The Local Finance Board, the entity within the Department of Community Affairs which oversees the ethics of local officials, has ruled that two Jackson Township councilmen did not violate State Ethics or Campaign Finance Laws when they voted to appoint their former campaign manger a job on the Jackson Municipal Utilities Authority, according to a report on Shore News Network.
Cara Glory was the 2012 campaign manager for Councilmen Barry Calogero and Robert Nixon. On January 6, 2014 Calogero, Nixon join the rest of the Jackson governing body in unanimously voting to approve Glory’s appointment to the MUA. Unidentified Jackson residents filed ethics charges with the Local Fiance Board.
The charges were deemed frivolous by Board Chairmen Thomas Neff, according to the Shore News Network report.
“Following preliminary investigation and evaluation of the facts and circumstances relevant to the complaints and upon consideration of the foregoing provisions of Local Government Ethics Law, the Local Finance Board voted to dismiss the complaints as having no reasonable factual basis.”
The state reiterated their stance, adding, “The relationship between an elected officeholder and a campaign deputy treasurer or campaign manager is simply not one, in and of itself, which poses a conflict.”
The charges against the councilmen were dismissed and Glory’s appointment remained as-is.
The issue is of significance in Monmouth County as Democratic freeholder candidates Larry Luttrell and Joe Grillo attempt to portray themselves and paragons of virtue in the campaign against Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich.
During his campaign for freeholder last year, Luttrell, his wife and mother-in-law formed R.A.G.E (Residents Against Government Exploitation) for the purpose of suing Monmouth
County over Burry’s votes to approve the farmland preservation acquisition of Burke Farm’s development rights. Former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas is the owner of Burke Farm. Luttrell alleged that Burry had a conflict of interest in her vote because Lucas hosted a fundraisers for her and other Republican candidates at the farm in 2011.
Judge Lawrence A. Lawson dismissed Luttrell’s suit with prejudice on a summary judgement motion. Lawson noted that the fundraiser occurred five months after Burry’s initial vote to approve the acquisition. Lawson’s ruling was made in January of this year.
In February, Lucas was indicted on fraud charges for alleged false disclosures in his financing applications for his purchase of Burke Farm. The sale of the development rights was approved by Neff, and the State Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Attorney’s investigation into Lucas resulted in no charges related to the farmland preservation transaction and no charges against anyone other than Lucas.
Yet, Luttrell and Grillo have dubbed the farmland preservation transaction a “scandal.”
Last week, Luttrell and Grillo invented a new “scandal” that is very similar to the Jackson “scandal” that the Local Finance Board ruled frivolous. Instead of going to court or they Local Finance Board where they know they would be dismissed, Luttrell and Grillo took their twisted smears to the media via a press release. Unfortunately, the
Asbury Park Press Neptune Nudniks, desperate for circulation and web traffic, took the bait.
Luttrell and Grillo accused the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders of appointing Burry’s 2011 campaign treasurer, Bill Bucco, to a sensitive position combating the heroin epidemic. But Bucco’s job is one of an administrator who deals with other government agencies, not a law enforcement or a drug counseling position. Bucco has saved the Monmouth County taxpayers $200,000 due to his administrative expertise. Yet Luttrell and Grillo would have you think his appointment was analogous to former Governor McGreavey appointing his boyfriend to be in charge of homeland security.