Frank Morano, a long-time state Independence Party activist from Staten Island, announced this morning that he is resigning his state committee and executive committee posts, saying the third party no longer offers alternatives to the two-party system and in fact has “become just as bad, if not worse than the two major parties.”

Morano is best-known as the producer of radio host Curtis Sliwa, and is given to the grand gesture. (He memorably tried to get Lindsay Lohan to run for NYC public advocate in 2009).

But his argument here rings true. Because New York is one of the few states that allow fusion voting, third parties are constantly trying to maintain a delicate balance between small-i independence and cooperation with major party candidates – especially when it comes to the governor’s race, which can make or break a minor party.

The problem is this leads to minor parties becoming little more than handmaidens to the major parties in exchange for patronage jobs (consider the now-dead Liberal Party) and cash (consider the Indys’ relationship with Mayor Bloomberg, which has caused them nothing but heartburn of late).

Ostensibly, Morano, who said he’s a a lifelong registered member of the Independence Party, a state committee member since 2002 and an executive committee member since 2005, is resigning over the party leadership’s refusal to provide a Wilson-Pakula authorization for Staten Island Assembly candidate, Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican challenging Democratic Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer.

Morano says he was informed by state Indy Party First Vice Chairman Tom Connolly that AG Andrew Cuomo, who accepted the Indy line despite the fact that the party remains embroiled in an investigation by the Manhattan DA’s office, wanted Hyer-Spencer to get Row C.

“(M)y level of disgust, frustration and hopelessness became too much to bear,” Morano wrote.

“…This race was the last thing I was holding onto. I thought that if we could help elect a true independent, a genuine reformer, that all of these sacrifices would not have been in vain, but alas the Independence Party has become the Incumbent Dependence Party, a tool for influence peddlers like Tom Connolly to cater to the state’s most powerful leaders.”

“As a matter of conscience, I can no longer remain in the party. This is one of most painful decisions that I’ve ever had to make, but I see no hope for anything positive to emerge from the Independence Party. Our party stands for nothing.”

“The constant scandal and the perpetual infighting have made us a statewide laughingstock and we haven’t achieved a single substantive objective for which it was founded.”

Here’s Morano’s (very lenghty) statement in full:

“It’s with a heavy heart and a deep sense of sadness that I’m resigning from the State Executive Committee and the State Committee of the Independence Party, effective July 20th, 2010. The denial of a Wilson-Pakula authorization for Staten Island Assembly candidate, Nicole Malliotakis is, for me, the straw that broke the camels back in making clear that the Independence Party and its leadership, is not a vehicle for reform, and really stands for nothing.”

“I’ve been involved with the Independence Party my entire political life. I was inspired to join the Independence Party because I believed that our state and our country was in dire need of a vibrant third party alternative to the two party duopoly and that New York state’s dysfunctional government was in serious need of reform. Unfortunately, the leadership of our party has no become just as bad, if not worse than the two major parties.”

“For years, I sat idly by as our party made their number one priority maintaining Republican control of the state senate (anything but independent) so as to make sure the state’s unique system of fusion voting could be preserved- not for any principle mind you, solely so that those in leadership positions could continue to hold on to patronage jobs (anathema to the party’s stated agenda) and get invited to the good parties.”

“For the last ten years, our party has virtually fallen over itself to endorse nearly every incumbent, with no clear agenda whatsoever. In 2008, I remained silent as our party did nothing to stop the New York City Council from overturning the twice stated will of the voters and trampled term limits. ”

“Not only did our party do nothing, but those in the top echelon of our party’s leadership sought to twist arms and offer goodies to certain members in order to get them to vote to repeal term limits. Aside from the fact that this totally and completely ignored a fundamental tenet of our party’s platform, it merely underscored the fact that our party no longer served any function except to cater to the political power broker du jour.”

“In 2009, I watched as the endorsements of local candidates in NYC like Debi Rose, Vincent Gentile, Paul Vallone and scores of others were overturned by the state, at the behest of Mayor Bloomberg’s aides or The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). ”

“For virtually this entire year, I’ve endured almost daily ridicule, derision and scorn for being part of a party that’s under criminal investigation for shady and questionable financial transactions, which the Executive Committee, nor the State Committee ever approved, but for which our party now has to endure the damaged reputation for. I remained silent and did whatever I could to aide the state Chair in anything he requested of me, because I believed that ultimately there was a greater goal….a reform oriented party in this state.”

“Yesterday though, when I was told by the state Chair and his favorite henchman, Tom Connolly (the first Vice-Chair) that because Andrew Cuomo wanted our party to back the incumbent, my level of disgust, frustration and hopelessness became too much to bear.”

“I sought to appeal to the Executive Committee first based on the merits, citing Ms. Malliotakis’s strengths as a candidate, etc. Then, I sought to appeal to the Executive Committee, citing the politics of the situation, mentioning that to give Ms. Malliotakis a Wilson-Pakula would be appropriate because of her willingness and enthusiasm to carry petitions for our state committee candidates, whereas the incumbent did not. ”

“And when that argument fell upon deaf ears, I made one last desperate plea to the committee’s sense of honor, highlighting the fact that the state Chair had given his word not only to me, but to Ms. Malliotakis….apparently though, the word of our state Chair means nothing more than the words in our party platform.”

“This race was the last thing I was holding onto. I thought that if we could help elect a true independent, a genuine reformer, that all of these sacrifices would not have been in vain, but alas the Independence Party has become the Incumbent Dependence Party, a tool for influence peddlers like Tom Connolly to cater to the state’s most powerful leaders.”

“As a matter of conscience, I can no longer remain in the party. This is one of most painful decisions that I’ve ever had to make, but I see no hope for anything positive to emerge from the Independence Party. Our party stands for nothing.”

“The constant scandal and the perpetual infighting have made us a statewide laughingstock and we haven’t achieved a single substantive objective for which it was founded. In one sense, I feel sorry for the hundreds of thousands of Independents that joined the party because they too wanted reform, not to preserve the status quo. ”

“On the other hand though, I feel liberated. I can now support reform minded candidates of all political stripes and have the freedom to work for issues of importance for this state, without worrying about how the state leadership will feel about it. I’ll never forget the relationships I’ve forged through the Independence Party and I’ll never regret the countless hours I’ve spent toiling away for what I believed was right.”

“I do regret though that are party was corrupted and spoiled, while still in its embryonic stage, never getting the opportunity to mature to it’s full potential.

Frank Morano