Family friend may be the other woman in Pirro scandal

Friday, September 29, 2006

Jeanine Pirro's admission that she wanted to bug her husband to catch him in an affair has given the race for New York attorney general a new edge and it may earn Pirro new sympathy.

She's refusing to give-in, even as attention shifts to another couple now linked to the scandal.

Eyewitness News reporter Lisa Colagrossi is live in Westchester with the latest.

In a photo from several years ago, Lisa Santangelo, a family friend, is seen posing with Jeanine Pirro.

Her husband, Lawyer Michael Santangelo, represented Albert Pirro when the federal authorities went after him for tax evasion.

In published reports Santangelo confirmed he and his wife had been questioned in their home in Rye by federal investigators.

His law partner issued a statement for the family saying:

"We emphatically deny that there was any affair."

Santangelo told reporters:

"I stand by my wife."

But: "Due to the fact that there is an ongoing federal investigation, neither my wife or myself can comment. However, we have been friends with the Pirros for many years."

Meanwhile, Jeanine Pirro is fired up about staying in the race for New York attorney general.

"I'm not going to roll over, I'm not going away. I am a fighter," Pirro added.

So far, Albert Pirro is keeping mum.

As for Democratic opponent Andrew Cuomo, his spokesperson is telling Pirro "don't blame us for your troubles" the investigation is being run by Republicans.

Some good news for Jeanine Pirro, Governor Pataki will hold a fundraiser next week for her. That replaces the one canceled by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Federal investigators have also contacted others in this investigation.

A Giuliani spokesperson confirms that three of Giuliani's employees have been contacted by the FBI. The spokesperson says the employees apparently did some moonlighting, following Albert Pirro in a failed attempt to catch him cheating.

Survey USA Poll

In a Survey USA Poll, we asked: Do you think Pirro's choice to stay married to her husband helps her politically? Hurts her politically?

  • 55 percent -- "It hurts"
  • 28 percent -- "No effect"
  • 14 percent -- "It helps"
  • 3 percent -- "Not sure"

    We also asked: "If you were in a similar situation with a spouse or partner, do you think you would stay in the relationship? Or leave the relationship?

  • 60 percent -- Leave
  • 25 percent -- Stay
  • 15 percent -- Not sure

    The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent.

    Political Fallout

    Pirro, returning to the campaign trail, vows to stay the course despite the latest distraction in her run for attorney general.

    Pirro's Republican Party chairman says: "This is a political leak five weeks before an election. New Yorkers will see right through this."

    In one of her latest political ads, she mentions Spitzer, who would not discuss her troubles. And with the elections looming large, Governor George Pataki called for a quick investigation.

    But Doug Muzzio, professor of public affairs at Baruch College, in his outspoken opinion believes Pirro's husband Al may have the most impact on the campaign.

    (Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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