Montano lawsuit against primary rival dismissed

Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano (D-Brentwood) went to court Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano (D-Brentwood) went to court trying to stop his primary foe Monica Martinez from claiming she is the Islip Democratic committee's nominee or that she is using party money because he is the party's designated candidate.(May 18, 2011) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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A state Supreme Court judge Thursday dismissed on procedural grounds a lawsuit brought by Suffolk Legis. Rick Montano (D-Brentwood) to stop his Sept. 10 primary opponent Monica Martinez from saying she is backed by the Islip Democratic Party and from taking money from the party organization.

Justice James F. Quinn, ruling in Central Islip, said Montano lacked standing to bring the action because he should have first brought his complaint to the state board of elections.

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"While clearly time is of the essence," Quinn said in a three-page decision, "the particular election law statutes implicated by these alleged violations . . . provide that the petitioner must first submit a complaint to the state board of elections and exhaust administrative remedies" before going to court.

Quinn also said he declined "to interfere with the internal workings of a political party" as to whether Martinez was improperly endorsed.

Montano's suit alleged that Martinez was improperly claiming to be the candidate of the Islip Democratic Party, when Montano was designated at a county convention in May as the Democratic candidate. He maintained that the town committee had improperly funneled campaign funds to Martinez's campaign from both the Babylon Democratic Committee and Bellone 2015, the campaign fund of the County Executive Steve Bellone.

Tom Garry, Martinez's attorney, said, "Obviously we're pleased with the decision. The court recognizes that the allegations against Monica Martinez and the Islip Democratic Committee are without merit."

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Montano maintained, "The court dismissed the petition on purely procedural issues and never got to the merits."

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