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Aug 24, 2018 6:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Judge Throws Out East Hampton Independence Party Nominations After Allegations Of Forgery

Elaine Jones
Aug 28, 2018 3:39 PM

The East Hampton Independence Party line will be blank for this November’s election.

A State Supreme Court judge last week invalidated 12 more signatures on petitions nominating David Gruber to be the party’s candidate, saying she saw substantial differences between the signatures on the petitions and those on the official records on file at the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

But the court ruling stopped short of finding any Independence Party officials culpable of fraud, even though the case was predicated on numerous signatures appearing not to be those of the purported signatories, as attested by the witness to the petition.

In a Central Islip courtroom on Friday morning, State Supreme Court Justice Carol Mackenzie compared signatures on petitions collected by Pat Mansir, a former town councilwoman and vice chair of the town’s Independence Party, with those on so-called “buff cards” that voters sign when they register to vote, or in some instances on copies of polling place sign-in sheets from recent elections.

“The signature is almost printed and doesn’t begin to match the looping style and very distinctive ‘T’ and ‘J’ on the buff card,” Judge Mackenzie said while scrutinizing two juxtaposed versions of an Independence Party member’s name.

“The ‘R’ and the ‘W’ are significantly different,” she said while looking intensely at another. “The signature is so markedly different that I am determining that it could not be the same signer.”

In all, Judge Mackenzie invalidated 12 signatures. When combined with the 11 that officials at the Board of Elections had found invalid earlier this month, it left the petition nominating Mr. Gruber with only 50 signatures—four fewer than necessary for the nomination.

The East Hampton Town Republican Party, via a lawsuit filed on behalf of its candidate, Manny Vilar, and Independence Party member Gerard Larsen, had accused leaders of the Independence Party of forging signatures of some party members on the petitions submitted for Mr. Gruber, the party committee’s chosen candidate.

East Hampton Republican Party Chairman Amos Goodman said that he and his attorney, Guy Parisi, had another six or seven signatures that they had found suspect and wanted the judge to look at, but he would not press the matter, since the petitions had been rendered invalid.

Mr. Goodman, who had hired a private investigator to get affidavits from Independence Party voters who said they did not sign the petitions, also said he would not press the issue of determining legally whether Ms. Mansir had committed fraud.

“I’m not looking to cause anyone any trouble,” he said during a break in the proceedings. “All I ever wanted was getting the line vacated. I don’t have any desire to get Ms. Mansir in trouble. There’s a lot of accusations flying around.”

Justice MacKenzie said at one point during the review of signatures on Friday that her determination that a signature on Ms. Mansir’s petitions did not match the one in the official record should be taken as “an inference of fraud.” However, she did not call for further legal review of whether it was an instance of fraud, which could carry a criminal penalty.

At another point, Justice MacKenzie irritatedly called the effort to examine the signatures on several Independence petitions a “three-ring circus” and demanded several times that Ms. Mansir be summoned to the courtroom to answer for the discrepancies on her petition sheets—at various times ordering her attorney to call her, and for the court bailiff to search the hallways outside the courtroom to see if Ms. Mansir was present.

Despite having been subpoenaed to appear, Ms. Mansir never came to the Central Islip courthouse.

Independence Party Chairwoman Elaine Jones was in the courtroom, however, and lamented that Mr. Goodman had succeeded in nullifying the party line.

She also nodded to her own accusations against Mr. Goodman, and the fact that they cannot be examined in court, as Ms. Mansir’s were, because she did not file a timely challenge with the Board of Elections, or in court. She has suggested that she may show Mr. Goodman’s petitions to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office—since voter petitions are legal documents and a witness’s signature is tantamount to attesting an affidavit—but has not yet done so.

An independent inquiry by The Press revealed now more than two dozen Republican voters whose names are on petitions signed by Mr. Goodman but who say they never signed the petition and the signatures are not theirs.

“He won this round—that’s okay, so be it,” Ms. Jones said. “I will win the next round.”

Ms. Mansir could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Gruber, in response to the news of the court findings, said he was disappointed to lose the party line but distanced himself from the suspect signatures. “I had no involvement in the signature gathering by the Independence Party,” he said in a statement sent out on Friday night. “My only role was to file the legally required acceptance of the nomination after its nominating petition was filed.”

He also nodded to the suspect signatures on Mr. Goodman’s petitions, and Mr. Goodman chalking the discrepancies up to “sloppiness” on his part. He said Ms. Mansir should be afforded the same “benefit of the doubt that he gives himself.”

Mr. Gruber remains a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination in next month’s primary against Councilman David Lys. The winner of that primary will face Mr. Vilar, who is on the Republican line. Mr. Lys also carries the possibility of being on the ballot regardless of the primary results because he filed to create a new party line, called the East Hampton Unity Party, this week—but his petitions have not yet been certified.

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What Ms. Jones fails to realize, repeatedly and with utter disregard for what should be a democratic process, is that the "I" line is not "hers" to win or lose. Had she just let all three candidates run instead of playing games for her own personal reasons, "I" voters would have chosen who they wanted to be their elected officials - by vote! It is unequivocally time for Ms. Jones and Pat Mansir to step down. Sad. Very sad that this is her game to "win or lose".
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Aug 24, 18 6:20 PM
As I have said before on this subject, it is time for the State Chair to step in. Jones has been doing this for years. The one that gets hurt by his association with her is David Gruber. The local Dem Party, guilty of their own shennanigans, will have a field day with this.
By pluff (60), East Hampton on Aug 24, 18 7:41 PM
Pluff, the people who get hurt by their association with her are any "I" voters who don't understand that the State Chair anointed Ms. Jones with no other reason, I would surmise, than the fact that she wanted the position. And then he washes his hands of it and she anoints as many or as few people to be on her "committee" as she she wants. Who even knows who is on "her" committee? There are no rules. There is no "process" as with D and R party delegate and candidate elections. There are over ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Aug 25, 18 10:20 AM
I would venture to say that the majority of those 1000 are independents that thought the Independence Party correlated with their political views. They knew no better. That being said, they only one with any power over this disaster is Frank McKay. Maybe he should spend a little less time at Oheka Castle and travel out to the east end. Without his intervention she stays in control.
By pluff (60), East Hampton on Aug 25, 18 2:31 PM
Politicians and lawyers, OH WELL...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 25, 18 3:16 PM
Pat Mansir didn't show up to court??
By disappointed (96), wainscott on Aug 25, 18 4:09 PM
Nope. Sounds like Amos Goodman was spot on. Everything he said was true. Few people in this town have the balls and brains to pull something like this off. And he even did it with grace. He's really growing into the position.
By SpringsBub (11), Springs on Aug 28, 18 6:28 PM
Pat Mansir is the Hillary Clinton of East Hampton. We've all had enough of both of them.
By Hobie58148 (15), East Hampton on Aug 25, 18 5:53 PM
Does this mean I won’t be receiving any more political flyers from Gruber? Yeah!!!

By harbor (415), East Hampton on Aug 26, 18 8:30 AM
Goodman is classy and effective. Right call to take the win and throw Patsy a lifeline. She's served her community and doesn't need to be crucified.

Elaine Jones has been a blackhole of venom and lies for decades. This might be the first time anyone's stood up to her! Go Amos!
By SpringsBub (11), Springs on Aug 27, 18 12:38 AM
Does this mean Gruber can go remove all the annoying signs he's posted everywhere, he is no longer a legitimate candidate.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Aug 27, 18 6:55 AM
Amos for Supervisor!
By SpringsBub (11), Springs on Aug 28, 18 6:28 PM
This saga is not over yet folks. A new chapter has just begun. The Republican Party should get a new Chairman. He is not the hero you all think. How did Amos Goodman sign as a notary for a dead man? To be continued.
By housewife (79), east hampton on Aug 30, 18 1:48 AM
Housewife - it is the "I" party that should get a new Chairman.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 15, 18 11:44 AM
i would venture to say that people who signed up as "I" voters are not interested in Housewife's "saga" - or the "I" committee choices of loser candidates like David Gruber or Rona Klopman - who was endorsed by the committee as a Trustee of all things! Even while she was charged with dumping her pool water into environmentally sensitive areas not once, but TWICE. How do we find out who is actually on the "I" committee besides Elaine Jones and Pat Mansir? Apparently for self-promoting reasons ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 15, 18 11:40 AM