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Recently, Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli once again assumed his off-duty role as a leading election lawyer. This time he did so on behalf of Sen. Steve Saland, the veteran Poughkeepsie Republican who’s been declared winner, pending final certification, of a razor-close primary widely attributed to his legislative vote last year for same-sex marriage.
Ciampoli said Monday that he did the work while taking vacation time -- as he had in March when he represented GOP Senate contender David Storobin in a Brooklyn courtroom. Supporters of neophyte conservative insurgent Neil DiCarlo, who's sought to oust Saland, took note of Ciampoli’s court appearance on Friday in Carmel, then in Dutchess County state Supreme Court on Monday. Ciampoli said he also made Board of Elections appearances involving the recanvassing crucial to determining a winner.
DiCarlo supporters had asked aloud if Ciampoli was on Nassau County time. There are civil-service rules in some jurisdictions against employees who are lawyers doing this kind of part-time representation, but apparently none in Nassau that would apply to Ciampoli. The county attorney said he would do this one pro-bono, expressing a personal loyalty to Saland, and would put in for only for gasoline and parking.
“I cannot tell you with certainty that he’s the greatest legislator in the history of New York State, but I have known an awful lot of legislators and I never knew one better than him,” Ciampoli said of Saland, for whom he once worked as chief-of-staff.
In the wider context, Saland’s nomination is viewed by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) as a key component in holding the seat against Democratic candidate Terry Gibson in the general election in November. Skelos is seeking to build on the slim majority the Republicans won back at the polls in 2010. Before his appointment as county attorney by Executive Ed Mangano, Ciampoli long represented the state GOP.