"Special Senate Election Candidate Eugene Martin LaVergne was right - Lt. Governor/Secretary of State KIM GUADAGNO violated election laws". - Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin
In an unprecedented "mea culpa", Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin declared, in writing, that State Election Laws were intentionally violated during the conduct of the State Special Senate Election, and lays the blame squarely at the feet of the Lt. Governor/Secretary of State Kimberly Guadagno in her oversight role of State Elections.
(read Mr. Durkin's statement here - http://www.scribd.com/doc/190042951/Durkin-Letter)
Durkin's claim is that he was unaware of his own violation of the laws in allowing the Republican candidate a preferred ballot column, and acted specifically at the instruction of State Election Officials. Speculation has arisen that he has come forward in light of an ongoing investigation by the United States Senate.
The claim rings somewhat hollow, however, when it is considered that he and all 20 of the other county clerks were served notice of the failure of Republican candidate to meet the necessary MINIMUM standard to qualify for "preferential" placement on the ballot prior to the drawing for ballot placement. (Durkin was almost certainly aware that NEITHER party qualified for a preferential placement in the General Election, but doesn't address this in his letter.)
In the resulting action taken by candidate Eugene Martin LaVergne of the "Democratic-Republican" Party, specifically "LaVergne v. Lonegan, et al", Docket # L - 1933-13, (where every single defendant was personally served), it is important to note that no less than four of the remaining independent candidates joined LaVergne in the suit*. (Read the Brief and Exhibits here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/177393609/Copy-distributed-L-1933-13 )
That lawsuit arose out of the Clerks' collective dismissal of LaVergne's notice to them of Lonegan's failure to qualify for major party consideration, and forging ahead with the ballot construction - as Durkin claims they were ordered to do. By doing so, each knowingly violated several sections of the State Election Code - in a FEDERAL Election.
Judge Jacobson of the New Jersey State Superior Court ruled that LaVergne was, indeed, correct in his assertions that the law had been violated, but allowed procedural delays and misleading/false testimony offered by the Attorney General's Office to be her excuse for failing to provide remedy. She later further failed to act when presented with the evidence of the fraudulent testimony, again blaming her inaction on the premise that there was no time left to make remedy.
Because Judge Jacobson failed in her duty to act to enforce the laws she was sworn to uphold, Democratic-Republican Eugene Martin LaVergne prepared and filed a petition to the United States Senate Rules Committee, asking for review of the conduct of the election, with the potential that a) the election be declared a nullity, and b) that criminal investigations be brought in this election from Federal Authority, as those who violated the laws include members of the State's elected and appointed legal authority in a FEDERAL Election. This action was taken before the October 16th, 2013 Special Senate Election even took place.
To read Vice President Joe Biden's copy of the Special Senate Petition, go here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/176336043/United-States-Senate-filing-RE-NJ-SPECIAL-SENATE-ELECTION-CONTES...
Judge Jacobson's acknowledgement that the laws were, indeed, violated, creates a huge problem for those named in the suit if criminal charges result from the Senate Action.
On Background: According to New Jersey Election Law and our State Constitution, a Political Organization can only qualify for a ballot column as a "major party" by meeting a specific and stringent set of standards. Once that status is achieved, it is retained by "polling" - achieving a pre-established percentage of registered voters appearing at the polls and casting a ballot. The standard that must be met in New Jersey, per our State Constitution, is that 10% of the total number of ballots cast FOR ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES in the prior State General Election must be equaled or exceeded. The Republican Party failed to meet that standard in the 2012 Election, and again in the 2013 primary for the General Election held last month. Truth be told, the Democrats failed to "poll" in June, as well, but it could have been argued that the turnout in the Democrat "Special Election Primary" was sufficient to allow Cory Booker his column.
If a Political Party fails this test, their candidates all become, by default, "nomination by petition" - a "hardship" endured by all independent candidates. Interestingly enough, independent candidates CAN achieve a column, by "bracketing" - but a bracket request must be filed before 4:30 p.m. on the same day as the Primaries are held, while the polls are still open. This is to level the playing field for all candidates - who are guaranteed a right of association by both the State and Federal Election Laws.
Major parties MAY NOT FILE bracket requests, because they don't know the outcome of their primary election before the polls close (in theory), and, by conducting a primary election, (at TAXPAYER EXPENSE), they are agreeing that they will uniformly back the winners in their respective primaries. In short, if you don't poll, you don't get a column - not even by "bracketing".
Further, candidates who run as a major party candidate in a primary election and LOSE are enjoined from running as an independent candidate in the same election.
* Special Senate Election Candidates Robert DePasqualle, Stuart Meissner, and Pablo Olivera, and Antonio Nico Sabas all joined not only the "LaVergne v Lonegan" suit, they are fellow petitioners in LaVergne's action brought before the United States Senate Rules Committee BEFORE THE ELECTION EVEN TOOK PLACE.
It is of further note that, dissatisfied with the collusion that took place between the two so-called "major" parties in the election process, all four will be running in 2014 as "Democratic-Republicans", as will Eugene Martin LaVergne, who will again be seeking to serve New Jersey in the United States Senate. Three will be seeking House seats, and the fourth intends to run for a specific Essex County office.