Republicans fight over ethics reform in Hempstead

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Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino and Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, both Republicans, engaged in a public verbal spat Tuesday during a Town Board meeting over proposed ethics reforms she believes are targeting her.

Members of the board and audience members spoke over each other during the ordeal.   

News 12 Long Island reported last month that Santino's plan would cap outside income for Town Board members to $125,000, saying the package was designed to guard the public against corruption and conflicts of interest. 

King Sweeney is an aviation attorney who earns in excess of that amount. She called the supervisor's plan "a sideshow" and an attempt to silence independent voices.

Santino has refused to include the creation of an inspector general into his proposal, which is what King Sweeney has been pushing for and what she tried to propose during the meeting.  

"It's the ultimate insurance policy. The Town Board gives to an independent third party the power to analyze if there are any conflicts," she told News 12

However, Town Attorney Joe Ra said Sweeney's legislation was written incorrectly and required approval from other agencies. King Sweeney claims it's all an attempt to stonewall her, and it's what prompted the verbal dispute. 

The councilwoman says she will have her legislation rewritten and try to reintroduce it at the next meeting. In the meantime, the Board is scheduled to discuss the supervisor's ethics reform bill at the next meeting next month.

News 12 was told that Santino was not available to comment on the matter.

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