Veteran Pol Tony Seminerio and Bribe-Taking in Albany

Bribes and blatant nepotism in the senate. What else is new?

These days, being an elected state official means never having to answer tough questions, unless there's an election going on. And no one dares run against Golden any more. The Democratic Party has given up challenging him, as have those terriers at the Working Families Party who insist the Republican senator is invulnerable.

Owen Johnson Sr., who has represented a chunk of the south shore of Long Island from West Babylon to Sayville since 1972, also gets a free electoral ride from Democratic officials. In exchange for a non-aggression treaty in which the local GOP doesn't challenge Democratic incumbents, Suffolk County's Democratic Party simply stopped running against Johnson. The only one insisting that Johnson deserves a race has been a stubborn 75-year-old Korean War vet named Jim McDonald, who ran against Johnson in his first race 36 years ago. McDonald ran again two years ago, when he managed to get 40 percent of the vote—without his own party's support. "I kept seeing where the Democrats wouldn't challenge him. They disenfranchised 300,000 people in this district," says McDonald.

Johnson's clout stems from both his chairmanship of the finance committee—one of the most powerful posts in the senate—and his seniority. The result is that he gets to bring home the bacon—a lot of it. This year, Johnson was the senate's fourth-largest pork purveyor, winning $3.2 million in state funds for his favorite local causes. Among them was $65,000 to help the Constantino Brumidi lodge of the Loyal Sons of Italy repave its parking lot. A spokesman for Johnson said the senator declined to answer any questions, including how his son came to be hired.

Senior's moment: State Senator Owen Johnson
Howard Schnapp/Newsday

Senior's moment: State Senator Owen Johnson

As for Tony Seminerio, he pled not guilty, surrendered his passport, and posted a $500,000 bond in the form of his Ozone Park home. He has to be back in court next month.

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