>Today’s editorial in the Asbury Park Press hits the nail on the head. Why on earth would Lillian Burry, Rob Clifton, John Curley or the other guy, ever consent to bringing back Malcom Carton for any type of legal services after he was dismissed from his duties last year?
Democrat Amy Mallet was the only member of the five-member Monmouth Couny freeholder board who had the good sense to vote against appointing Malcolm Carton — longtime county counsel — to handle the legal work for bail forfeitures for the county.
Mallet said she voted “no” because the resolution appointing Carton “lacked transparency.” Specifically, it said the law firm for which Carton works would provide the special counsel services. No mention was made of Carton. To find that out, the freeholders would have had to read the proposal from the law firm stating Carton would be assigned the work.
But there were much better reasons than that for steering clear of Carton, who was replaced as county counsel in 2009, then appointed as a special counsel in 2010, purportedly to allow him to complete unfinished cases and ease the transition for the new county counsel. All ties with Carton should have been severed then — permanently.
In case the current freeholders forgot, Carton was the last vestige of the good ol’ boy, all-Republican freeholder board that governed the county when corruption ran rampant. In early 2005, a federal corruption sting centered in Monmouth County netted the late Harry Larrison, then-director of the freeholders, and seven other county officials.
As county counsel, the legal fees Carton billed the county were nearly four times higher than what many other counties paid their chief counsel. In 2005, a Press comparison of county counsel fees showed Carton had billed about $400,000 a year since 1997. In 2005, the state’s most populous county — Essex — paid its chief counsel $105,000. Mercer and Bergen counties paid their top counsels about $108,000.
Carton raised tens of thousands of campaign dollars for county Republicans, and his strong party ties posed unhealthy conflicts of interest.
Given Carton’s history, it’s hard to believe that even the four Republican freeholders currently on the board wouldn’t want to turn the page on someone so strongly associated with one of the darkest chapters in the county’s political history.