Democratic commissioner sues Democratic party members, claiming defamation

Marco Caviglia, the Democratic commissioner of the Dutchess County Board of Elections, is suing party members who he claims are trying to prevent him from being recommended for reelection this fall.

Caviglia filed a lawsuit last month against county Democratic Committee Chairperson Elisa Sumner, and former county elections specialist Jasmin Vasquez, as well as "other anticipated defendants whose identities are not yet known" — 50 unidentified men and 50 unidentified women.

Caviglia in the suit claims the defendants have intentionally "damaged and destroyed" his "reputation and credibility," acting so that he is "mislabeled, disliked, disbelieved, hated, shunned and considered unsuitable for reappointment to his position."

By the end of 2018, Caviglia will have served as commissioner for five years. Should he be reelected, he would serve another two-year term. He alleges in the suit that losing the position would cost him his salary, retirement benefits and employee benefits.

Caviglia is requesting compensatory damages, estimated at $617,600 for lost wages and benefits, $209,440 in reduced retirement benefits, $500,000 for distress, humiliation and $50,000 for special damages from defendants, according to the lawsuit. 

Attorney Michael Treybich is representing Sumner and Vasquez. He said the implication of the compensation means Caviglia believes he is entitled to the commissioner position for life.

"I don't see the court awarding him this at all," Treybich said.

Caviglia said the defendants have painted him as a misogynist and a bully.

Caviglia is asking in the suit that all defendants to stop sharing and retract any "defamatory statements." Treybich said that request would violates the First Amendment.

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