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Nov 20, 2018 2:26 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Republicans Ask Amos Goodman To Step Down As Party Chairman

Nov 20, 2018 2:52 PM

The East Hampton Town Republican Party committee has asked its chairman, Amos Goodman, to step down in the wake of this month’s loss at the polls, because of what they say is Mr. Goodman’s “erratic behavior,” and after the revelation that the Suffolk County district attorney’s office appears to be investigating allegations of forgery on the party’s nominating petitions.

In a letter to Mr. Goodman this week, members of the party’s executive committee told Mr. Goodman they had lost confidence in his leadership and would like him to relinquish his post as the head of the party.

“About two weeks before Election Day, [Mr. Goodman] went totally AWOL and stopped responding to any sort of correspondence from any of us,” said one party member who had worked on the campaign but spoke on condition of anonymity, since the person is not an official spokesperson for the party. “His behavior was beyond erratic.”

The committee pointed to the broad loss at the polls by Manny Vilar, who was running for Town Board, and some of the tactics Mr. Goodman had employed in the early stages of the campaign as points that soured their faith in his leadership.

Mr. Goodman said on Tuesday that he had not yet received the letter but acknowledged that he had been considering giving up the party helm anyway. He said that he will not “cling to” the chairmanship and will step aside if that is what is seen as being in the best interests of the party.

He also said he would wish well to whoever takes over and would help in any way he could with future party efforts. “I’m not going to be a bad sport about it,” he said. “If someone else can crack the nut of this town then I support them fully. It will not be easy.”

In a conversation last week, Mr. Goodman said he was frustrated by the seemingly insurmountable odds of a Republican winning elected office in the town in the current climate, and he said it would seem to take self-immolation by the Democrats—like the 2009 financial crisis—to ever see the Republicans in power again. He said at the time that he was already thinking about leaving his post.

“I’m not interested in being a pinata,” he said. “I’m not interested in something that is impossible to skin in a different way. I’m not interested in a fruitless task. I have plenty of other things to do in my life.”

Mr. Goodman came onto the local political scene with a splash when he was unilaterally anointed the Suffolk County Republican Party’s candidate for Suffolk County legislator in 2015 by County Chairman John J. LaValle, despite being only 31 years old, having just moved to the East End and having never held political office.

He lost that race in a landslide to former Southampton Town Board member Bridget Fleming, despite having raised more than any other county candidate that year. He remained active in town politics and on the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee.

He was elected to take over the Republican Party in the wake of its sweeping losses in the 2017 town elections, which had left the party reeling. Young and openly gay, Mr. Goodman represented a substantial departure from the local Republicans’ leadership in the past. “But he seemed very energetic, and that’s what people thought we needed,” said another party member who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Goodman dove into this year’s special election race, for a single Town Board seat for just a one-year term, with particular fervor. He convinced Mr. Vilar to run again for the second year in a row and mounted a campaign of horse-trading and political gamesmanship to give Mr. Vilar what the chairman saw as the best chance at winning.

He marshaled the filing of nominating petitions for Lisa Larsen, an Independence Party member who ran for Town Board on the Republican line in 2015, to primary for the Independence line against that party committee’s nominee, rogue Democrat David Gruber.

Ms. Larsen declined the nomination the day after the petitions supporting her were filed. But her petitions, most of which had been notarized by Republican Party officials, named Mr. Goodman and other Republicans as her chosen “replacement committee,” allowing them to propose someone to take her rightful spot on the primary ballot.

Independence Party officials said they suspected that Ms. Larsen had never intended to run—something Ms. Larsen denied—and that Mr. Goodman had schemed her candidacy as a way of getting Mr. Vilar on the Independence line for the general election. They refused to give Mr. Vilar the necessary authorizations to participate in the primary in Ms. Larsen’s place.

Mr. Goodman then mounted a legal challenge to the Independence Party petitions for Mr. Gruber, claiming that some of them had been forged. He hired a private investigator, whom he said he had used in the past for business dealings, to interview supposed signatories of the petitions, and collected affidavits from eight individuals who said they had not in fact signed petition sheets submitted by Independence Party Vice-chairwoman Patricia Mansir.

In court, a State Supreme Court judge ruled that a dozen of the signatures were invalid because they did not appear to match those on record of the people who purportedly signed them. Mr. Gruber was removed from the Independence line, which remained blank on the general election ballot.

The fight over the Independence petitions was costly, and also attracted a spotlight to all the petitions in the race. Mr. Goodman’s own petition sheets for Mr. Vilar’s nomination drew particular scrutiny. He had collected more than half of the signatures necessary to get Mr. Vilar on the ballot—and Independence Party Chairwoman Elaine Jones quickly accused Mr. Goodman of having forged most of them.

A survey by The Press of some of those who appeared to have signed Mr. Goodman’s petitions found more than two dozen people who said the signatures on the petition sheets were not theirs.

Mr. Goodman is a notary public—a role described by the National Notary Association as “an official of integrity” appointed to perform a “variety of fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.”

Last week, several local registered Republicans said they had been visited by investigators from Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini’s Public Integrity Bureau, posing questions about the validity of their signatures on Republican petitions.

Mr. Goodman, who has steadfastly denied having forged any signatures, said no investigators have contacted him yet, but that he would answer any questions they might have. “I will be happy to cooperate in any way I can,” he said.

Financial disclosures by the East Hampton Town Republican Committee, which were filed this week, show that Mr. Goodman’s activities made up a substantial chunk of the spending on the race.

In its disclosure forms, the party shows that it raised just $4,700—$2,000 of which came from two of its committee members, Michael Jordan and Richard Gherardi. The party had started off the cycle with about $17,000 in its campaign coffers, about $10,000 of which was transferred from a dormant campaign fund for former Supervisor William Wilkinson.

The party spent $8,093 in August, September and October. About $2,498 of that went to spending by the chairman—including meals, Uber rides and “transportation”—that were all chalked up to “fundraising” activities.

Another $2,800 went to Guy Parisi, the attorney whom Mr. Goodman hired to handle the legal challenge to the Independence Party petitions, and another $1,200 was paid to committee member Donald Cirillo as reimbursement for costs described in the disclosures only as being related to the Independence Party petition fight.

A second fundraising account that Mr. Goodman established for general committee expenses not related to a specific campaign, and controlled wholly by the party chairman, has had no disclosures filed since July, when it reported no activity.

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By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Nov 21, 18 7:20 AM
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Nov 21, 18 10:11 AM
The part I find so interesting is how ridiculous it was challenging the Independence Party for doing exactly what he had done. I guess he didn't know Elaine Jones very well. Good for her!
By disappointed (96), wainscott on Nov 21, 18 10:25 AM
I am glad that our Democrat District Attorney looked into this disgusting action by the Republican party. Regardless of what the Independence party leaders may or may not admitted to, or what they may or may not have been found to have committed in Court, it is good to know that the Democrats and the District Attorney's office we control are keeping a close eye on the GOP. Kudos to the East Hampton GOP for supporting the East Hampton Democratic Party in their efforts.
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Nov 21, 18 11:00 AM
Yes, everyone must keep an eye on the GOP, so that good Democrats, like DEMOCRAT New York Attorney General Andrew Schneiderman, the anti-Trump, Woman's March supporting serial rapist, who, when not sexually assaulting his victims, took glee in giving them a nice "love pop" sucker punch in the mouth gets a pass. He referred to one of his victims as his "brown slave". While you were busy keeping a close eye, your local hero used campaign funds to pay for his multi-million dollar criminal defense, ...more
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Nov 21, 18 11:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
Abuse and misogyny have no party.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 26, 18 10:14 PM
Right you ae JuneZ
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 27, 18 6:48 AM
I wish they could ask Trump to step down for his "erratic behavior"
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Nov 21, 18 11:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
Article is about Amos... What in the H--- has this to do about YOUR PRESIDENT??? DA???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Nov 26, 18 9:59 PM
1 member liked this comment