Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006 10:04 pm
Gubernatorial candidate threatens to sue Ohio lawyer who questions his residency
By most accounts, Andy Martin has an uphill fight if he hopes to become the Republican Party’s nominee for governor. But even if he somehow manages to win his party’s nod and the general election, he may not be eligible to hold office, according to an Ohio lawyer. On Dec. 29, Canton, Ohio-based attorney Craig T. Conley asked the Illinois State Board of Elections to determine whether Martin actually is a resident of the state of Illinois. Conley says he made the request after trying to serve Martin with legal documents at what he presumed was Martin’s residential address, in downtown Chicago. His certified letter was returned “unclaimed” on Dec. 16, bearing a sticker that reads: “New address is PO Box 1851 New York, NY 10150-1851.” An Internet search of the address leads to a Web site for a group called First Responders for Military Families, which lists Martin as its executive director. The state Constitution dictates that a person must live in Illinois for at least three years before his or her election to be eligible to hold the office of governor. Though Conley missed the deadline to file a formal objection to Martin’s petition to place his name on March’s primary ballot, he has asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate Martin for fraud for soliciting campaign contributions. Conley’s argument: Martin should know that he does not meet the residency requirements and can’t legally become governor in 2006. Asked about Conley’s objection, Martin responded by e-mail, calling the question “asinine and unprofessional.” He added, “We are preparing to file a lawsuit against the crackpot who wrote to the State Board of Elections.” Martin’s threat of a lawsuit, though news to Conley, wasn’t at all surprising to him. He and Martin are suing each other in Ohio. In addition, Martin has filed hundreds of lawsuits over the past three decades in Connecticut, New York, Florida, and Illinois. In January 2000, the Florida Supreme Court called Martin, whose real name is Anthony Robert Martin-Trigona, one the state’s “most active, as well as abusive” litigants for filing nearly 30 petitions in courts there in the Sunshine State. “Everybody’s a ‘crackpot,’ ” Conley says in response to Martin’s threat, “and everything is a ‘conspiracy’ — usually headed by Jews.” Over the years, many courts have commented on Martin’s anti-Semitism. In 1982, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals noted that Martin used legal pleadings to “launch vicious attacks upon persons of Jewish heritage.” “This guy’s not on the same planet as us,” Conley says.