The New York State Independence Party Saturday dissolved the Erie County Independence Party unit headed by Mary Rose Gaughan, renewing a directive that all Erie County candidates vying for the Indy line must work with state IP leader Frank MacKay.
A disagreement was set in motion in October when Gaughan filed paperwork for an interim county organization (ICO). During a January appearance on WGRZ-TV's "2Sides," the Independence Party member identified herself as the Party's Erie County Chairman and claimed the right to authorize local candidates to run on the party line.
"That show was the last straw," a source close to the state Independence Party leadership told PoliticsNY. "The State Committee knew it had to act." A fundraiser Gaughan had planned also drew State Committee ire.
It was all over but the shouting Saturday when the Committee passed a resolution to "dissolve this illegal Interim County Organization for Erie County."
"The downstate members from Suffolk and Albany counties want to control Erie County endorsements. They think they know our candidates best, but they just don't," Gaughan said. "We're going ahead with our plans to endorse candidates and issue Wilson Pakulas."
According to Independence Party rules, members in counties without existing committees must first contact the state secretary to organize an ICO. The secretary, in this case William Bogardt, is obliged to respond within 48 hours and state leaders must address the matter.
Party sources said Gaughan did not follow this procedure. Therefore, according to state leaders, she never founded an ICO, she is not Erie County chairman, Ken Walsh will not serve as Secretary, and no money may be raised in the name of the Independence Party.
The Party took an additional step reasserting a 2006 procedure where state leaders take up all Erie County certificates of candidate authorization, nomination and substitution.
"The State Executive Committee will control Erie County authorizations for this and all foreseeable cycles," Tom Connolly, State Party vice chairman and executive director, told PoliticsNY.net.
For her part, Gaughan is adamant that she fulfilled her ICO paperwork responsibilities according to the rules. She provided PoliticsNY.net United States Postal Service receipts she claims are proof she delivered the ICO paperwork on time and that Bogardt himself signed for final documents in October.
State Executive Committee leaders also told PoliticsNY.net that a formal Removal Hearing is being scheduled to boot Gaughan from the Party's committee. Gaughan says that effort will fail since she is elected to her position.
Local pols say this weekend's actions show state IP leaders taking control back from Erie County Democrats who have long been rumored to be pulling Indy strings here behind the scenes.