Appeals Court Unanimously Sees Past Gashi’s Baseless Lawsuit; Branda Denounces Attempt by Gashi to Buy an Uncontested Election
In a unanimous 4-0 decision, the 2nd Judicial Department of the New York State Appellate Court today prevented County Legislator Vedat Gashi’s most recent attempt to prevent ballot access for his Republican opponent, Dan Branda, in November’s election.
The Appellate Court agreed with the initial determination of Judge Hal Greenwald of Westchester County Supreme Court that Gashi offered no evidence to support his six baseless accusations of fraud.
“I appreciate the quick and unanimous decision by the Appellate Court, and by Judge Greenwald at the outset, so that we can get to work actually discussing the issues of this campaign,” Branda said. “Hopefully, this decision by the Appellate Court puts an end to the obscene and cynical attempt by my opponent to win this election in the court room. However, based on the shameless way Vedat Gashi and his attorneys pursued their baseless allegations, and the fact that he succeeded in putting a high dollar value on ballot access, I fear that this is just the first salvo in my opponent’s attempts to use the courts and his money to preserve his seat on the County Board of Legislators.”
Branda added, “I am grateful for the thorough, professional, and successful work of my bi-partisan team of attorneys, John Sarcone and Tom Abinanti, who worked under the strain of a compressed court calendar to twice deliver victory.”
On April 24, Gashi initiated a “candidate aggrieved” hearing in Westchester County Supreme Court to invalidate Branda’s place on the General Election ballot as the nominated Republican candidate. Gashi made six unfounded accusations of fraud against Branda and offered no testimony and presented no evidence to support those claims in his filing and in court.
Instead, Gashi’s attorney used the trial to harass and badger Branda during testimony.
“With nothing but his hopes and prayers for an uncontested re-election and the money to pursue his goals, Gashi through his attorney mocked the decisions my family has made to support the Quality of Life for my wife, who has a significant and painful physical disability that requires frequent surgeries every year. He mocked our decisions regarding the education of our children. And he flat our accused me of being a bigot. Offering no evidence, Vedat Gashi essentially attempted to bully me into conceding this election before it started,” Branda said.
On May 1st, the Supreme Court ruled correctly that Gashi offered no evidence to support his accusations, a ruling that the Appellate Court unanimously upheld today.
However, Branda said that Gashi’s intent was never to prove fraud. Instead, as evidenced by Gashi’s appellate brief that significantly distorted Branda’s testimony in an attempt to create a fantasy fact pattern, Gashi’s true intention is to force Branda into an expensive litigation.
Branda said, “We should be working to make ballot access easier, especially at the local government level. Instead, Vedat Gashi—on the State Democratic Party machine that has engaged in similar lawsuits up and down the state for years—has signaled that if you can’t afford an Election Lawyer, you can’t afford to run for office. This is symptomatic of the shameful professionalization of local politics, which is poisoning our communities with animosity and pitting neighbors against each other on ideological grounds when our end goals are actually aligned.”
At the outset of this proceeding, Branda called for protecting our voting rights by advancing policy proposals to expand ballot access and remove unfair obstacles in New York for candidates, including independent candidates.
“Protecting ballot access is as important as protecting our right to vote; without ballot access, the right to vote is meaningless,” Branda concluded.
At the heart of the Gashi complaint is Branda's second residence in Cold Spring, a small apartment that his family rents on a short lease. They also own their family home in Somers. Branda's wife lives with a disability that, among other restrictions, makes it difficult for her to drive and the Cold Spring apartment provides a walkable community for her and the children.