A dissident faction of the Suffolk Conservative Committee, led by Kenneth Auerbach, has filed a lawsuit to throw out last month’s voice vote election of Frank Tinari as the new party chairman at a closed-door convention in Melville.
Tinari backers, meanwhile, have filed their own lawsuit against the outcome of a Brookhaven Conservative convention held later the same night, claiming the meeting was called without proper notice or a needed quorum. They said the election of Frank Profetta, an Auerbach ally, as town leader, should be disallowed.
Party officials say more than 750 party committee members showed up at the raucous and emotional Sept. 28 convention at the Huntington Hilton, where Tinari was elected to replace Edward Walsh who was removed from office last April after he was convicted on federal corruption charges. Walsh was convicted of illegally taking more than $200,000 in pay and overtime as a Suffolk corrections lieutenant by playing golf, gambling and politicking when he should have been working.
Tinari said the lawsuit was without merit, saying “It’s just a last-ditch effort by Ken Auerbach to stay in the game.” He predicted he will prevail as he had in a prior suit brought by Auerback and backers.
Before the convention, Auerbach sought to stop the Conservative executive committee from filling committee positions, where there were tie votes or no one voted in the Sept. 13 primary to help Tinari’s chances. State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Pitts ruled the party rules permitted filling the committee positions and an appellate panel denied an injunction saying Auerbach could sue later, should he lose.
In the papers filed last Friday, Auerbach said Tinari’s election should be declared “null, and void and of no effect” because the party illegally allowed votes of newly appointed committee members, renewing his claim vacancies should only be filled by newly elected committee members elected in the primary.
Auerbach also said the party improperly held a voice vote, where it was impossible to render “a determination as to who was rightfully…elected” as the new county chairman. He also challenged an earlier hourlong roll-call vote on whether to suspend further roll calls for leader and other posts.
Auerbach said Tinari forces, who controlled the convention, never detailed the final outcome of the resolution to suspend further roll-call votes. He said Tinari supporters got favored treatment — calling his backers up front, giving his supporters several chances to have votes counted while some Tinari backers were allowed to use proxies or vote for others, which is against party rules.
Tinari countered his backers won the procedural vote to forgo lengthy further roll calls with the support of 440 committee members to Auerbach’s 262. In the weighted gubernatorial vote on which the final tally was based, Tinari said their winning margin was 1,960.
Michael Torres, party secretary, who brought the suit against the town Conservative committee said the Brookhaven party has not been officially organized since 2014. He said the town party officials never asked the county committee to send out a convention notice on their behalf. Auerbach charged the county committee was looking to illegally obstruct the town convention.