ALBANY — The New York State Libertarian Party has removed its top two Niagara County officers in a dispute over the endorsements of seven candidates for state and local offices.
The interim state committee of the party said, in a statement released late Monday, that it had removed Niagara County Libertarian Party Chair Charles Flynn and Party Secretary Kathleen Ligammari from their posts. The committee said the pair were sacked for misrepresenting their authority and submitting fraudulent certificates of authorization to the Niagara County and New York State Boards of Elections.
State party officials also said that Flynn and Ligammari had been banned from holding any Libertarian Party of New York county and state leadership positions for a period of 10 years.
Certificates of authorization, also known as ballot certificates, signify to boards of elections that candidates have the permission of a political party to run on their ballot line in an election. Under Libertarian Party of New York rules, only the interim state committee is authorized to issue certificates of authorization to cross-endorsed, non-Libertarian candidates.
According to state party leaders, the Niagara County committee of the party submitted a list of cross-endorsed candidates to the party's interim state committee. But the interim state committee declined to issue certificates of authorization to the cross-endorsed candidates.
Party leaders charge that after the interim committee action, Flynn and Ligammari submitted three false certificates to the New York State Board of Elections and one false certificate to the Niagara County Board of Elections certifying that the “Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party” had met and approved an authorization for the cross-endorsed candidates.
The state candidates involved in the disputed authorizations are Sen. Robert Ortt (District 62), Assemblyman Michael Norris (District 144), and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (District 145).
The local candidates with disputed authorizations are Brian Seaman (Niagara County District Attorney), Michael Filicetti (Niagara County Sheriff), Jeffery Dewart (Town of Somerset Supervisor) and Fredrick Leuer (Town of Somerset Councilman).
“The Libertarian Party of New York is the party of principle," state party chair Anthony D’Orazio said. "(The party) is willing to consider non-Libertarian candidates who wish to appear on our line, who share our ideals. However, we will not sell our hard-fought ballot line to the highest bidder."
D’Orazio accused Flynn and Ligammari of fraud in placing the state and local candidates on the ballot.
"Although it pains us to take this action against fellow Libertarian Party members, libertarians universally agree that fraud is intolerable," D’Orazio said. "The ISC’s action recognizes the importance of party rules and election law in protecting our party from being invaded by the two major parties."
Neither Flynn nor Ligammari, who also serves as the Niagara Falls City Clerk could immediately be reached for comment.
D’Orazio called on all the cross-endorsed candidates "to withdraw from our line and issue public statements denouncing the rogue county officers’ actions.”