Party Faithful

It's all in the family for a top Bronx Republican

Tosi's current boss, elections board executive director John Ravitz, a former Republican assemblyman, said the old grand jury probe is a phantom to him as well.

"To be honest with you, all I know about the report is that it was sealed," said Ravitz. "When I asked about it, I was told that Vic was a witness and he wasn't a target of the investigation. So, as far as the report goes, I can't comment."

As an elections commissioner, Tosi will have to take a big pay cut: Commissioners receive a per diem payment of $125, capped at $12,500 per annum. But he's happy to do it, he told the Voice, since it means spending more time with his family and engaged in his church work. He said he feeds the homeless and tries to convince young women not to get abortions by helping them with clothes and shelter. "That has become more and more a part of my life," he said. "Politics? I am totally retired from that."

In fact, as an ordained deacon, he must be. In a ruling issued shortly after Tosi and others were ordained last year, Cardinal Edward Egan ordered that deacons should not seek public office or accept appointments to political positions. Tosi said at the time that he agreed wholeheartedly with the cardinal's ruling. That was why he had stepped down as head of the Bronx GOP, the post he briefly held after Guy Velella's conviction. "My choice was the church," Tosi said.

But it's hard to get more political than a commissionership on the Board of Elections. Under state law, they are the only appointive posts that are directly selected by political parties. Tosi, however, insisted there's no conflict. "I'm nonpartisan there," he said. "You know, like a judge?"

Did that mean he wasn't there to represent his party, which had selected him to do so?

"No, see the commissioners, they function independently," he said. "They cast votes on whatever policies are being established, based on their own objectivity. As far as I know it is OK with the archdiocese."

Egan's spokesman didn't return calls, but it's not the first time that Tosi has managed a delicate stutter step between his faith and his political ambitions. Last year, Tosi and Jay Savino, another ex–Velella aide, who is stepping down as the Bronx GOP rep on the elections commission in order to seat Velella's old senate seat, combined to steer the Republican endorsement to Mike Bloomberg, a strong backer of abortion rights. To do so, they bypassed the conservative Ognibene, a stern abortion foe. How had that vote squared with Tosi's religious beliefs?

"Like I said," he replied, "you've got to weigh a lot of factors."

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