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Koo lives on L.I., not in Queens: Stavisky suit

Attorneys for state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) demanded this week that her Republican challenger be thrown off the ballot on the grounds that his primary residence is in Port Washington, L.I. - not Queens.

A lawsuit filed in Queens Civil Court last week claims Peter Koo, Stavisky's first Republican challenger since she took office in 1999, has not been living in the 16th State Senate District where he is running and has instead used an address in Port Washington in Nassau County as his primary home.

"We finished our case today and we basically proved that he is a carpetbagger," Michael Reich of the Queens County Democratic Party, said Monday afternoon.

Reich said the Stavisky campaign presented evidence showing that Koo has several cars registered at 32 Angler Lane in Port Washington, has continued to receive tax rebates there and recently renewed his teaching certification using the Nassau County address as his residence.

Reich said Koo's daughter and wife are also registered voters in Nassau County.

New York state law requires that state senators and Assembly members have primary residences within the district they serve.

Stavisky's state Senate district covers Flushing, Whitestone, Beechhurst, Bay Terrace, Pomonok and parts of Elmhurst, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens and Steinway. Koo owns an apartment on 41st Road in downtown Flushing, but the Stavisky campaign contends it is seldom used.

"He has no records, bills or anything that shows he has any relationship with the apartment in Queens other than the fact that they own it," Reich said.

Koo's campaign manager, Oliver Tan, dismissed the allegations.

"This is a nuisance lawsuit. All they're trying to do is distract us from campaigning, from talking about the issues," Tan said. "We want to talk about the issues, and we were hoping that the current state senator would want to do that as well."

Mark Fang, Koo's attorney, could not be reached for comment. Tan said a decision on the lawsuit could be made as early as Thursday.

Campaign finance records show Koo has gotten an exceptional start on fund-raising since announcing his candidacy for the state Senate seat in February, raising $227,108 during the last six months. Koo also has spent about half of that total, leaving him with $114,239.76 on hand as of July 15, according to the records.

Stavisky's fund-raising and expenditures report for the last six months show the nine-year incumbent has $214,828.01 on hand to wage a campaign against Koo, who is the first major Republican challenger to face the incumbent since she took office in 1999.

Stavisky has cruised to victory during each of the last four elections and Republican officials are hoping that Koo's prominent presence in a state Senate district, which has a large Asian population, will play to his advantage this November.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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