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Despite party warning, Lazio goes after Levy

ALBANY - After being warned publicly not to do so, former Rep. Rick Lazio Friday attacked Suffolk Executive Steve Levy - ignoring the Republican prohibition against disparaging party members.

Lazio's move came shortly after state Republican Committee chairman Edward Cox reminded all candidates of the "11th commandment - thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican."

President Ronald Reagan, whom Cox invoked, made the rule famous.

Cox said Levy had pledged to abide by the rule and called on Lazio to do the same.

But Lazio released a partial transcript of wiretapped conversations between Levy and then-allies Wayne Prospect and Stephen Baranello. The conversations were a crucial element in corruption charges against the aides. Baranello pleaded guilty in 2004 and testified against Prospect, who was convicted of bribe-taking in 2006.

Levy wasn't implicated in either case. But Lazio campaign manager Kevin Fullington noted "the crass language he uses." Levy uses a profanity several times in the conversation, according to the transcript.

Levy Friday accused Lazio of a "penchant to smear" that he said "would backfire."

Levy added, "the transcript, despite the unfortunate salty language, shows how I was looking to replace the old corrupt guard with people of integrity and ability."

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