The FBI charged Edward Walsh in January with getting the Suffolk sheriff's office to pay him for hours he did not work. Six months later, public life for the county Conservative Party chairman appears to go on as before.
Walsh denied the charges, which are still pending. He rejected a plea offer. He returned to work in April despite a previous move by Sheriff Vincent DeMarco to fire him.
So in Manhattan Thursday night, Walsh mingled casually at the state Conservative Party's annual dinner featuring a half-hour address from Carly Fiorina, a Republican presidential candidate. As listed in the program, Walsh remains one of eight state vice chairmen.
During the cocktail hour, Walsh said he would "absolutely" hang on. He said his organization bought two tables for the dinner. As to presidential endorsements, he said, "I'm not sure right now. I think we're a long way from that decision." He called Fiorina "a brilliant woman with a great background. So we'll see what happens."
Locally, he said, "We've got a whole lot of other races to pick too. Suffolk County will be quite busy" with legislative races and "keeping control of Islip and Brookhaven" on the agenda.
Veteran state chairman Michael Longhas always let local and county organizations maintain autonomy. Despite calls from critics within and outside the party to move against Walsh, Long has maintained a public position he first stated in January -- that Walsh is innocent until proven guilty and the justice system should determine "where it takes us."
FORGET HIM NOT:Also on hand at the Conservative fundraiser was Harry Wilson, the 2010 Republican candidate for comptroller who drew more than 2 million votes statewide when narrowly defeated by incumbent DemocratThomas DiNapoli. Several acquaintances on hand said they expect Wilson, now running a corporate-turnaround firm called Maeva Group in White Plains, to try again for statewide office.
SURPRISE SNUB:Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's move to oust Allen Cappelli, a visibly active Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member, struck several transit insiders as gratuitous.
The Staten Islander was particularly outspoken on matters affecting suburban commuters. Small example: Six months into the stunning year and a half it took for Nassau Executive Edward Mangano to get a member appointed to represent his county, Cappelli at least expressed interest in getting the post filled.