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May 30, 2018 3:38 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Judge Throws Out Challenge To East Hampton Democratic Leadership

Jeanne Frankl
Jun 4, 2018 10:18 PM

A county judge last week dismissed a lawsuit that had blocked the East Hampton Town Democratic Party from holding a vote on its future leadership, according to party representatives.

The suit had been brought by Rona Klopman, a member of the party’s committee who has accused party chairwoman, Jeanne Frankl, and other members of the committee of scheming to stack votes in the election of a new chairperson the party had planned to hold earlier this year.

In May Justice Joseph Santorelli had granted a temporary restraining order to Ms. Klopman, who has said she wants to be the group’s next chair. The restraining order barred the committee from holding an election barely 24 hours before a scheduled vote.

Judge Santorelli issued his order to dismiss the suit orally in a court hearing on Tuesday, May 29, and transcripts of the order are not available yet. But an attorney for the Democratic Party, Christopher Kelley, said that the judge ordered the dismissal on a variety of technical grounds related to Ms. Klopman's filing of the lawsuit.

The ruling, Mr. Kelley said, lifted the restraining order immediately and the current party chairwoman, Jeanne Frankl, who has made her desire to step down known for more than a year, said in a statement on Wednesday, May 30, that the vote would be rescheduled soon.

“We are gratified today that the court recognized the pettiness of the claims in this lawsuit and the procedural irregularities of the Klopman effort," Ms. Frankl said in a statement. "Klopman’s arguments were confused and overly general and did not acknowledge the reality of the East Hampton Democratic Committee.”

The lawsuit had accused Ms. Frankl and other members of the committee of colluding to shuffle committee representation assignments to weight the leadership vote against Ms. Klopman and in favor of Cate Rogers, who has also said she will stand for post of chairwoman.

Ms. Klopman said she plans to appeal the ruling and said that the judge's explanation of his decision seemed to say he hadn't even reviewed the case.

"He'd made up his mind," she said later in the week. "There were supposed to be oral arguments but he just said nope, the case is dismissed. There's no doubt that this will be pursued."

Ms. Frankl said that the committee hopes to be able to hold the vote on her successor at its next meeting, which is scheduled for June 20.

"I'm going to be very happy to turn it over to new leadership," said Ms. Frankl, who has been the party's chairwoman for seven years, said. "It's been an unfortunate delay and it's time to get on with things."

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Democrat's still fighting.
By knitter (1574), Southampton on May 30, 18 4:23 PM