From the Morning Memo:

These days, former Republican state Attorney General Dennis Vacco is a partner at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP in Buffalo, and among his clients is Buffalo Board of Education member Carl Paladino, who is currently facing four separate appeals to the state education commissioner for his removal from office.

Vacco and Paladino are going on the offensive, although they didn’t expect their decision to draw so much attention this soon.

The attorney found himself answering questions this week about his plan to file a federal lawsuit alleging a conspiracy against Paladino’s First Amendment rights – even though he didn’t initially make that information public.

In anticipation of the suit, Vacco asked the state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, for a stay of three of the appeals currently pending against his client. The fourth petitioner, the District Parent Coordinating Council, actually requested to join the action yesterday, and submitted Vacco’s stay as evidence.

It was the DPCC that first spoke to the media. Vacco said he’s not sure how the council’s request will affect Elia’s decision.

“Whether she grants it or not remains to be seen, but that’s not going to deter us from moving forward with our federal litigation,” he said.

Vacco believes an invoice he obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request clearly shows proof that the board coordinated with both the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization and New York State United Teachers in their effort to oust Paladino.

In short, he claims that the BOE attorney knew they couldn’t ask for Paladino’s removal based on derogatory comments he made about the Obamas late last year, but nevertheless recruited and helped the two other petitioners do it anyway.

“We’re saying that these other lawsuits, once the majority members lawyer figured out that the board couldn’t attack him on speech, because it’s constitutionally protected, they wanted to gin up these other groups to come after him, to inflame the record, if you will,” Vacco said.

In the lawsuit, Vacco and Paladino plan to seek an annulment of the appeals as well as monetary damages. As for the timeline, Vacco said they’re getting their papers in order. He declined to speculate when the lawsuit itself will actually materialize.

A spokesperson for Elia said the commissioner can’t predict the actions of a judge for a lawsuit that hasn’t been filed yet, so the department was unable to respond to the request for a stay at this time.