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Aug 18, 2009 6:57 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Court rules Gardiner cannot wage East Hampton primary

Aug 18, 2009 6:57 PM

Bill Gardiner’s petition to wage a primary against the Republican candidates for East Hampton Town Board has been thrown out after two weeks of legal pressure by two active Republicans.

Town GOP treasurer Don Cirillo and his wife Carole Campolo won their case against Mr. Gardiner in New York State Supreme Court on Friday, August 14. The couple had challenged Mr. Gardiner’s signature-gathering process, claiming that one man who signed petitions as a witness was not present when petitions were signed, and that Mr. Gardiner had submitted one xeroxed page and another doctored page of signatures during his attempt to collect the 216 signatures necessary to get his name on a September 15 primary ballot.

Mr. Gardiner, a former chairman of the Town Republican Committee, had not screened with the committee before he began his primary bid. The GOP’s designated candidates for Town Board, Dominick Stanzione and Theresa Quigley, were also listed as petitioners in the case because they are the candidates who would be aggrieved by a primary.

Mr. Cirillo said last week that the financial cost to the party to hold a primary, as well as what he termed a lack of regard for ethics, were major factors in his decision to challenge Mr. Gardiner’s petition.

Though Mr. Gardiner had a total of 387 signatures on his petition, the court challenge did not ask the court to invalidate individual signatures, but to rule on whether the signatures were gathered correctly.

The court proceedings, which began August 6 after Mr. Gardiner’s petitions were initially upheld by the Suffolk County Board of Elections on July 28, included testimony from Mr. Gardiner and two people who carried his petitions: David Rubenstein, and Jennifer Martin, who assisted Mr. Rubenstein even though she is not a registered Republican.

Mr. Cirillo and Ms. Campolo submitted affidavits from several people who signed the petitions stating that their signatures were not witnessed by Mr. Rubenstein, when Mr Rubenstein had sworn in the documents that they were signed in his presence, but instead were gathered by Ms. Martin.

“Martin is neither a notary public nor an enrolled Republican voter and, hence, she is not qualified to witness the petition,” read Justice Gary Weber’s decision. Judge Weber added that Mr. Rubenstein admitted that in some cases he did not see the signatures that were witnessed by Ms. Martin.

“In fact, Rubenstein went so far as to testify that candidate Gardiner had told him that this procedure would be proper even if he, Rubenstein, had to use binoculars to observe the interaction between Martin and the petition signers,” read the decision.

Mr. Gardiner made clear in his testimony and in comments to reporters last week that he was aware of Mr. Rubenstein and Ms. Martin’s signature-gathering process, and that he approved of it. The decision cited extensive case law regarding the manner in which signatures must be collected.

“The court finds that, although candidate Gardiner did not participate in or even direct the activities of Rubenstein and Martin, he had knowledge of their signature gathering process, as they continued, which were fraudulent and in violation of Election Law ... and that he encouraged them to continue in that manner,” read the petition.

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Ms. Young - an appropriate name for a new reporter - please just do a LITTLE more research in your artlicles, and then maybe you can becaome a "real" reporter - PLEASE! There is an attorney who handled this case. His name is Vincent Messina. His name was on the decision. He has a telephone number, and a real law practice. He is a thourough, professional, calm person who knows how petitions should be signed as, presumably, does Bill Gardiner. There was no "legal pressure" by anyone. Either ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Aug 18, 09 12:07 AM
Dear Board Watcher,
I don't know who you are or why you would make any kind of assumption about how long I have been in this business, though I do find your repeated obsessive commentary on my work to be thoroughly disturbing (I've spent ten years at this thankless trade, in case you care). I stand by this article.
Thanks for your commentary,
By Beth Young (7), Sag Harbor on Aug 18, 09 6:57 AM
sigh -- If you checked a little further, you'd learn Cirillo and Campolo were actually struck as petitioners in the case. The candidates won their case.
By sisterb (1), EH on Aug 18, 09 1:31 PM
Well, after reading the previous comment I am in doubt as to whether Gardiner will, or will not, be in a primary.

In any case, the legal challenge misses the point to be verified, that is, did Gardiner gather enough signatures for a primary challenge, legally or illegally? Did the minimum required number of East Hampton residents, honest and true, sign the petition?

The amount of time and money spent to determine legality could have been spent going to each signatories home address ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 18, 09 3:35 PM
Ms. Young's article is interesting to me since she saw all of the documents in question yet her article makes it sound as if the Gardiner case was merely one of a process technicality gone awry. Indeed, as was suspected and as the judge confirmed the issue was not just process it was election fraud. Historically, getting on the ballot in NYS has been difficult by design. However, many of the "gotcha" processes have been removed leaving a more coherent and necessary system that tries to preserve ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Aug 19, 09 8:35 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 19, 09 6:21 PM
[Previous post, "testing - - testing", made to ascertain that this site is working since that last time I pressed, "Submit", the post simply vanished.]
Positing the existence of a legal procedure as ethical criterion for pursuing a legal remedy is silly. Yet Ms. Compolo actually states this as just cause for her legal challenge to Mr. Gardiner's petitions.

At ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 19, 09 7:48 PM
Mr. Highhatsize: At least I have the courage of my convictions not to have to hide behind an alias and use my real name. In addition to being a cowardly act, it allows you to make the most uneducated comments with little or no consequence, except perhaps, to your own psyche. But, I digress. What ill informed people like you do not understand is that the people that signed those petitions, as good citizens and in good faith, were used to perpetrate a fraud against all. That sir, is a crime. ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Aug 20, 09 8:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
[Anonymity enables me to avoid personal contact with people who indulge in ad hominem attacks.]

This is farcical. Ms. Campolo couches her explanation of her legal maneuvering in universal ethical terms but the reality is that this parochial event could have gone forward without legal intervention and with no harm done to anyone’s enfranchisement, nor to the rule of law.

The indisputable fact is that, due to Ms. Campolo’s resort to law, the voters of East Hampton have one less ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 21, 09 6:46 PM
My guess is that highhatsize does not vote here -- or he is a Democrat, happy that Bill Gardiner could attempt to divide and waste the Republican Party's time and "our" (meaning all of Suffolk County citizens') money because, after all, all of us end up paying for these "primaries". If candidates are serious and competent - you bet there will be a primary! HHS's comments say, in essence, "Proces be Damned" "Let anyone and everyone who wants to be involved have a place on a ballot - regardless ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Aug 22, 09 7:12 PM
Dear Ms. Campolo and Ms(?). Board Watcher,

We are fortunate to have in our midst selfless citizens like yourselves who raise our consciousnesses to the evil inherent in behavior that we would otherwise view as simply partisan.

By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 24, 09 10:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 24, 09 10:54 PM