Donors Want Money Back From Dem-Turned-Republican

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy switched parties to run for governor

By BETH FOUHY
|  Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:15 PM EDT
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Donors Want Money Back From Dem-Turned-Republican

AP

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy poses in Albany, N.Y., on Monday, March 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

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Some Democratic donors who contributed to Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's past campaigns want their money back now that he has switched parties to run for governor as a Republican.

A group of contributors planned to discuss the matter at a news conference Wednesday organized by the state Democratic Party. Charlie King, the party's new executive director and a close adviser Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, was scheduled to appear at the event.

One disgruntled donor, former Long Island Democratic activist Marsha Laufer, wrote a letter to Levy shortly after he declared his candidacy asking him to return the money she had given to his campaigns.

"Those contributions were made in good faith with the confidence that we shared a world view. Your change of affiliation indicates that is not the case," Laufer said in a letter dated April 10.

Levy, a popular county official known for strict fiscal discipline, announced last month that he would run for governor as a Republican after being courted by the state GOP and the Republican Governor's Association.

He was recruited in part because of his hefty bank account, accumulated over two successful campaigns for county executive in 2003 and 2007. He had $4.1 million on hand in January, far more than former U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio, his top GOP rival.

Since entering the race, Levy has been pressing his case to Republican county officials around the state, many of whom are skeptical about his party conversion. He needs the support of more than 50 percent of the delegates to the state party convention in June to win a spot on the Republican ballot.

Levy was expected to campaign in St. Lawrence County on Wednesday and would not be at his county executive office in Hauppauge, where the Democrats planned to hold their news conference, campaign spokeswoman Rene Babich said.

"People gave me money based on my promises to control government spending, and I'm one of the rare public officials who has fulfilled his promises," Levy said in a statement.

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