Wacky Westchester County Race Goes to Court

MANHATTAN (CN) – A strip club owner who founded the Westchester tea party claims in court that the incumbent Republican candidate for county executive and more than 100 of his cronies “raided” the Independence Party to rig today’s election.
     The Westchester County Independence Party, its county executive candidate Richard Rhoades, its District Leader Sam Zherka and other officers and members sued County Executive Rob Astorino and more than 100 of his Republican backers, in Federal Court.
     The 58-page lawsuit, filed on Halloween, states: “Motivated by greed, patronage, and the pecuniary interest in county jobs and power, the co-conspirator defendants, by inducing and coercing individuals to switch their party affiliations and enlist in the Independence Party, violated constitutional rights, federal, state county laws and criminal laws under the State of New York.”
     Rhoades et al. claim that “motivated by fraudulent intent,” Astorino’s “cronies employed at the Board of Election stamped hundreds of changes in party affiliation.”
     William O’Reilly, spokesman for the Friends of County Executive Rob Astorino, derided the lawsuit as “a pre-election day PR stunt made on Noam Bramson’s behalf,” referring to the Democratic challenger in the race.
     Bramson is not a party to the lawsuit. His spokesman Bobby Caro brushed off this accusation, in an email.
     “The Astorino campaign likes to make unfounded, scurrilous accusations against us,” Caro wrote. “In fact, twelve separate attacks of theirs have been shot down by an independent, nonpartisan campaign watchdog.”
     O’Reilly described Zherka, who filed the complaint pro se, as a “New York City strip club owner and the founder of the Westchester tea party.”
     Zherka, who owns the VIP Club and Cheetah’s Gentleman’s Club in Manhattan, calls himself the “loudest voice” for the tea party in New York state, according to the political blog Talking Points Memo.
     Peter Tilem, of Tilem & Campbell, who represents Zherka’s co-plaintiffs, also signed the complaint.
     They want $100 million in damages for eight counts, including racketeering, fraud and conspiracy.

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