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Ciampoli defends upstate work despite Democrat complaints

It was no surprise to politicians from either side of the aisle to learn that Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli was upstate Tuesday overseeing the ballot count in a tight election that could decide which party controls the State Senate.

Ciampoli, after all, had been the Republican State Senate’s leading election lawyer for years before he came to Nassau.

Still, the county legislature’s Democratic leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), in a press release Wednesday, scolded Ciampoli for leaving Nassau when its residents remain devastated by superstorm Sandy.

“I find it deplorable that John Ciampoli, our county attorney and chief law enforcement officer, is taking time away from the Nassau residents he is supposed to serve in order to count ballots and most likely to suppress voters in Ulster County,” Abrahams said. “If Mr. Ciampoli still has the urge to volunteer his time, I know of residents in Long Beach, Freeport and Baldwin that would cetainly welcome his assistance.”

Ciampoli defended his elections activity in an interview with Newsday on Wednesday.

He said all of the lawyers in  his county office are allow to practice law privately if it doesn’t conflict with Nassau’s interests. And though he said he was taking personal time Tuesday, he said he spent most of his time on the phone to Nassau officials.

But most important, Ciampoli said, “I think what I am doing is entirely consistent with the interests of the county. I do not know how to calculate the loss to Nassau County if Dean Skelos is not returned as majority leader.”

Skelos, of Rockville Centre, is barely hanging onto his Senate leadership post,  with the election of 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats. In the last race to be decided,  Republican candidate Assemb. George Amedore is 112 votes ahead — depending on which party is counting — of Democratic candidate Cecilia Tkaczyk.  But the counting of about 800 challenged ballots — mostly from Democratic Ulster County — will be decided in Supreme Court.

However, several Democratic senators have said they are likely to side with Skelos in a leadership fight.

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