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Opponent wants Sen. Kenneth LaValle’s name off SBU stadium

Carl MacGowan

The Democrat trying to unseat longtime Republican State Sen. Kenneth LaValle has filed legal papers alleging LaValle receives an illegal campaign benefit from the Stony Brook University football stadium that bears his name.

Gregory-John Fischer filed a notice of claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — in State Supreme Court in Riverhead claiming the university named the stadium for LaValle after he secured $22 million in state funds for the venue’s construction.

Fischer also said the stadium gives LaValle an unfair advantage over those who run against him.

“It is ludicrous for sitting legislators (seeking re-election or otherwise) to have public structures named for them for the de facto benefit of their personal political careers,” Fischer said in the notice of claim. He called the naming of public structures after lawmakers “a pernicious political activity … where government may fund its own self-election with public monies.”

Fischer wants LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) removed from the Nov. 8 ballot and asked that LaValle’s name be removed from the stadium. The arena was opened and named after LaValle in 2002.

LaValle, who is seeking his 21st two-year term, denied any wrongdoing in an interview Wednesday.

“There are, throughout the state, a number of things that are named after legislators,” LaValle said. “No one has indicated that there was any quid pro quo … The naming of a stadium is not a donation in kind, or in any other way.”

In the notice of claim, he said his name should be added to media accounts of Stony Brook University sporting events that mention the stadium’s name.

“They named it after him because he gave them a lot of money. Under the law, that’s a bribe,” Fischer said. “It’s always been inappropriate.”

Fischer, a business and political consultant who has run unsuccessful campaigns for local Riverhead Town and school board offices, previously has sued the Long Island Power Authority and conducted his own audits of Riverhead school district budgets.

In addition to LaValle, the notice of claim names as defendants the State University of New York and Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, as well as the state and Suffolk County boards of elections, and other state, county and Brookhaven Town agencies.