Rep. King: Santino is running Hempstead 'like a dictatorship'

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Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said Thursday that Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino is "running Town Hall mostly like a dictatorship" – strong criticism after Santino's long public feud with King's daughter, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney.

Earlier this year, in the wake of Hempstead Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino's arrest on federal tax evasion charges, Councilwoman King Sweeney called for the town to create an inspector general position to oversee the town's contracting process. Santino declined and instead put forth an ethics reform package that lacked an inspector general, but did include a clause placing limits on outside income for the town's elected officials.

Santino's ethics reforms narrowly passed after a raucous battle at Town Hall. King Sweeney is an aviation attorney who figures to be directly impacted by the income clause. She calls it a political hit job. Her father weighed in on the controversy. 

"This is where it does get personal, that Santino is somehow alleging or suggesting that my daughter is profiting from business contracts. It's a total lie, he knows it is," Rep. King told News 12

The congressman is the first to admit that public spats between Republicans in the Town of Hempstead are extremely rare. Some are wondering if the in-fighting will have any impact on upcoming elections. 

"The type of in-fighting makes for good theater for people like us, meaning political consultants and the press, but the general population doesn't...put too much stock in it come Election Day," says political consultant Michael Dawidziak. 

Rep. King made a lengthy Facebook post Thursday morning that aired his frustrations with Santino. Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman, another Republican, has repeatedly done the same. Blakeman recently likened Santino to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Santino is up for re-election in November. His spokesperson declined to comment on this story.

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