Ortenzio’s Chair

A blog on Urban Elephants reports that James Ortenzio is resigning from his post as chairman of the New York Republican County Committee, and that he may also be stepping down from his post as state party finance chairman.

I haven’t been able to reach Ortenzio on his cell phone or at his office to confirm. When I asked state party spokesman Tony Santino if Ortenzio was still Manhattan chair, he said, “I’ve heard nothing to the contrary.”

If it’s true, though, here’s why it might make sense: Ortenzio is a Pataki ally who backed Bill Weld for governor and KT McFarland for Senate. Both lost to more conservative candidates, and the new state party chairman, Joseph Mondello, was not particularly close with Pataki.

Also, Ortenzio is reportedly the subject of an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney for allegedly filing misleading financial statements with the state.

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Ortenzio, who confirmed that he resigned as state finance chair and Manhattan county chair at the beginning of the year. Local Republicans could vote for a new county chair as early as next Tuesday, he said.

“There are no ’07 elections, ’08 is a presidential election, ’09 is a city election. So it’s perfect timing,” Ortenzio said when reached by cell phone.

He also said he will help raise money for next month’s Lincoln Day Dinner, explaining, “I pass it, I don’t flip it in the air for someone to catch. This baton will be easy to grasp.”

He said the reported investigation had nothing to do with the timing of his decision.

– Azi Paybarah