Politics: Dems slam GOP over misleading bail claims as Nassau DA race heats up

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Bail has become a flashpoint in the Nassau County district attorney’s race as Democrats accuse Republican rivals of inaccurately describing justice reforms.

Democrats say Anne Donnelly, the GOP candidate vying to become the county’s top prosecutor, has repeatedly mischaracterized recently Dem-led changes to New York’s bail laws in interviews and social media posts.

“Donnelly is either lying to mislead voters or she doesn’t know simple facts,” said Nassau County Democrats chairman Jay Jacobs. “Under Anne Donnelly, Nassau is going to lose cases and release more criminals onto the street when she gets the basics of criminal law wrong.

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“One week into the campaign, and she has already proven she’s unfit to be DA,” he added.

a person smiling for the camera: Anne Donnelly, candidate for Nassau County District Attorney. © Provided by New York Daily News Anne Donnelly, candidate for Nassau County District Attorney.

Anne Donnelly, Republican candidate for Nassau County District Attorney.

Donnelly, a prosecuting attorney who has worked in the Nassau County district attorney’s office for more than three decades, is squaring off against Democratic Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau) after former Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas became a New York State Court of Appeals judge in June.

The Republican candidate’s Facebook page contains numerous posts about bail reforms enacted by the Democrat-led state Legislature, including false claims that people accused of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter “are released.”

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“Gunshots up 39% in Nassau,” she posted on Facebook earlier this week. “Felons freed by Senator Todd Kaminsky’s bail reform (a total failure) are part of the problem.”

The Legislature approved sweeping changes to New York’s bail laws in 2019, limiting pre-trial detention for most non-violent crimes. The overhauls were amended last year to make more offenses bail-eligible, such as criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter.

Donnelly’s posts and public comments often link Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor and one of several moderate Long Island Dems who worked to tweak the reforms last year, and his role in Albany to recent spikes in shootings and crimes in Nassau.

The Nassau Dems are planning to launch an ad campaign they say is aimed at “dispelling Donnelly’s lies.”

Republicans, however, doubled down when asked about Donnelly’s posts and public comments.

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“The bottom line is that people have been murdered, raped, stabbed, beaten and victimized by hate crimes because of the cashless bail law that Todd Kaminsky wrote,” Nassau County Republican Committee chairman Joseph Cairo said. “Anne Donnelly has spent her career as a prosecutor, putting dangerous criminals behind bars, while Todd Kaminsky spent his time in the Senate coming up with new ways to turn dangerous criminals loose from jail.”

a man wearing a suit and tie: New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau) © Tim Roske New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau)

New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau) (Tim Roske/)

The back-and-forth over bail is nothing new as Republicans similarly focused on public safety ahead of last year’s general election.

Despite the GOP appearing to have the upper hand in controlling the narrative for much of the campaign, Democrats won several tight races across the state and secured a supermajority in the Senate.

Republicans at all levels continue to argue that recent surges in shootings and violent crime are directly linked to criminal justice reforms.

Last week, Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt (R-Erie County) oddly appeared hurt his own party’s message by inadvertently admitting there’s a lack of evidence.

Ortt penned a letter to the State Office of Court Administration calling on officials to start collecting and analyzing data stemming from the new bail laws to help the public better gauge whether there is a connection to increased gun violence.

“The unfortunate reality is our state is in the midst of a self-inflicted crime crisis,” Ortt said. “In order to come up with solutions, we must fully understand the consequences of recent policies. I believe that by repealing these policies, and increasing support and funding for law enforcement, we can reverse this sharp increase in violence.”

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