The vice chairman of the Queens Republican Party has formally resigned, forfeiting his post one day after he was implicated in a bribery scandal. PIX11 News has learned that Vince Tabone submitted his letter of resignation this morning to Queens GOP Chair Phil Ragussa.
“He did the right thing,” Ragussa told us. Insiders said Tabone remains confident that he can “beat” these allegations, which he called “unfair.”
As Tabone steps aside, pressure is mounting for Democratic Senator Malcolm Smith to relinquish his seat in Albany, along with his powerful leadership position.
“The heat is being turned up full force,” according to an Albany source. Smith, Tabone, Bronx County Chairman Joseph Savino, City Councilman Dan Halloran and two others were arrested by the FBI Tuesday after being charged with a bribery plot to secure Smith a spot in the Republican primary for mayor in September.
State Republican leaders, who have been hoping to block a Democrat from gaining control of City Hall for the first time since 1989, are fearful GOP voters will be turned off by the scandal, and not vote in the primary.
“Our mission right now is to clean up the party,” a top GOP source said.
According to our sources, Smith met with GOP State Chairman Ed Cox last summer. Cox is said to have asked him outright it he would be a Republican. He said no. He simply wanted a spot on the Republican line and intended to hold onto his Democratic affiliation so he could run for re-election to the state Senate next year if he failed to win the mayoral election.
“He made it clear he didn’t want to burn his bridges,” the source said.
Though they’re alleged to have taken bribes to support Smith’s candidacy, insiders said both Savino and Tabone “had no respect for Smith” and felt he had no chance of winning the mayoralty.
Meantime, another source said former Congressman Bob Turner’s name is being floated as a possible head of the Queens Republican Party. Turner, a successful businessman, who filled the unexpired seat of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner, “is the only one to run the party in Queens,” the insider insisted.