Jackson Councilmen Cleared Of Ethics Charges Over Appointment

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.

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Posted: September 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Department of Community Affairs, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth Democrats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Jackson Councilmen Cleared Of Ethics Charges Over Appointment

Leading NJ Legal Scholar: Golden has no conflict serving as Chairman and Sheriff

Bennett dismisses the opinion, says the Local Finance Board should decide

By Art Gallagher

Scrivo Tom 11_pp smAt his breakfast meet and greet gatherings in Freehold and Neptune, Sheriff Shaun Golden said the he had consulted “large law firms, much bigger than any firm here in Monmouth County,” about the “fabricated conflict” of a Sheriff serving as a County Party Chairman raised by Chairman John Bennett and Municipal Chairs Steve McEnery of Manalapan and Anthony Graziano of Freehold Township.

Golden said, “there is no conflict.” He said in Freehold he would show the letter to anyone who wanted to see it. In Neptune he said he would “publish it if need be.”

I told Shaun I wanted to see the letter and that I wanted to publish it.  Here it is.

In the seven page letter that reviews the Ethics Law, Common Law and court cases from 1935 through 2009, Thomas P. ScrivoManaging Partner of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney and Carpenter, concludes:

Scrivo conclusion

Scrivo is the author of New Jersey Government Deskbookthe plain language handbook published by New Jersey Law Journal that is updated annually in cooperation with the New Jersey League of Municipalities.   The book is a guide for Freeholders, Mayors, Council Members, Municipal Attorneys, etc, on numerous Local Government issues including Ethics.  Additionally, he has been published in New Jersey Law Journal on matters of ethics and conflicts of interests.

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Posted: June 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: John Bennett, Monmouth County Republican Committee, Monmouth GOP, Shaun Golden | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Leading NJ Legal Scholar: Golden has no conflict serving as Chairman and Sheriff

Lucas Farm Purchase Stalled in Manalapan

Manalapan Township Committeeman Andrew Lucas’ $1.152 million sale of the development rights to a farm in owns in the Township was not approved by his colleagues on the committee this evening.  The motion to approve the Township’s $187,000 contribution to the the purchased failed on a 2-2 vote.

Committeeman Ryan Green first moved to table the purchase due to incomplete documentation.  Committeeman Jordan Maskowitz voted with Green to table the purchase.   Mayor Susan Cohen and Committeeman Donald Holland voted against tabling.   Cohen and Holland then voted to approve the purchase. Green and Maskowitz voted no.  Lucas the fifth member of the committee recused himself from voting on the purchase of his own property.

Green told MMM that Lucas left the dais when the matter came up and left the building.  Lucas did not return for the remainder of the Township Committee meeting.

Green said he has not decided how he would vote when and if the documentation for the sale is completed.

Monmouth County’s portion of the purchase is on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders.  The Freeholders will not proceed without Manalapan’s portion of the purchase being approved, according to Freeholder Director Tom Arnone.

Lucas, Manalapan’s former mayor and a former GOP candidate for freeholder, purchased the farm which had been slated for development in March of 2010 for an undisclosed amount. Soon thereafter he started the process of selling the development rights, for $1.152 million, through funding through the State, County and Township. Lucas participated on Township Committee discussions of his application.

The purchase approved by the Freeholder Board in May of 2011 was held up by an ethics complaint filed by former Manalapan Mayor George Spodak.  The State Agriculture Development Committee conditioned its funding on an satisfactory ethics review of the transaction.  Local Finance Board Chairman Thomas Neff wrote Lucas in September of last year to inform him that his application had been approved because he consulted with the Manalapan Township Attorney about his application.  Neff’s letter also said that the Board would use Lucas’s case to provide clear guidance to future office holders to recuse themselves from applications that they have an interest in.

Arnone and Freeholder John Curley have announced that they oppose the purchase of the Lucas farm.  Freeholder Lillian Burry supports the purchase. Deputy Director Serena DiMaso and Freeholder Gary Rich have not announced how they would vote on the purchase should it make it out of Manalapan.

Posted: February 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Manalapan, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Curley: There will be no $1.2 million paid for Andrew Lucas’ property

Freeholder Director John Curley said yesterday that there is no support on the Freeholder Board to purchase the development rights for Manalapan Township Committeeman Andrew Lucas’ 98 acre farm on Iron Ore Road, despite the fact that the purchase, which was approved by the Board in May of 2011,  has been cleared of an ethics violation complaint by the State Department of Community Affairs’ Local Finance Board and was approved by the State Agriculture Development Committee.

“If elected officials want to apply for government money for their properties, they should resign from office,” said Curley, “we should not be using the positions the voters entrusted us with to enrich ourselves.”

“Andrew Lucas has not been forthcoming about the details of his purchase of this property.  The freeholders will not approve this purchase.”

Lucas, Manalapan’s former mayor and a former GOP candidate for freeholder, purchased the farm which had been slated for development in March of 2010 for an undisclosed amount. Soon thereafter he started the process of selling the development rights, for $1.152 million, through funding through the State, County and Township. Lucas participated on Township Committee discussions of his application.

The purchase approved by the Freeholder Board in May of 2011 was held up by an ethics complaint filed by former Manalapan Mayor George Spodak.  The State Agriculture Developement Committee conditioned its funding on an satisfactory ethics review of the transaction.  Local Finance Board Chairman Thomas Neff wrote Lucas last month to inform him that his application had been approved because he consulted with the Manalapan Township Attorney about his application.  Neff’s letter also said that the Board would use Lucas’s case to provide clear guidance to future office holders to recuse themselves from applications that they have an interest in.

Spodak is outraged that Neff and the Local Finance Board cleared the ethics of the transaction.  “I don’t think they even read my 111 page complaint,” said Spodak.  “I sent Neff a letter appealing his decision but have not heard back from him.”

The county monies approved in 2011 for the purchase are no longer available.  An article in the Asbury Park Press said that the county is applying for federal money to fund the purchase.

Curly said the the freeholders have not approved any federal grant application and will not approve the purchase.

Earlier yesterday, Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal issued a statement condemning the transaction as an example of Republcian cronyism, “Club Monmouth.”  Gopal was critical of Neff’s ties to the Monmouth GOP as evidenced by his $750 to Monmouth GOP Chairman John Bennett’s leadership PAC while Bennett was President of the State Senate. Prior being appointed to his position with the Department of Community Affairs, Neff, an attorney, was an employee of the Republican Senate Caucus.

Informed of Curley’s opposition to the Lucas farm purchase and his representation that the other freeholders, all Republicans, also oppose it, Gopal said, “What has changed since they approved it last year?  Only Amy Mallet (then a Democratic freeholder) voted against it in 2011.”

Posted: October 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: John Curley, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth Democrats, Monmouth GOP, Vin Gopal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »