Known for running afoul of state party leaders, local Independence Party member Mary Rose Gaughan is at it again. Her group of local Indy allies, fresh off a failed attempt to establish an Erie County organization, is circulating invitations to a May 9th fundraiser.
In reaction, State Chairman Frank MacKay blasted the group as a rogue operation.
"It has come to the attention of the Independence Party of New York that a small group of members of the Independence Party within Erie County is holding a fundraiser on May 9th. This group is not any kind of party organization and in no way can perform any of the duties of a legitimate county organization," MacKay said in a statement to the press.
Insiders say Gaughan is raising money to endorse local candidates. That's against Party rules, according to state leaders.
Several months ago, Gaughan led a group of Erie County State Committee members in organizing an Interim County Organization for Erie County. State officials cried foul and dissolved the group in February. Weeks later, the Party's Removal Committee removed Gaughan and her allies from the State Committee. Officially, they're now just registered members of the Independence Party and hold no office.
MacKay says the very carefully written invitation - from 'members of the Independence Party of Erie County' - is deceptive. It looks quite official, but the group is not associated with the Independence Party State Committee.
"Evidently, this group's lawyer told them they would be crossing the line, both civilly and criminally, if they advertised themselves as the Erie County Independence Party," MacKay said. "Our State Committee takes this renegade fundraising attempt seriously and will take all legal steps against this group."
After her Interim Committee was dissolved in March, Gaughan told me her ultimate goal was to organize Independence Party endorsements at the local level. Erie County is an exceptional case in the Party where statewide officials make all endorsements.
"Why shouldn't locals have a say? We're the ones who know the candidates and know the local problems," Gaughan said.
According to political operatives, Gaughan is moving forward to endorse locally and this fundraiser is part of the plan. Look for quick legal action from MacKay if she tries.