Manalapan and Freehold Township GOP Chairs Raise Ethical Questions About Golden Serving As Sheriff and GOP County Chairman Simultaniously
Golden welcomes Ethics Debate with Bennett
The municipal Republican Chairmen of Manalapan and Freehold have raise ethical questions about the prospect of Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden serving as both Sheriff an d as the Chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Organization.
In a letter addressed to County Committee Members and sent to MMM, Steve McEnery, Chair of the Manalapan GOP and Anthony Graziano, Chair of the Freehold Township Republicans, raise questions about Golden’s ability to comply with New Jersey’s Local Governments Ethics Law, NJ 40A:9-22.5, unless he has received an advisory opinion from the Local Finance Board in the Department of Community Affairs. The letter can be viewed here.
The chairmen challenged Golden to release the advisory opinion demonstrating the permissibility of him serving in both offices or explain to County Committee Members why he did not engage in simple due diligence if he did not receive such an opinion.
The chairmen asserted that Golden could find himself in the following ethical binds, which they say are by no means exhaustive:
He will be engaging in activity that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of
his duties in the public interest as Sheriff. As Sheriff, he will be working for the very
same people who need his political support, endorsement, and funding, should he be
elected County Chair.
He may, when he goes before the Board of Chosen Freeholders, appear to use or attempt
to use his official position as County Chair to secure unwarranted privileges or
advantages for himself or others.
In dealing with the Board of Chosen Freeholders, he will be acting in his official capacity
in instances where he has a direct or indirect personal involvement that might reasonably
be expected to impair his judgment in the exercise of his official duties.
As County Chair, his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties as
Sheriff could reasonably be expected to be prejudiced.
If there is a ballot or election issue, Sheriff Golden will not be able to intervene as
Chairman without running afoul of the ethics law’s prohibition on a person representing
any person or party other than the local government with any cause or proceeding.
When or if Sheriff Golden runs for Sheriff again, he will be the very person funding his
campaign with Republican Party money.
Finally, there is a prohibition on local government officers or employees soliciting any
gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, promise of future employment, or other thing of
value given or offered based on an understanding that the thing offered was for the purpose of
influencing him, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his official duties.
Graziano and McEnery said that that two County Sheriffs have previously served and County Party Chairmen “with disastrous results.” Both were indicted and one is currently in prison.
This very situation has occurred before, with disastrous results. Twice in the past,
County Sheriffs have also served as County Committee Chairmen. Both were indicted, and one
is currently in jail. The danger of wearing these two hats is clear. Accordingly, until Sheriff
Golden produces at minimum, an advisory opinion from the State, we have little confidence that
if elected, Sheriff Golden will be permitted to serve out his term as Chairman. As previously
stated, even if he does have an opinion, we expect that his actions, and those of the Freeholders,
will be continuously scrutinized and challenged.
Golden was nonplussed by news of the letter, which he asserted was orchestrated by his opponent, current Chairman John O. Bennett.