Recently, a challenge was filed to petitions filed for a Republican Committeeman position in the Town of Rochester. Imre Beke, Jr. filed the challenge as the person was seeking to run a primary against his father.
As a favor to the party and to avoid a costly court case, Imre Jr. decided to withdraw the objection. For doing the right thing, one would expect kudos, right? Well, not from the disgraced former Republican County Chairwoman. She actually had the audacity to claim that Imre withdrew his challenge because of her posts on her blog / web page. She also claims there was no legal merit to the challenge which proves that she has no business in law or politics for the reasons set forth below.
Imre is a personal friend of mine, As such, I have discussed the matter with him extensively. Had the matter gone to court, I would have represented Imre and likely have won the case given the current case law. That being said, I commend Imre for his decision. It took a great deal for man who loves his father as much as Imre to withdraw the challenge especially in light of the vicious and nasty attacks launched against him as part of the primary process.
I feel compelled, however, to discuss the legal merit of the claim since Robin has posted an irrelevant section of law claiming that the challenge had no merit. The challenge did have legal merit in light of a decision from the New York Supreme Court less than one year ago.
The objection was filed based upon fraud. The petition improperly used the same Committee on Vacancies used by the County Committee which included the names Roger Rascoe, David O’Halloran, and Gloria Van Vliet, none of whom gave their permission to have their names used on the petitions. Roger Rascoe is the Republican County Chairman. David O’Halloran is the Town of Rochester Republican Chairman. Gloria Van Vliet is the Town of Esopus Republican Chairman. All three are members of the Executive Board of the Ulster County Republican Committee.
To quote the specific challenge originally filed with the Board of Elections, the petition "intentionally used the same Committee to Fill Vacancies to falsely and maliciously deceive the voters into believing that 3 members of the County Republican Committee, including the County Chairman, actually supported Manuela Mihailescu a/k/a Manuela Michailescu for the position of County Committeeman in that particular district instead of both Imre Beke, Sr. And David O’Halloran."
Those who opposed the challenge (such as Robin) cited Election Law Section 6-134 (8) which states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the failure to list
a committee to fill vacancies or the failure to list at least three
eligible voters as a committee to fill vacancies shall not invalidate
the petition unless a vacancy occurs which, under law, may be filled
only by such a committee.
However, the challenge was not that the petition should be invalidated because of the failure to have a proper committee to fill vacancies. The objection was fraud which is always a valid objection to petitions, even if the fraud was concerning the committee to fill vacancies.
There is case law supporting the challenge.
On August 3, 2011, the New York Supreme Court threw out petitions submitted ironically enough by the same individuals upon the grounds that the individuals who signed the petition were fraudulently induced into the signing the petition.
The petitions in that case sought an Opportunity to Ballot for the Conservative line and included three names for the Committee to Receive Notices. These names were the same three people used on the Ulster County Conservative Party’s official nominating petitions for the Committee to Fill Vacancies. They included the Ulster County Conservative Party Chairman, Edward Gaddy.
Again quoting the specifics filed by Imre, "Nevertheless, it is important to note that the petitions in Fornino were not disallowed because of the lack of a proper Committee to Receive Notices. Rather, the ground for disallowance was fraud. The Fornino case stands for the clear legal proposition that a person may not challenge candidates endorsed by a county committee through the petition process by using a Committee to Fill Vacancies or a Committee to Receive Notices made up of the same three people used by the County Committee. To do so is fraudulent inducement because the voters are fraudulently misguided into believing that the candidate on the petition is being supported by the County Committee."
Thus, Imre had a valid challenge based upon binding case law. Though the Board of Elections would likely have declined it since they do not like to get involved in issues of fraud, there is a strong chance the Court would have followed the Fornino case.
As a gesture of good will toward the party, Imre Jr. withdrew the objections and Imre Sr. filed a declination. This saves the Town of Rochester a great deal of money and allows the party to focus on the general election in November. It was a gracious move on the part of Imre and his father.
Unfortunately, in the world of Ulster County politics, a good deed never goes unpunished or without criticism. I want to give Imre a symbolic pat on the back for willingly withdrawing a perfectly valid challenge. He and his father not only saved the Town of Rochester a great deal of money, but they both showed grace and class despite vicious and nasty personal attacks being launched against them by petty and despicable people.