Queens GOP heavies battle over leadership

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The rift between two warring factions of the Queens Republican Party just got deeper.

The Haggerty brothers, Bart and John, and their allies are claiming Queens GOP Chairman Phil Ragusa was not rightfully elected at an Oct. 3 meeting because of a flawed voting process and contend Bart Haggerty is the rightful borough leader.

But Ragusa said he was decisively re-elected at the Oct. 3 Queens GOP reorganizational meeting and it is clear he is the chairman of the party, not his opponent, Bart Haggerty.

“There’s not a dispute on our end,” Ragusa said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I’m the chairman of Queens County. You can go to the [Republican] state committee Web site and I’m listed as chairman.”

Ragusa said he got about 62 percent of the vote at the meeting against Bart Haggerty.

“On all fronts, I won the vote,” he said.

As for the Haggertys, Ragusa said, “They have just an utter disregard for the law and [think they] could do anything they want. What they did was file fraudulent papers.”

But Haggerty said the weighted voting system used in the election was improper and the way proxy voters were disqualified was not transparent.

“The reality is the only fraud perpetrated here is on Mr. Ragusa’s part,” he said. “The whole thing is very problematic in the way that it’s run. Clearly, they’re not concerned about transparen­cy.”

Haggerty said the Queens GOP currently has “two functional executive committees” and that either entity can continue with party business.

“I believe that as of right now, either committee can issue an endorsement,” he said. “Mr. Ragusa would be pleased if I folded my tent, so to speak, but that’s not happening.”

Ragusa said his side filed a complaint with the Manhattan district attorney over the Haggertys’ challenge to his chairmanship.

He said the DA’s office went to the city Board of Elections and asked for copies of filings involving the vote.

Ragusa said former City Councilman Tom Ognibene, who is aligned with the Haggertys, recognizes him as Queens GOP chairman and congratulated him on his victory.

But Ognibene said that is not the case and that he supports Bart Haggerty. Ognibene’s wife is a member of Haggerty’s executive committee.

“I think [Ragusa’s camp] used a weighted system that was inappropri­ate,” Ognibene said. “I don’t think he legally, at that [Oct. 3.] meeting, obtained the status of Queens County chairman.”

Ognibene said the meeting should have been court-supervised, which would have resolved the leadership issue.

Judith Stupp, a member of the Queens GOP executive committee, said Ragusa fairly won the election.

“In my opinion, you have one lawful chairman and one lawful executive committee,” she said.

Stupp said the state GOP is dealing with Ragusa and recognizes him as chairman.

“The state Republican Party, they’re not reaching out to Bart Haggerty,” she said, calling the Haggertys’ position “a delusion of theirs.”

“The Haggertys are pretenders to the throne,” she said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:48 pm, October 10, 2011
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