In a lawsuit filed this morning, former Senate President Steve Sweeney is asking a judge to return him to New Jersey’s legislative redistricting panel., saying that Democratic State Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. didn’t have the authority to remove him.
Attorney William Tambussi, says that Jones violated the State Constitution by ejecting Sweeney and that acting Secretary of State Tahesha Way unlawfully certified the appointment of a new member, Laura Matos.
Jones announced on Wednesday that he was removing Sweeney from the commission.
Court papers also say that the replacement of Sweeney didn’t consider South Jersey representation on the panel and that the legal deadline to appoint members has passed.
This sets up a court fight between two top-flight election law attorneys: Tambussi, who knows New Jersey as well as anyone, and Marc Elias and Jonathan Berkon, nationally-renowned election lawyers who have been retained by Jones.
Sweeney also alleges that a party loyalty agreement he and other commissioners signed prior to their appointment “constitutes a binding and enforceable contract between Sweeney and Jones.”
In his filing, Tambussi said that Sweeney “has complied with the terms of the Agreement at all applicable times.”
“Sweeney fulfilled all duties and obligations as a member of the Commission from the time of his appointment to the Commission until his removal without cause or authority by Jones,” Tambussi said in his petition to the court.
Tambussi argues that the agreement “does not permit removal from the commission in the absence of a violation of its terms.”
The filing says that Sweeney “undisputedly entered into a contract with the commission by way of the November 2020 agreement appointing him as Democratic member of the commission. The clear intent of the parties was to appoint Sweeney to the commission and to limit what Sweeney and all other members of the commission could say or do.”
Tambussi is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the New Jersey Apportionment Commission from taking any actions before the court considers his arguments.
The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in Mercer County.
“Chairman Jones had the authority to remove Mr. Sweeney from the Commission, just as Mr. Sweeney had the authority to remove Mayor Hawkins from the congressional redistricting commission a decade ago,” said Berkon, referring to Sweeney’s decision to remove a Democratic congressional redistricting commission member in 2010.Steve Sweeney complaint