Brooklyn GOP Battles It Out In Court, And Right Here

Craig Eaton (from
Peter Cipriano (from

In Brooklyn, a borough known as the most Democratic county in the United States, the local Republican party, which is at times barely visible, is rarely considered big news.

However, a race for an admittedly obscure Republican party post in Bensonhurst has exposed passionate infighting, and possible scandal, among the GOP in this relatively conservative corner of Brooklyn.

Peter Cipriano is an up-and-comer in local Republican politics. Last year, he nearly defeated came closer than many expected to defeating incumbent Democrat Peter Abbate in the race for Abbate’s assembly seat.

Cipriano would like to be on the ballot for Republican Party District Leader for the 49th Assembly District. However, Craig Eaton, the Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman, doesn’t want that to happen. Eaton says a number of the signatures on Cipriano’s petition for ballot inclusion are invalid, citing the fact that petitioners had previously signed paperwork for other candidates.

In response, Cipriano announced yesterday that he had filed papers in New York State Supreme Court last Friday July 29, attempting to prevent Matthew Graves, Eaton’s first choice for the job, from getting on the ballot himself. A copy of his petition was made available to Bensonhurst Bean Sunday night.

In addition, Cipriano is accusing Eaton of  using his position as party chairman to influence the petitioning process, including a  “pay to play” influence peddling scheme to reward loyal party members with jobs as poll workers.

Cipriano says he expects the judge will rule on the petition in his favor.

From Brooklyn Eagle:

“I feel confident that I will win this suit,” said Cipriano, a student at the College of Staten Island. Cipriano, who originally planned to represent himself, changed his mind and has hired lawyer Marion Conde da Silveria, an expert in election law, to represent him in court.
District leaders, officially known as state committeemen and state committeewomen, are the workhorses of the political party system. They are members of a party’s state committee and work at a grassroots level to help select candidates for public office, supervise volunteers in the collection of petition signatures, and to help get voters to the polls on Election Day.
There is a male and female district leader for every political party in every assembly district in New York. In addition to Cipriano, there are other hopefuls seeking to run for district leader in the 49th Assembly District, including John Bennett and Steve Maresca. Marc D’Ottavio, who had been supported by Eaton, declined to accept Eaton’s offer to run for the post. After D’Ottavio decided not to run, Eaton threw his support behind Graves, a Bensonhurst resident who works for the New York City Board of Elections.

There’s seems to be the feeling among the local GOP that Cipriano betrayed Eaton, who had thrown his support behind Cipriano during his long shot race for Assemblyman against Democrat Abbate.

“Craig really took Peter under his wing and helped him run,” said one party official.

With bad blood abounding among local active Republicans, things got ugly right here on the Bean yesterday. Comments left by a readers ‘Eric’ and ‘Avid Reader’ repeatedly brought up the subject of Cipriano’s age as they tried to discredit his charges against Eaton. ‘Avid Reader’ eventually stooped to insults, calling Cipriano a “spoiled child.”

The judge is expected to rule on Cipriano’s petition today. Eaton, much like Cipriano, is expressing certainty that things will go his way.

“His suit has no merit. I expect that it’ll be thrown out of court,” Eaton said.