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Brooklyn Democrats sued for consolidating vacancy appointments to party leadership

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A dozen Democrats sued the Brooklyn Democratic Party on Thursday over a recent rule change shifting the power to fill thousands of membership vacancies from its rank-and-file to the party’s executive leadership.

The 12 County Committee members filed a complaint Dec. 3 requesting a Kings County Supreme Court judge void an amendment giving the party’s 42-member Executive Committee the power to appoint thousands of people to currently-vacant lower-level seats, saying it violated both state Election Law and a previous order from the court.

The controversial clause was part of a Nov. 29 rule change allowing for gender non-binary Democrats to run for 84 new gender-neutral seats of the party’s County Committee — the lowest rung of elected office, representing a couple of blocks — whose roughly 5,400 seats currently have to be equally split among male and female Democrats, based on a 1930’s state law aimed at bringing more women into politics.

Party officials claimed the changes to its rules were meant to bring more members into the body politic as quickly as possible to ensure that they can fully participate by the next full organizational meeting, which Brooklyn Democrats are supposed to hold by Dec. 11, according to an Oct. 27 judge’s order.

However, several progressive and reform-oriented pols accused the party of using the non-binary enfranchisement as a “pink-washed” ruse for a power grab, allowing leaders to pack the larger membership with party loyalists.

The new suit cites a heated moment during a marathon Executive Committee session Wednesday, in which former party boss and current Canarsie District Leader Frank Seddio confirmed those accusations, saying: “We need all the County Committee [members] we can get to overcome these f—— progressives when we have the meeting.”

Previously, County Committee members were elected at a full party meeting every two years by the full membership, in accordance with state Election Law. 

An Oct. 27 judge’s order also required party leaders to hold the in-person meeting this year, adding that the Executive Committee could not act on behalf of the County Committee “on any substantial matter.”

By Wednesday night District Leaders filled more than 2,000 vacant seats, according to a press release by the party the following day, however the complaint demands that all those appointments made prior to the organizational meeting be reversed.

A spokesman for the party did not directly address the legal challenge, but said that the Brooklyn Dems doubled their ranks and that they were proud to welcome politicos in many shades of blue.

“The doubling of participation in our party is something all Democrats, no matter their leanings, should rally around,” said political consultant George Arzt in a statement. “We are proud that our inclusive party is composed of Democrats with every point of view: progressive, moderate, centrist and left-leaning. We are united in one body and we will continue to ensure that every corner of Brooklyn feels welcomed in our party.”

This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.

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