Trouble brewing in southern Brooklyn politics

In the wake of indictments of two Republican Party officials charged in an alleged bribery scheme to get Queens Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith onto the ballot as a Republican in this year’s mayoral race, Brooklyn Republican State Senator Marty Golden has called for the U.S. Attorney’s office to release the name of one GOP official dubbed in the indictment “Chairman Number One.”

Among those indicted were Smith, Queens Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran, Bronx GOP Chair Jay Savino and Queens GOP Vice Chair Vincent Tabone, plus two officials from Rockland County.

“Descriptions within the sealed complaint raise serious questions concerning the integrity of said County Chairman,” Golden wrote in an April 11 letter to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Although this individual has not been indicted, I believe the 300,000 plus members and hundreds of activists within the City’s Republican Party require the publication of such information to allow them to determine if said individual should remain a leader within the Republican Party.”

While Chairman Number One was not charged with anything, Golden contends that he should have provided information to law enforcement about what had transpired.

“The indictment doesn’t point to any wrongdoing on the part of Chairman Number One,” Golden said, “but it does point to the individual being part of conversations or negotiations that went on for some period of time, and nobody seemed to think there was anything wrong.

“I think there’s a cloud over the leadership in the city,” he went on. “I think we have to clean house and get some changes.”

Golden said that he didn’t know if Chairman Number One was longtime ally Craig Eaton – the chair of the Kings County Republican Party – with whom he has diverged over mayoral endorsements (Golden supports Joe Lhota, while Eaton supports John Catsimatidis). “I hope it’s not,” Golden continued. “We’re friends. Our families are friends. We come from the same community.”

Nonetheless, he contended, “It’s time for change, time for people to get confidence back in the Republican Party. It’s about a change in leadership for Kings County. I’m not out there beating the bushes, but the party needs a change in direction.”

Asked whether he thought Eaton should step down, Golden said, “It’s up to Craig. I definitely want Chairman Number One to step down, whoever that is.”

Eaton, for his part, told this paper, “It’s disturbing that Senator Golden would stoop to the level that he has to insinuate or imply anything about my reputation or my integrity. I will not stoop to that level since I have served my church, my community and the Republican Party with distinction for many years.”

Adding that, “In my six years as chair, we have re-elected” Golden and other members of the borough’s Republican delegation, and “ were instrumental” in getting former Congressmember Bob Turner and former State Senator David Storobin elected, Eaton added, “I stand by my record and am proud of my accomplishments.”

Indeed, Eaton, Dan Isaacs (chair of the Manhattan GOP) and Phil Ragusa (Queens GOP chair) fired off a letter to Golden in response to his letter to Bharara, chiding him for his actions.

“It is outrageous that you would insert yourself into the midst of an ongoing federal investigation,” they wrote. “As a former member of the New York City Police Department you should know better; you should allow law enforcement to do their job.

“Perhaps you should be more judicious in your political mudslinging,” they added. “We can’t imagine that you would be thrilled if a county chairman called for your resignation the next time one of your fellow legislators is charged with a nefarious deed.”

Ed Cox, the chair of the New York State Republican Party, urged caution, noting, “As stated in the letter, it’s clear, from a close reading of the complaint, that there is no indication that Chairman Number One was contacted or, if he was contacted, that he did anything wrong.

“With respect to Craig, he’s one of our really extraordinary chairs,” Cox added. “He’s always been honorable in the things he’s done and he’s been very effective.”

Local Republican Tim Cochrane, who ran for Congress in 2008 on the Conservative line, praised Golden. “Hands down,” he told this paper, “Marty is the least self-serving politician I know, no matter what the consequences. I’ve seen it time and again. I’ve known him for 20 years and we haven’t always been on the same page but Marty – right, wrong or indifferent — gives it to you the way he thinks it is.”

For local Republicans, the situation is painful. Said one, “I’m close to both of them. I hold both these guys in the highest regard. I hope they can resolve the issues between them.”

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