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May 7, 2019 10:52 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Supreme Court Rules Out Democratic Primary For Southampton Town Board Election In June

Eileen Duffy's petition to run for Southampton Town Board as a Democratic Party candidate was invalidated by the Supreme Court last week. VALERIE GORDON
May 9, 2019 7:33 AM

Eileen Duffy’s efforts to force a Democratic Party primary election in June for a chance to earn a seat on the Southampton Town Board appear to have been quashed by a State Supreme Court justice.

In a written decision dated May 3, Justice David T. Reilly found that Ms. Duffy committed election fraud, having knowingly had her name appear on two separate designating petitions simultaneously—the first for Town Trustee and the second for a seat on the Town Board.

Ms. Duffy filed an appeal on Monday following the decision, according to Larry Silverman, an attorney representing George Lynch. Mr. Lynch, a member of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, originally brought the case in an effort to block Ms. Duffy’s candidacy.

Ms. Duffy did not return phone calls seeking comment this week.

Mr. Lynch said on Tuesday that his intention was not to block Ms. Duffy from running for a seat on the board, but rather to “protect the cause of democracy.”

Ms. Duffy originally screened with the Democratic Party to run for a seat on the Town Board—John Bouvier, a Democrat, is seeking reelection to the board, while board member Christine Scalera, a Republican, is term-limited out.

However, the party’s Executive Committee voted unanimously against Ms. Duffy’s nomination, offering her a chance to run for Town Trustee instead, which she accepted in February. The committee then nominated newcomer Craig Catalanotto to run for Town Board along with Mr. Bouvier.

That didn’t stop Ms. Duffy from circulating a petition for the Town Board seat, omitting Mr. Catalanotto’s name and replacing it with hers, according to court documents.

If approved, the petition—which also included Jay Schneiderman for town supervisor; John Bouvier for Town Board; Ann Welker, Fred Havemeyer, David Mayer, Andrew Brosnan and Eric Shultz for the Board of Trustees; and Brette Haefeli for town justice—would have forced a primary election in June.

The court found that Ms. Duffy was aware that a second petition was being circulated simultaneously with her name included in the race for Town Trustee and “knowingly allowed the enrolled voters to be misled as to which of the offices she was truly seeking.”

Ms. Duffy formally declined the Trustee position in April, which, according to court documents, met the time requirements of the state’s election law. The decision read, however, “that filing does nothing to extinguish the election fraud Duffy committed, intentionally or unintentionally, upon the enrolled voters during the circulation of the designating petitions.”

Ms. Duffy’s attorney, Daniel Pagano, clarified on Tuesday that his client did not circulate two petitions, but rather went door to door with her Town Board petition while the Town Trustee petition was being circulated by others. “She didn’t get a single signature for trustee,” he said.

Additionally, Justice Reilly explained in his written decision that Ms. Duffy did not obtain permission from several candidates listed on her Town Board petition, including Mr. Bouvier and Mr. Brosnan, who provided testimony on behalf of Mr. Lynch.

“She was misleading the voters,” Southampton Town Democratic Committee Chairman Gordon Herr said of Ms. Duffy on Monday.

According to the court’s decision, Ms. Duffy had explained during the hearing process that she supported the candidates listed on her petitions and “wanted to gather signatures for them while she was collecting signatures for herself.” She also admitted that she never sought permission to do so.

Mr. Pagano said that “there was nothing in her conduct that was intentionally fraudulent.”

Mr. Herr said that if the judge’s decision holds, it would block Ms. Duffy from throwing her hat in the ring for a seat on the Town Board.

When reached on Tuesday, Mr. Silverman said he was surprised that Ms. Duffy had filed an appeal. “It’s surprising given the impropriety of placing people on a petition without their consent while running for two offices at the same time,” he said.

However, Mr. Pagano does not share that sentiment.

“They’re running out there screaming ‘fraud’—they’re going to seem pretty silly.”

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Now here's a person who should never be considered for elected office.

Fortunately, the State Supreme Court shed light on her election fraud activities.

Duffy has shown she is a divider, not a unifier.

She lacks integrity and honesty.
By HamptonClassic (132), Southampton on May 7, 19 1:06 PM
Why is Turkey Bridge always the complainant? Asking for a friend.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on May 7, 19 9:56 PM
I always wonder about these political rulings. My wonder is that a lot of Judges are appointed,and they are usually appointed by a party Dem Rep Indy. So I wonder if political affiliation should be disclosed and and I wonder about being impartial. Im not saying that this ruling isn't impartial, but it does make me wonder....
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on May 8, 19 6:22 AM
2 members liked this comment
From Ballotpedia.org........New York Supreme Court justices are elected to 14-year terms. In practice, most of the power of selecting judges belongs to local political party organizations who cross-endorse each others' candidates. Regardless of the term for which they are elected, justices retire at the end of the year in which they reach the age of seventy years, though subject to annual review justices may serve till the age of 76, a replacement being chosen to a fresh 14-year term that November ...more
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on May 8, 19 6:56 AM
Lawyer Pagano, "Silly"? I guess you think the Judicial system is also "Silly"?
Judge Reilly didn't think it was "Silly". BTW, is "Silly" a legal term?

Duffy lost because she thought she could put her fraud over on the voters.

It is interesting to note that Duffy, with her group of followers who carried petitions for her, could NOT even collect the minimum amount of signers. needed on the Working Families Party line.
By SpeedRacer (160), Southampton on May 9, 19 11:47 AM