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Suffolk Conservatives battle dissidents

Suffolk Conservative Party officials have filed declinations from 60 party members, whose names have been filed on petitions to become party committee members by a dissident group seeking to oust acting Conservative chairman Frank Tinari, when he seeks a full two-year term as leader in September.

Tinari, who had been Suffolk Conservative Committee executive vice chairman, became acting county leader when former leader Edward Walsh was convicted of federal corruption charges of politicking, playing golf and gambling when he was supposed to be working as a county correction lieutenant. Tinari will seek his own two year-term as a party chairman in September.

Meanwhile, the anti-Tinari faction headed by Kenneth Auerbach filed petitions by mail for candidates for committee positions in 15 more election districts. Election officials earlier said that Auerbach forces had filed petitions for committee candidates in 574 election districts.

Tinari said his backers went to homes of people for whom Auerbach filed petitions for people who were not known as party activists and found that about 75 percent were unaware their names had been filed to be committee members.

Tinari said that in other cases, Auerbach filed petitions for Conservatives who had died several years ago, upsetting their families. “It seems that it was all done for illusion,” said Tinari.

Tinari said he and the Board of Elections have gotten calls from unhappy Conservatives who have received notices in the mail that their names were put up to run as party committee members without their knowledge. Those notices from the elections board arrived Monday, the deadline to respond if they did not want to run.

Auerbach countered that Tinari supporters went to the homes of petition signers, many of them elderly, trying to scare then into believing they would have to attend many meetings and travel great distances as committee members.

“They were lying to people,” Auerbach said. “What they don’t get is that those people are waiting to go ahead and throw them out.”

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