GOP touts Antonacci as 'most qualified' comptroller candidate in decades

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Spin Cycle

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RYE BROOK -- New York Republicans endorsed Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci for state comptroller on Wednesday, calling him the most qualified candidate for the job in decades.

Antonacci, 49, is a certified public account and lawyer. Republicans said that’s a perfect background for a state comptroller who invests the state pension fund and audits state and local government spending.

By comparison, Democrat Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, like past comptrollers, had a career in politics before getting the statewide job. DiNapoli was a veteran state assemblyman before he was appointed to the job in 2007, replacing Democrat Alan Hevesi who resigned after being snared in scandals.

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State Republican Chairman Ed Cox called Antonacci, who is in his second term in Onondaga County, “the most qualified person in my memory to be the next comptroller of the state of New York.”

The comptroller’s office, however, already relies on a cadre of experienced, nonpartisan experts to forecast the economy and invest the massive state pension for local and state workers. When Antonacci entered the race, DiNapoli welcomed him to the fray, striking a tone for a less combative race.

Antonacci responded similarly on Wednesday.

“Tom DiNapoli is a nice guy and clobbering each other won’t make New York State great again,” the Syracuse-area Republican said. But the Republican quickly added: “We must discuss the differences between me and Mr. DiNapoli.”

Antonacci faulted DiNapoli for his approval of elements of a $103,000 secret settlement using public money crafted by Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) to end settle sexual harassment claims against ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez. The comptroller’s office and attorney general’s office -- each headed by Democrats -- provided routine approval of the settlement identified as legal fees. DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman denied they knew details of the 2013 settlement.

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“Being a lawyer in this job also means something,” Antonacci said in his acceptance speech. “With my background, I would have understood the difference between legal fees and a contract settlement … that would never have happened on my watch.”

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