Nassau County officials offer several reasons why moving more than 40 political appointees into competitive union positions isn’t a political move, but the timing and the track record make the explanations ring hollow.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, under federal indictment on corruption charges, is not expected to seek a third term in November. The timing of the personnel moves, which occurred before July 1, means the employees will end their six-month probation period before a new county executive takes office next year.

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The biggest group of employees reclassified is composed of 26 customer service representatives who have often been patronage hires of either party. Also included are 12 deputy county attorneys, who will be reclassified as assistant county attorneys. County officials say the attorneys’ resumes will substitute for normal testing to qualify them for the positions, and the officials say the customer service representatives will have to be tested at some point to retain their jobs. Also shifted were a half-dozen employees who have taken unfilled Civil Service positions, including a close assistant to Mangano.

It’s standard (but wrong) for outgoing leaders to protect a few employees, politicians say, but this move dwarfs any previous shifts. Mangano’s staffers say the jobs should have been Civil Service all along, and this will just smooth the operations of the county.

But news of the shifts came the same week it was announced that Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin is joining the GOP-run Town of Oyster Bay as its $163,000-a-year spokesman. Taken altogether, it just looks like Nassau GOP Inc. doing its business as usual, even if it means giving taxpayers the business.