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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Dems keep Lazio's fat TARP bonus on shelf

While potential Senate rivals Kirsten Gillibrand and Harold Ford Jr. slam each other as corporate tools, fellow Democrats have put off blasting Rick Lazio, Republican candidate for governor, for his own fat but so far little-noted banking bonus.

Lazio revealed in December that he collected a $1.3-million bonus, in addition to salary, for his services in 2008 as an executive at JPMorgan - which got $25 billion in federal bailout funds that year. The company reportedly returned its so-called TARP money last April.

Jimmy Vielkind, then of the Observer's Politicker, picked up on the disclosure at the time.

The former Suffolk Congressman has expressed pride in his role at the investment bank and its relatively solid reputation for being well-run.

Jay Jacobs, state and Nassau Democratic chairman, said, "I know it [the bonus] is something we will use and bring out at the right time."

Of course, the Lazio camp would likely call it old news. But for now the Democratic nomination for governor remains unsettled. Each Democratic contender might treat the Lazio bonus differently when the time comes.

Last week Gillibrand accused Ford of trying to "deflect attention away from the simple, straightforward questions about whether he dodged paying New York taxes on his . . . bonus" from Merrill Lynch, where he's on leave. Calling her a hypocrite, Ford asked if Gillibrand "filed and paid all New York taxes on all New York income when she was a tobacco lawyer."

Some Democratic leaders privately fret that Gillibrand's attacks on Ford will only encourage him to announce a run. As state chair, Jacobs had already urged both camps to cool it when he added last week, "I certainly would remind everybody that getting into those kinds of things is only going to be damaging, not helpful."

Jonathan Tasini, a declared Democratic candidate, chided his competitors: "Children, children, can we pause for a moment and remember that we are in the midst of the greatest economic crisis in our lifetimes?"

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