BY MARC MOSS
A long-held rivalry between fellow Clarkstown Republicans Ed Day, the current Rockland County executive, and Frank Sparaco, a Rockland legislator, Clarkstown town employee and influential political organizer within party circles, has turned into a general conflagration and power struggle within the Republican Party. The result of the power struggle may have an impact on party politics within Rockland County for years to come.
Initially the battle was being waged through a third party- Clarkstown Chairman Robert Axelrod-whom Sparaco is attempting to unseat from power by elected new committeemen that would be loyal to a different chairman. However, after a turn of events, both Sparaco and Day publicly announced their animosity toward each other this week taking an inside battle and making it a more public one.
The new developments started last week at a meeting of the Rockland County Legislature where Day’s recent veto of a draft of the new county charter was being discussed. Sparaco unleashed a tirade, stating that he was fed up having his Republicanism defined for him by others and complained that certain bloggers (namely Michael Hull of New City) are allegedly holding undue sway over elected officials in Rockland County.
Sparaco, a former term limit supporter, exclaimed, “This vote has nothing to do with term limits…some blogger that lives in his mom’s attic is intimidating elected officials these days…
“Nobody tells me how to vote. Nobody across the hall; nobody in here…I have been a Republican my whole life. Now we are going through this wave in Rockland County where we are redefining what a Republican is. A Republican is determined on whether or not you support term limits? When did that become an issue? When did that become something that makes you a Republican?”
Sparaco then went into full controversy mode and belted out this tune: Is it “who hates the Hasidics more? You know that determines how good a Republican you are?! This is crazy! It’s not why I am a Republican. No blogger is going to tell me why I’m a Republican.”
One reason the legislator has been wrankled is Day and his allies attempted to pass a “two hat rule” regarding government jobs, which Sparaco interpreted as a personal attack on himself, as he has a position with the Clarkstown Highway Department.
The intraparty dissension amplified when Sparaco told the Rockland County Times, “Ed Day is using his power as county executive to exact political retribution against his enemies. It is shameful and I’ve never seen anything like it in Rockland politics.”
When County Executive Day was informed of Legislator Sparaco’s on-the-record accusations against him to the Rockland County Times, it clearly crossed a line for him, as did Sparaco’s comments at the Legislature as to whether hatred against the Hasidic community defines certain Republicans
Day told the Rockland County Times that “Legislator Sparaco should be ashamed of himself to disrespect the office of the county executive with such absurd accusations.”
Day then penned a letter to GOP leaders asking they reprimand Sparaco for his comments and stating that he is giving the Republicans a bad name.
Getting in on the “should be ashamed of himself chorus” was Clarkstown Councilman George Hoehmann, an ally of Chairman Axelrod. Hoehmann told the Rockland County Times, “Legislator Sparaco should be ashamed himself for deceiving the public,” referring to when in June Sparaco announced he resigned the GOP Commmittee and would be leaving party politics altogether, only to begin a campaign against Axelrod days later. Hoehmann believes Sparaco knew he was not leaving the scene and was just playing dead to trick Axelrod. He also notes that term limits has been a GOP issue since at least 1994 when it was in the Contract With America.
Prior to Sparaco’s decision to resign the committee, Axelrod told. the Rockland County Times he would be taking Sparaco up on disloyalty charges for his allegedly offering support to Democrat David Fried during the 2013 county executive campaign and other minor charges.
Sparaco told the Rockland County Times, “Robert Axelrod is a Democrat at heart and has been nothing but a disgrace as Clarkstown chairman. He has some nerve accusing me of disloyalty. Accusing me of disloyalty to the Republican Party is like saying General Custer wasn’t patriotic enough.”
Day had stayed out of the Sparaco/Axelrod battle publicly, but it is likely he had been helping Axelrod some behind the scenes. Now that Day and Sparaco are publicly going after each other, his direct involvement is far more likely. Common sense would say that is not a good thing for Sparaco’s campaign.
The only Republican in the party who potentitally can mobilize more voters than Sparaco in a small primary election would logically be Day, a relatively popular, newly elected county executive.
Other corruption accusations added spice to the whole GOP drama. A story was released in the NY Post making light of a sale a company that Day worked for made to a board he sat on (the Solid Waste Authority) on Dec. 26, 2013. Day was listed as salesman. The NY Post article insinuated the $4,000 sale was somehow suspect, and did not bother to mention that Day provided them with an opinion from the SWA’s outside council that the sale did not pose any conflict of interest. The story had the aroma of political hit piece all over it.
Meanwhile on Hull’s blog, accusations against Sparaco of jerry-rigging the petition process for committee members have been detailed. One accusation is Sparaco, who “controls” the Rockland County Independence Party, used Independence Party money to pay petitioners to get Republican signatures. Those petitioners incidentally are grown adults listed as residents of Sparaco’s home. [Update – the Rockland County Times has examined these accusations and rendered the opinion they lack weight. Read more: Election law appears to be on Sparaco’s side]
There also appears to be evidence Sparaco has been hanging out at the family restaurant of accused political corruption felon Jay Savino, former Bronx chairman of the GOP. For his part, Sparaco maintains that Hull is not a credible writer and notes he has an ongoing lawsuit against him for slander.