Spin Cycle

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Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano went to bat for the Independence Party Monday – and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, to some extent – and lashed out at a Democrat rival who has called the minor party a corrupting influence in state politics.

Mangano, a Republican, delivered a blistering attack on Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, saying Jacobs’ criticisms of the minor party were “nothing more than petty politics at an absurd level from a failed leader who likes to bully people.” Jacobs countered that Mangano personally attacked him but failed to address the issue.

Just as notable as what Mangano said is where he said it. He assailed Jacobs while sitting next to Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at a State Capitol news conference about property taxes.

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When the question-and-answer session moved to other topics, Cuomo was asked about Jacobs’ remarks last week in which the Nassau chairman called the Independence Party “corrupt” and said major-party candidates should shun its endorsement. In a letter to elected and political leaders, Jacobs said the party “stands for nothing, supports virtually no political activity and appears to exist only for the financial benefit" of its "formal and informal leadership."

In the letter, Jacobs named Nassau Independence Party chairman Rick Bellando, state chairman Frank MacKay and Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius, who employs Bellando and allows his lavish hotel and catering hall to be used for party screenings, functions and mailings. Melius recently was shot in the head by an unknown gunman in an Oheka parking lot. He is recovering at his Huntington facility.

Cuomo, who received the party’s endorsement in 2010, sought to dodge the question, beginning, “I don’t, um, I don’t consider myself an expert on that” – only to be interrupted by Mangano.

“This is such a joke,” Mangano said as he lashed into Jacobs. “First of all, this is sour grapes. This guy has lost election after election. He lost the county executive race. He lost the comptroller and he’s lost seats in the [county] legislature. .?.?. When Jay Jacobs was getting the Independence Party endorsement, it was a great party. Now because he’s lost some races .?.?. he’s attacking the party.

“This is nothing more than petty politics at an absurd level from a failed leader who likes to bully people,” Mangano said. “That’s what he likes to do, bully people. In his own personal affairs and now he’s trying to bully a party.”

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After jumping in for Cuomo, Mangano was asked if he’s endorsing the Democrat governor. The county executive said it wasn’t the political season yet.

Reached in Nassau, Jacobs said the personal barbs don’t address the substance of his complaints.

“This has been a continuing tactic, first by Frank MacKay and now continued by his ally, Ed Mangano,” Jacobs said.

“What I think [it] makes clear, is that in none of these opportunities have they ever attempted to deny any allegation I have made against this party,” Jacobs said. “What they do is attack me. They answer by personal attack on me rather than answer the merits of the argument I make. To me, that validates my argument.

“If it makes Ed Mangano feel better, you can tell him I’m the worse guy in the world,” he continued. “But the fact remains is this party is corrupt .?.?. All evil in Nassau County politics goes through Oheka Castle, and Mangano is one of its most frequent guests.”