A Long Island politician in a competitive race for Congress has asked a billionaire couple to cover at least $50,000 of his college tuition.
Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, the Democratic frontrunner in the August 23 primary for the seat representing the North Shore of Long Islandlisted in recent financial disclosure documents that claim billionaire investor Bryan Lawrence and his wife Elizabeth are a “creditor” who provided him with a “student loan” totaling $50,001 to $100,000 in September 2020.
Under federal election law, Lafazan can accept such help because it predates the start of his congressional bid earlier this year.
However, election law experts say it certainly violates the spirit of the law limiting individual donations – or potentially worse – given that records show Lafazan was wealthy enough to funnel $166,000 of his own money into his coffers. the country. They say he could have easily used that same money to pay off his student loans.
Besides the loan, the Lawrences donated a total of $20,300 to Lafazan’s campaign in Congress. Records also show the campaign returned Bryan Lawrence $5,800 because he exceeded the maximum amount allowed during the election cycle.
Jerry Goldfeder, a longtime election lawyer, told the Post that the loan “could be interpreted” by the Federal Election Commission as an “indirect payment” or “indirect transfer of money” to Lafazan, which allowed him to contribute cash to his campaign that was “legitimately not his.”
“The FEC looks very carefully at a candidate’s sources of money when making huge contributions or loans to their own campaign, because it must be legitimately their own money,” he said.
The FEC declined to comment.
The 28-year-old county legislator is also employed as an adviser for Northwell Health, and he said he earned more than $184,000 last year. He holds a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, according to his LinkedIn page.
Kim Devlin, an adviser for Lafazan’s campaign, defended the arrangement with the Lawrences, saying “the facts are that Josh was able to get a college loan from a friend instead of a bank or a school loan company. He disclosed it fully in his public financial statement, and it was a loan that was made long before his run for Congress.
Lafazan seeks to become one of the youngest members of Congress. He entered the race for the 3rd District seat – which includes parts of northeast Queens and northwest and central Nassau County – after Democratic incumbent Tom Suozzi decided not to run. re-elect and mount a failed gubernatorial campaign.
As of June 30, records show Lafazan had raised $1.53 million for the race — the most of any Democratic primary candidate. Other nominees include Robert Zimmerman, a public relations expert and longtime member of the Democratic National Committee, and Jon Kaiman, deputy Suffolk County executive.
Republican George Santos, a financier, will be the GOP nominee. He lost to Suozzi two years ago, but experts say Republicans have a real chance of taking the seat this year without the incumbent running.