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Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Dem chief, reveals anxiety bouts

Credit: JAMES ESCHER

Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer shocked the party faithful at a Babylon party dinner last week when he acknowledged having suffered from serious “anxiety attacks” last summer that required medical help — and credited two officials ”who saved my life.”

Schaffer called up town board member Tony Martinez, his deputy supervisor, to stand beside him, saying he “acted like my brother and I couldn’t have got through it without him.”

Then Schaffer called up County Executive Steve Bellone with whom, sources say, relations have often been strained.

“If he had not done what he did to me last summer, I wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed,” Schaffer told the audience, without providing further details.

When a flummoxed Bellone got to the podium, he said only that he “was glad to help.”

Town party sources said Schaffer didn’t disclose that what prompted the crisis was Bellone reneging on an agreement to help pay for key county races last year. That forced Schaffer to scramble, to loan the party $80,000 , and to solicit allies for another $115,000 for tight contests. Bellone, meanwhile, had $1.8 million left in his campaign coffers after re-election.

When the loans were first disclosed last year in campaign finance reports, Schaffer never mentioned the anxiety ailment or the dispute. He only said he did not ask Bellone for money because it was better to seek loans “with people with whom I have a personal relationship.”

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