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Nicholas LaLota of Suffolk elections board avoids sanctions

Nicholas LaLota shown on Feb. 7, 2014.

Nicholas LaLota shown on Feb. 7, 2014. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Nicholas LaLota, Suffolk’s Republican elections commissioner, avoided sanction last week in state Supreme Court, but his attorney agreed LaLota will not in the future engage in the same legal maneuvers he used in trying to thwart the Conservative nomination of newly elected Southampton town board member Julie Lofstad.

After nearly 90 minutes of negotiation in chambers, LaLota’s attorney Peter Bee read a statement which maintained that the GOP commissioner’s action ”was brought in good faith” but also agreed to change his legal ways.

He agreed that an Article 78 lawsuit “is not a proper vehicle” to challenge a certificates of nomination, authorization, acceptance or declination. He also acknowledged that he board is a ministerial body “limited to reviewing the face of documents for their validity” and that both commissioners would have to agree to invalidate a nomination. “Moreover,” Bee added, “The commissioner agrees to be guided by the holdings of the decision in the future.”

Lawrence Silverman, attorney for Democratic commissioner Anita Katz, said the ruling will make future operations of the board more efficient and avoid needless and wasteful controversy.

Silverman had made a motion for sanctions after LaLota went to court in a last-minute suit to block Lofstad on the conservative line after earlier agreeing the nomination was valid even though he opposed it. Then he failed to show up in court to defend his position even though Justice John Leo ordered a special Saturday court hearing in the case.

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