Where is John Curley getting $300,000 to $500,000 to pursue his ridiculous lawsuit?
Disgraced Freeholder John P. Curley’s attorneys, Genova Burns, submitted an invoice for $30,483.92 for their work on Curley’s contempt motion only yesterday in federal court. Curley sued Monmouth County taxpayers, his fellow freeholders, County Administrator Teri O’Connor and County Counsel Michael Fitzgerald late last year in an effort to keep an investigative report into his alleged conduct of employee harassment, sexual and otherwise, from becoming public.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti dismissed Curley’s 12 count suit (not covered in the $30,483.92 invoice), but held the freeholders in contempt for revealing parts of the report in their Censure and Reprimand Resolution of Curley in December. Judge Martinotti ruled the County must pay Curley’s legal fees associated with the contempt motion. The County has appealed the contempt ruling, arguing that the information in the Censure and Reprimand did not come from the investigative report prepared by retired Acting Supreme Court Justice Mary Catherine Cuff.
Curley’s attorneys billed 82.40 hours on the contempt motion, according to the invoice. Angelo Genova billed for 10.30 hours at $850 per hour; Nicholas Amato, three hours at $550 per hour; Lawrence Bluestone 23.80 hours at $375 per hour and Allison Benz 45.30 hours at $225. Total fees are $29,522.50 and there are expenses of $961.42.
So far, Monmouth County taxpayers have spent over $300,000 in fees to defend against Curley’s suit. That meter will continue to tick, as Curley refiled his suit yesterday…he has to keep the Cuff report sealed to maintained his delusion that he can be reelected in November. It’s a reasonable estimate that attorneys on both side of this case will earn a million dollars, give or take, by the time this nonsense is over.
Being a lawyer like Genova is a better gig than being a weatherman. Judge Martinotti, an appointee of President Obama and former Democrat politician in Bergen County, ruled against Genova’s arguments on behalf of Curley and dismissed the suit. But he gave Genova, Obama’s former attorney, 25 days to refile the suit and start the billing meter all over again, while ensuring that Judge Cuff’s report into Curley disgraceful conduct remains under seal.
Where is John Curley getting $300,000 to $500,000 to pursue this ridiculous lawsuit?
Curley is not a wealthy man. According to his 2018 financial disclosure on file with the Division of Community Affairs, his only income is his $27,000 freeholder salary and whatever his brother’s car dealership, Jim Curley Buick GMC, is paying him. The dealership does not list the disgraced freeholder in it’s employee directory. He disclosed that he owns a home in Middletown, which according to County records, is valued at $210,700 and is free of a mortgage lien.
So how is Curley footing his legal bills against Monmouth County taxpayers? Even if he mortgaged his house to pay his bills, he wouldn’t have enough to pay Genova Burns.
Maybe Genova Burns is paying their partners, associates and paralegals out of pocket in the hopes that they win and Monmouth County taxpayers will be ordered to pay their bill. Maybe Curley’s brother Jim, or the car dealership is footing the bill. Maybe Curley passed the hat at the Pour House. Either way, the fees and contributions, real or in-kind, should be subject to the disclosure and limits of New Jersey’s campaign finance laws.
Curley has often argued publicly that his Censure and Reprimand, as well as his losing the support of the Monmouth County Republican Committee, is political retribution for his being a maverick. It doesn’t matter to John that he doesn’t really have a maverick record, overall. By his own logic, Curley’s lawsuit is a political counterattack. His legal fees should be disclosed on his campaign finance reports with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. Donations toward his legal fees should be subject to the NJ ELEC statutory limit of $2600 per donor.
It would have taken at least two donors to fund Genova’s work on April 30, 2018. He billed Curley $3,825 for 4.50 hours work preparing for oral argument on the contempt motion, attendance at the oral argument and for talking to Curley when the argument was completed.
Curley has already reported his transportation expense to federal Court as a campaign expense. He can’t honestly argue that his legal fees are not campaign expenses and that the donations to cover them are not reportable contributions.
Curley, a former Democrat and a former Republican, is now running as an Independent for Freeholder. Both the Monmouth Democrats and Monmouth Republicans should file complaints with NJ ELEC for Curley’s obvious violations.