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Frank Tinari election as Suffolk Conservative chief thrown out

A state Supreme Court justice has thrown out

A state Supreme Court justice has thrown out the re-election of Frank Tinari as Suffolk Conservative chairman and ordered a new convention with a court-appointed monitor. Credit: Ed Betz

A state Supreme Court justice has thrown out the re-election of Frank Tinari as Suffolk Conservative chairman and ordered a new party convention with a court-appointed monitor.

In a 24-page decision Friday, Justice David Reilly said, “the court concludes that the meeting was imperfectly organized and that the irregularities ... make it impossible to determine” whether Tinari and other party officials were properly elected.

The meeting also “devolved in to a shouting match between factions with no rule of order firmly established,” Reilly said.

Reilly ordered all sides to appear at a March 15 conference to determine a procedure for holding a new convention and choosing a monitor acceptable to the court and all sides. The monitor will make sure only properly elected committee members can participate in the new convention.

“I think it's great day in Suffolk County for justice and for the democratic process,” said Kenneth Auerbach, leader of the party’s dissident faction who filed the lawsuit. Auerbach lost a leadership bid two years ago.

Tinari said he had instructed the party’s attorney, Vincent Messina, to file an expedited appeal.

Messina said he “respectfully disagreed with Justice Reilly’s decision. And [we] are confident we will prevail on appeal.”

The court order comes after a raucous Sept. 26 convention attended by 700 to 800 people.

Tinari was re-elected to a second term on a voice vote after Auerbach failed to nominate a slate of his own, despite four attempts to get him to put forward his own candidates.

However, Auerbach said he objected that there were 132 people in the room who were not elected in the September primary, but were allowed to participate in the voice vote. Another 36 people who were signed in but not committee members also were “illegally” in attendance, Auerbach said.

In court papers, the party claimed Auerbach had no standing because he never put his name forward as a candidate.

However, Reilly ruled that, "as leader of the opposition … Mr. Auerbach was a candidate and aggrieved by the unjust process employed … to avoid a roll call vote ... "

Reilly also called the “participation of invited, nonelected members of the Conservative Party in the voting … a violation of the Election law … and a usurpation of the rights of the properly elected committee people at the meeting.”

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