Croci's Conservative Connections

Croci's Conservative Connections

Croci's Conservative Connections
August 11, 2014

Tom Croci’s state Senate bid will likely be bolstered by having his name on the Conservative Party line, which translates into a relatively small but potentially pivotal share of the vote come November. 

But the third party could also open the Suffolk County Republican to political attacks, thanks to two separate scandals that threaten to engulf the two local Conservative Party officials who authorized Croci to run on the line.

One of those local party officials, Michael Torres, has been linked to a toxic dumping scandal in Brentwood that has become a central issue in the race. Another candidate for the 3rd Senate District, Anthony Senft, dropped out amid accusations of involvement in the illegal dumping of debris in a local park. Senft's exit paved the way for Croci’s candidacy.

Democrats have since sought to link Croci, the Islip town supervisor, to the scandal as well, raising questions about campaign contributions from the company accused of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Croci’s likely Democratic foe, longtime environmentalist Adrienne Esposito, has continued to hammer away on the issue. Newsday reported earlier this month that the dumping is under investigation by the county district attorney.

The other local official that signed Croci’s authorization, Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman Edward Walsh, was under investigation for allegations that he billed the county for time he didn’t work in his job as a lieutenant in the county sheriff’s office, Newsday reported earlier this year.

Walsh and Torres, the local party secretary, signed the required form—called a Wilson-Pakula—that allows Croci to run on the Conservative line even though he is a registered Republican. In fact, there is no other way for Croci to get on the Conservative Party line within Suffolk County except to have Walsh and Torres sign the form on his behalf.

Brent Littlefield, Croci’s campaign manager, defended the candidate, saying that the dumping scandal erupted while Croci was serving overseas as a commander in the Navy.

“He’s made it very clear that he’s going to work to fix the problem and is already doing so as the supervisor, and that he’s going to hold those responsible for their actions,” Littlefield said, “and he’s doing that as the supervisor of Islip and will continue to do so, and was dismayed and outraged by the fact that illegal dumping had occurred while he was in uniform overseas.”

“Any attempt to try to draw some type of tangential connection between Tom Croci and other issues are just political in nature,” he added, “and Tom Croci is not playing politics—he is actually trying to serve the people of Long Island, first as Islip supervisor, and then as their next senator, to solve this dumping problem and to fix it once and for all.”

The seat is being vacated by Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin, who is running for Congress, and has been aggressively contested as Democrats see Long Island as a key battleground in its efforts to retake the Senate majority this fall.

A copy of the Wilson-Pakula is posted below: 

Croci by City & State NY

Jon Lentz
is City & State’s editor-in-chief.