A judge ripped leaders of the Brooklyn Democratic Party for illegally filling 2,400 vacant party positions without input from other members of the organization’s county committee.
Brooklyn state Justice Edgar Walker ruled that party chairwoman Rodneyse Bichotte and the executive board violated election law by unilaterally appointing Democrats to newly created positions as well as other existing committee vacancies.
He nullified the 2,400 appointments.
There are 2,100 elected members on the county committee whose views were ignored, the judge said.
Election law “unambiguously” states that the County Committee is authorized to fill vacancies, not just the leaders, the judge said.
The executive committee passed new rules to create four new at large, non-binary positions in Brooklyn’s 18 Assembly Districts. The leaders then appointed Democrats to 2,400 vacant positions, including the new at large positions, at a Dec. 2 meeting.
But members of the reform New Kings Democratic club who serve on the county committee filed a lawsuit, claiming Democratic leaders had engaged in an illegal power play in a bid to pack and control the committee.
Walter, in his 15-page ruling, said the law forbids party leaders from filling vacancies for new or additional at-large county committee positions.
“As such,” Walker said, “the newly created ‘at large’ County Committee positions are not vacancies under the Election Law and, therefore, can only be filled prospectively” — during the next scheduled elections in 2022.
“These individuals are not KCDCC members and may not function as such,” he said.
It’s the second time since October that Judge Walker has declared actions by the Bichotte-led party illegal. In a previous ruling, he said party leaders violated election law by failing to convene a county organizational meeting during the pandemic.
“The Brooklyn Democratic Party has been abusing its power, undermining democracy, and violating the Election Law. It’s time for this to stop” said Ali Najmi, the election lawyer who represented 11 plaintiffs in the case.
Frank Carone, a lawyer representing the party leadership, said he will review the decision.