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Milford lawsuit joins ongoing battle for Independent Party control

September 20, 2018

A Milford resident is suing the Connecticut Independent Party, its leaders and state Senate candidate Democrat James Maroney to remove his name from the party’s ballot line.

Louis Elmo, an occupational therapist, filed a complaint Tuesday in the Milford Superior Court claiming the Independent Party broke party rules when it nominated Maroney, who is running for state Senate in the district that includes Milford, West Haven, Orange and Woodbridge.

Maroney is facing Republican state Rep. Pam Staneski for the seat that Democrat Gayle Slossberg is vacating after 14 years. Maroney won the Independent Party nomination over Staneski 25-10, giving him a second line on the November ballot.

The case joins several previous cases in which two factions of the Independent Party have legally disputed who their nominees should be and who controls rightly controls the party. The Danbury wing of the party and the Waterbury wing — lead by Michael Telesca and Rocco J. Frank Jr., who are also defendants in Elmo’s lawsuit — have pending court cases.

In the new lawsuit, Elmo alleges that many rules were not followed at the August 29 Independent Party nominating meeting in Waterbury, including ineligible members voting. The complaint claims that the meeting was improperly presided over by Frank.

While Maroney is not accused of any wrongdoing in the lawsuit, he said Thursday he feels targeted because the lawsuit is not seeking to strip ballot lines from other candidates nominated at the same meeting.

“They didn’t mention any of the Republicans who were nominated,” he said.

In his complaint, Elmo, 46, says he is a registered Independent. Voter registration data shows Elmo is actively registered as a Republican.

Elmo and his attorney John Drapp of Bridgeport did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the past, the Danbury wing has faced criticism that it has hijacked by the Republican party to boost conservatives, much like the liberal Working Families Party often uses cross-endorsements to give another line to Democrats.

Telesca, Frank, and Staneski also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, also named as a defendant, declined to comment.

The Independent Party now has 25,742, according to the Secretary of the State’s office.

In August, a trial court judge sided with Telesca and Frank of the Waterbury faction as they wrestled for control of party with the Danbury wing, lead by John Dietter.

The Danbury wing appealed the case on Sept. 7. Slossberg and Staneski are named as plaintiffs in the suit. The case was transferred to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. A hearing date has not been set.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson

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