In a move reminiscent of Congressman Rick Lazio’s aggression towards First Lady Hillary Clinton in the 2000 U.S. Senate debate in New York, Lawrence Luttrell, a Democratic candidate for Monmouth County Freeholder jumped from his seat and lunged towards Freeholder Director Lillian Burry Wednesday night at a candidates debate at the Four Seasons Club House in Manalapan.
Deputy Freeholder Director Gary Rich and Giuseppe “Joe” Grillo, Luttrell’s running mate, braced themselves to protect Burry as it appeared that Luttrell would leap over them to get to Burry. Rich and Grillo were seated between Burry and Luttrell. Luttrell pulled back before going airborne and turned to the debate moderator and shouted, “This is not what I came here for. If this is going to be a kangaroo court where we don’t follow the rules, I’m leaving right now.” Luttrell was living up to the name of the paper organization he created with his wife and mother-in-law to sue Monmouth County last year; R.A.G.E.
What apparently set Luttrell off was Burry asking him, “Is your name Pinocchio?”
On a rebuttal question to Luttrell’s comments alleging that Burry had a conflict of interest in the farmland preservation deal with former Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas, Burry said, “Let me read from Judge Lawson’s opinion. Are you familiar with it?” Luttrell then grabbed a microphone and cut Burry off saying, “I’m very familiar with it.” “Let me finish,” Burry said. “You asked a question, I’m answering it, those are the rules,” Luttrell the litigator said as he went on to lie to the assembled crowd of about 150 voters by saying that he lost the case because he was too late in filing his lawsuit to block the preservation of the Lucas farm. The moderator bent the prescribed rules of the debate to let Burry continue reading Lawson’s opinion when she followed the format with the question, “Is your name Pinocchio.”
As Luttrell threatened to leave the debate, the event chairman stepped in and reinstated the rules that the moderator had waived for Burry when she was cut off by Luttrell. Luttrell sat down and the debate continued. The moderator promised Burry she would have a chance to answer later in the evening. That never happened.
In his closing remarks, Luttrell noted that he had been to the Four Season debate last year as a losing candidate for freeholder. He apologized to the audience for his outburst and explained that he was under a lot of pressure. He did not apologize to Burry.
Lawson’s opinion ruling that Burry did not have a conflict of interest in the Lucas farm preservation can be found here.