A state Supreme Court justice in White Plains has upheld last fall’s election of Frank Tinari as Suffolk Conservative chairman, dismissing claims of rival Kenneth Auerbach that the party’s convention was fraudulent and filled with irregularities.
“The general statement that the proceedings were fraudulent and that there was a scheme to give voters of the Tinari faction some sort of preference . . . is insufficient,” Justice J. Emmett Murphy ruled, because the “particulars are absent” to show Tinari knew of or participated in fraud.
Murphy also said the suit was “legally insufficient” to prompt court action because there was no violation of election law or party rules.
“The judge was very detailed and ruled in our favor on every issue,” Tinari said. “We’re very excited about the decision and in my opinion this puts the issue to rest.”
Auerbach said he would appeal the ruling.
“The decision is a perversion of justice,” Auerbach said. “I know what the final decision will be and I expect the law will be applied and the voters and committeemen will get to decide the leadership.”
The lawsuit was heard in Westchester County after two Long Island judges recused themselves from the case when it was filed after the Sept. 28 convention.
In their suit, Auerbach and other Tinari opponents said the Conservatives’ executive committee improperly appointed new committee members following the party’s Sept. 13 primary in cases where there was a tie vote.
The plaintiffs challenged the decision to allow a voice vote in the leadership election rather than a roll-call vote based on a weighted gubernatorial vote.
They also said the roll call on waiving the rules had numerous questionable votes — with a female voice voting for a male committee member in some cases.
In a 17-page decision, Murphy said certified election results show Tinari defeated Auerbach, with 425 of the 688 committee members supporting Tinari to 263 for Auerbach.
The results also showed Tinari won the weighted gubernatorial vote, 6,668-4,712. Committee members’ convention votes are weighted based on the number of votes the party received in the last gubernatorial election in their election districts.
The judge said Auerbach’s claims of improper committee appointments “appears to be moot” because Tinari would have won even if the 118 appointed committee members had been excluded. He also said party rules permit the executive committee to fill vacancies and the party can authorize voice votes.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Suffolk Republicans named Conservative Tom Gargiulo as their candidate for the 9th District Assembly seat left vacant when Joseph Saladino become Oyster Bay Town supervisor.
John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman, made the pick after the state Conservative executive committee Monday night nominated Gargiulo, 59, on the minor party line. The Independence Party also backs Garguilo in the May 23 special election.
Democrats nominated CSEA union organizer Ben Lavender.
“It’s an opportunity to build our relationship and send a good message by putting the only Conservative in the State Legislature,” said LaValle, whose ties to the minor party are strained at a time when the GOP needs their ballot line for town and county races this fall.