi. The company also donated $11,000 to Mangano.
“The county executive is obviously too ashamed of his dismal record to be able to discuss it in a public forum,” said Jeff Guillot, Suozzi’s campaign spokesman, who criticized what he called “the unprecedented nature of his snub of Long Island’s television station of record.”
Newsday, which is also owned by Cablevision, similarly failed to disclose Suozzi’s ties to their parent company when LI’s lone daily newspaper endorsed Suozzi in the Democratic primary, drawing the ire of media critics. The paper later included the corporate ties in their Sunday endorsement of Suozzi for the general election, but again omitted the campaign donations.
Mangano and Suozzi first faced off at a debate in Old Westbury earlier this month, but Mangano canceled plans to attend a debate at Hofstra University last week and Nevin said Mangano is unable to attend a debate Thursday in Hempstead.
“Mangano and … Suozzi … are committed to a televised debate on CBS New York Channel 2, which will be aired on both Cablevision and other television providers,” Nevin wrote in his letter to Dolan. “This debate provides a greater number of viewers than ever before the opportunity to watch a Nassau County Executive debate.”
The Suozzi camp confirmed that he and Mangano will debate on CBS, which Nevin said will air the Sunday before Election Day. It will be the first Nassau County executive debate that News12 Long Island has not broadcast in more than a decade.
A News12 Long Island spokeswoman did not immediately comment to the Press, but issued a statement to Newsday saying: “Viewers expect News 12 Long Island’s election coverage to be thorough, objective and fair.” The Suozzi campaign said the Democratic candidate may be interviewed without Mangano’s participation.