Smithtown Councilman Robert Creighton said he will abstain from voting on Kings Park pre-cast concrete's request to legalize their business due to concerns over campaign contributions he's received by KPE II's law firm.
Creighton, who is running for Smithtown supervisor, has taken more than $3,000 in campaign donations from Farrell Fritz's Political Action Committee, the law firm representing KPE II, located in Kings Park off Old Northport Road and Lawrence Road since 2010.
The town board is scheduled to vote on KPE II's request to legalize 13 industrial business uses on Thursday night. Smithtown's Board of Zoning Appeals denied the application Feb. 12.
"I’m going to abstain on the matter because of the appearance of conflict. I don’t think there is conflict, I vote based on conscience not where my son works," Creighton said.
Creighton's son, Robert C. Creighton, is a partner who works for the Uniondale-based law firm. Farrell Fritz also has offices in Hauppauge, Bridgehampton and New York City.
The councilman said he runs an annual golf outing for his son's law firm, which he estimated has more than 200 employees. The campaign contributions have been a result of his personal ties to the firm, not the KPE case, according to Creighton.
"Have I done something wrong by taking contributions from my son’s law firm?" Creighton said.
Kings Park and Commack residents complained of explosive-like noises and odorscoming from KPE II's property at the Nov. 27 public hearing. They have formed a group, Old Northport Road Lawrence Road Task Force, that has circulated emails calling for people attend Thursday night's vote.
Councilman Ed Wehrheim has also taken $800 in campaign contributions from Farrell Fritz law offices.
Creighton said no residents have contacted him or his office wanting to talk about his campaign contributions or the KPE II decision. He has invited anyone concerned to call him and set up a meeting.
John Jay Lavalle, chairman of Suffolk County's Republican committee, called residents questioning of Creighton's ethics "ridiculous nonsense."
"I get it that there’s residents who are opposed to such application but to make such outlandish allegations where then’s full disclosure to the public is nonsense," LaValle said.
LaValle said New York has strict laws on elected officials' full disclosure of all campaign contributions, strictly adhered to by all candidates. He said residents' knowledge of Creighton's donations is a clear sign the system is working.
The GOP leader said Creighton's choice to abstain is based on the public's perception there may be conflict, and not a real issue.
"He’s a very ethical man and will always conduct himself appropriately. Always has, always will and that’s why residents place so much trust on him," LaValle said.
Creighton also admitted he's also taken small donations, less than $100 each, from USA Recycling Facility and USA Environmental Resource, owned by Anthony Leteri. Leteri has a pending application to rezone 4.6 acres from residential to wholesale industry before Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals.
The councilman said he wasn't aware he had accepted donations from Leteri, who is a long-time Kings Park friend before he ran for office..