3:12 pm Oct. 26, 20111
When former Brooklyn Democratic county leader Clarence Norman turned 60 years old last month, a top aide in city comptroller John Liu's office sent out Facebook invitations to a party to mark the occasion.
The Facebook messages were forwarded to me by a reader.
Norman was convicted of extortion, grand larceny and other charges back in 2006, forcing him from the Assembly office he held and, more importantly, from his powerful post as head of the party in Kings County.
(Before he went to prison, I attended a party for Norman at which he said, "With all the support in this room, I wish I had 12 of you on my jury," and "How many people can be convicted on two felony counts and have the kind of support that I do in this room?")
The person who sent the invitations is Carmen Martinez, who is a "director" in the comptroller's office. Cell phone and email messages left for Martinez were not immediately returned.
A spokesman for the comptroller's office, Matthew Sweeney, said, "It’s not the business of this office to comment on what an employee does in his or her personal time as long as the City’s rules and procedures governing employment were not broken."
There are in fact no rules against current public employees in good standing associating with former public employees in poor standing. But the visuals aren't great.
Liu is at the moment facing questions about his own campaign-finance accounting after a front-page New York Times story revealed that some of his donors could not be found or denied giving Liu money. Liu has said his books are "in order" and is conducting an internal review to find out what happened.
The invitations were sent out before the Times story ran.
Here are two of the messages:
Please note that Clarence's party starts at 9PM on Friday, September 9th and ends at 2AM so it carries into Saturday, September 10th. Because the date for Friday somehow is not reflected in the event notice, there is some confusion about what date the party will actually be held. Please mark your calendar accordingly for Friday, September 9th starting at 9PM and ending at 2AM. I look forward to seeing each and everyone of you.
If you have any questions or need additional information about Clarence Norman's 60th Birthday Celebration, please contact Carmen L. Martinez directly via email at [redacted]@aol.com or by phone at 347-XXX-XXXX. This is the best way to get a prompt reply. Clarence is so looking forward to seeing each and everyone of you on Friday, as am I. Thanks.