Brooklyn Dems violate law by failing to hold organizational meeting

A state judge slapped the leadership of the Brooklyn Democratic Party for violating election law by failing to hold its organizational meeting.

The Kings County Democratic Committee organizational meeting is where party activists elect officers, adopt rules, fill vacancies and conduct other business.

Citing the coronavirus pandemic and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders aimed at containing the spread of the bug, the Brooklyn Democratic Party did not hold any meeting — in person, virtual video conference or teleconference.

Party chairwoman Rodneyse Bichotte said it would be wrong to hold a virtual meeting because it would exclude members who don’t have access to technology from participating.

But elected party committee members who belong to the reform New Kings Democrats club said failure to hold a virtual or teleconference meeting disenfranchised members and filed a lawsuit against the party claiming it violated election law.

Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Edgar Walker agreed with the plaintiffs in a strongly worded 16-page ruling released Tuesday that ordered the party leadership to hold an organizational meeting within 45 days.

“KCDCC cannot simply postpone/suspend holding the committee meeting indefinitely when there are other viable means in which they could conduct such meeting,” Walker said.

“Additionally, KCDCC’s contention that the amendment is necessary to prevent disenfranchising members who may lack internet access or smart phone technology is somewhat disingenuous. While the court recognizes the need to protect and safeguard those members who face technological challenges, the amendment in fact has the contrary impact of disenfranchising all of KCDCC’s members, a vast majority of which probably do have internet access and would be able to participate in a virtual committee meeting,” he said.

“Public policy weighs in favor of ensuring that the majority of KCDCC’s members are afforded the opportunity to meet and organize. In addition, the court notes that other remedies could be fashioned to address the inequalities which may exist in proceeding with a meeting via a virtual format (in whole or in part).”

Walker also said the party organization’s “justification” for postponing the committee meeting indefinitely is “merely a ruse for the leadership of the Executive Committee to retain their authority, and is insufficient to insulate KCDCC from its obligation to comply with the Election Law mandate of holding such meeting.”

Ali Najmi, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, “Democracy has been restored in Brooklyn. The party leadership cannot just ignore the Election Law and rights of County Committee members.”

The Brooklyn Democratic Party organization is appealing the ruling, said spokesman George Arzt.