A lawyer for Westchester Independence Party Chairman Giulio Cavallo said Friday that an effort to remove nearly 4,000 members from the party was necessary after Republicans under County Executive Rob Astorino tried to take over, or raid, the party.
“As the chairman of the party he feels an obligation to protect the party,” said Peter Tilem, who is representing the party as it asks a state judge to affirm its decision to remove the members.
State law allows a party to remove members, with the consent of a judge, if they are found not to be in sympathy with the principles of the party. Tilem said the Republicans’ efforts to raid the party to try to get rid of Cavallo and other leaders and secure the nomination in the 2013 county executive election were well documented. A judge affirmed the party’s right to kick out six members earlier this year who were working to get Astorino on the primary ballot to challenge the party’s endorsed candidate, Democratic New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson.
Tilem acknowledged that the party may have swept up Independence voters who had no part in the party raid by targeting voters who had registered after Jan. 1, 2012. But he said if they are legitimate members they should have shown up in August at the hearings the party held before deciding who to kick out or should show up in court Dec. 17.
“There’s no way of knowing who went in with the right motives and who went in with the wrong motives,” he said.
He said disenrolled party members will still be on the voter rolls as unaffiliated voters.