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Suffolk GOP lawmakers attack Timothy Sini’s DA campaign

Suffolk County acting Police Commissioner Timothy Sini is

Suffolk County acting Police Commissioner Timothy Sini is shown during an interview with Newsday at police headquarters in Yaphank on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Three Republican county legislators Tuesday attacked Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini for reversing himself and running for district attorney, saying the fight against gangs and opioid abuse should be his priorities.

The lawmakers noted Sini’s testimony at his confirmation hearing in February 2016 that he would not seek the $194,000-a-year job as top prosecutor. Sini said then: “I have no intentions of running for district attorney . . . I am not running for district attorney in 2017.”

“I feel a little betrayed,” said Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset). She said she doesn’t see how Sini can both run for office and do the round-the-clock job of police commissioner.

“The police commissioner has to make a decision,” Kennedy said.

Legis. Kevin McCaffrey, GOP caucus leader, said he asked Sini the question about his career plans because of concerns that he would try to use the commissioner’s post as a springboard to elected office. McCaffrey narrowly beat Sini in a highly contested county legislature race in 2015.

“At a time when we are asking state and federal law enforcement to help put in more resources, how can we have a police commissioner who is diverted from the day-to-day operations of the department?” asked McCaffrey, of Lindenhurst.

“It’s disappointing and telling that Tim Sini started his public-safety career with a lie,” said Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga).

Sini declined to comment. But his campaign chairman, David Kelley, called the criticism “politically motivated.”

Kelley said Sini initially had “no intention of running.” But after seeing “the terrible shape” the DA’s office was in, he realized Suffolk needed “a chief law enforcement officer who could serve the county well,” Kelley said.

“Far from feeling betrayed, they should welcome someone . . . with the capacity to right the ship that has gone seriously adrift and has a cloud hanging over it,” said Kelley.

Sini and his supporters also have said he would limit his campaigning to after office hours and would not take any direct role in fundraising.

Sini’s interest in running for district attorney became apparent in February when he appeared at a screening for the office before the Suffolk Conservative Party executive committee. He declined then to comment on his interest in the job.

On Friday, Sini formally announced his candidacy for district attorney minutes after Democratic District Attorney Thomas J. Spota announced that he would not seek re-election. Sini said he would not step down from his $162,000-a-year police post.

Without saying so directly, Sini also hinted he was ready to run a primary, saying he would “do whatever it takes to get on the ballot . . . I intend to win.”

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