Just after Nassau County NY Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, delivered his state of the county address on Monday, Republican members of the Nassau County Legislature called on him to resign. Mangano was arrested last October 20th on federal corruption charges.
Mangano said that his party’s members of the County Legislature have supported him from the day of his arrest until today and that their change of heart is motivated by political posturing.
He’s right. But they’re right too, finally. I would have liked it better if they were right before last November 1st. Republican members of the Nassau County Legislature, what took you so long?
Perhaps the GOP legislators revised position came about because last week, Hempstead Town Councilman and Deputy Town Supervisor Edward Ambrosino was arrested and charged with evading something like 250 thousand dollars in income taxes on legal fees he received. I’m guessing here that with two prominent officials facing federal charges GOP officials are concerned that it will impact this November’s election.
Ambrosino should step down too. Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino did replace Ambrosino as Deputy Supervisor promptly, and also called for his resignation from the town council. Ambrosino should listen to Santino.
Sadly, accusations of political corruption, and non-political corruption tied to politicians in New York State are neither isolated nor restricted to one party. There’s a long list of public officials, on Long Island, in Albany, and in both parties, who have been convicted or have federal charges pending against them.
To be sure, unless and until these people are convicted or enter a guilty plea, they have a constitutional right to be presumed innocent. Still, if a U.S. Attorney formally accuses you of a crime, your chances of getting acquitted are very small—much less than ten percent.
Someone elected to public office is said to occupy a “position of trust.” It’s hard to trust someone who’s charged with a felony. It’s also hard to be a leader when your followers stop following you. So, I think elected officials should be a special case. Yes, you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty, but if you are an elected official who is charged with a crime, I believe the honorable thing is to resign and concentrate on preparing your defense.