Category Archives: ethical violations

"Political Retaliation" In Play Against Middletown Library Board President

Middletown’s acting Mayor Tony Fiore has asked the President of the Middletown Library Board to resign his position as Board President according to an article posted on Middletown-Patch this morning.

According to Middletown-Patch, a letter was sent to Library Board President Randal Gabrielan last Wednesday requesting his resignation for questionable inappropriate and unethical behavior pertaining to books purchased by the Middletown Library that were penned by Gabrielan.

Randal Gabrielan is the Monmouth County historian and writes books about the history of Monmouth County and its towns. The books are available at many book sellers throughout NJ.

Where the supposed ethical violations come into play in this case is that as Library Board President, Randal Gabrielan signs all the purchase vouchers for the library, including the vouchers that pertain to the books that he has written.

To Fiore and Co., this is a major issue that requires Gabrielan to step down from his position, even though this has been going on for years with the knowledge and approval of the Township and the fact that the library would have purchased the books for its collection anyway.
Randal Gabrielan states in the article that this is “political retribution” for his vocal stance opposing the Township’s money grab of nearly $500,000 last year and for the failure of one of the Township Committee’s hand picked, newly appointed Library Board of Trustees members not being able to dethrone him as Board President at the Library’s January 18th Board meeting, which was the first board meeting after the Middletown Township Committee expanded the membership of the board from 7 members to 9 members to gain greater control over the library’s finances.
“This request for resignation is an act of political retaliation prompted by my opposition in 2011 to the Township Committee’s demand that the library turn over surplus funds (which did not come from municipal appropriations) to the township and the failure of the mayor’s new expanded library board of trustees to elect one of their number, none of whom has any library board experience, to the presidency of the board at the January 18th library board meeting,” According to Gabrielan’s statement posted on Middletown-Patch.
I think that before looking at Mr. Gabrielan, Tony Fiore should be looking closer to home for ethical lapses and request a certain Planning Board member to step down…..

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Filed under Board of Trustees, ethical violations, Middletown Library, Middletown Patch, Middletown Township Committee, Randall Gabrielan, resignation request, Tony Fiore

>Justice Thomas Omitted His Tea Partying Wife’s Income From Financial Disclosure Forms

>On Thursday of this past week, I posted a story about how US Supreme Court Justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, participated in political strategy sessions with the group Citizens United. Afterward they voted in favor of overturning a century’s worth of campaign finance laws which benefited Citizens United. Their (Scalia and Thomas) actions in this case were wrong, clearly unethical and a blatant example of judicial activism which should cause the US Attorney General to look into appointing a special prosecutor.

Now comes word from the website that Justice Clarence Thomas hasn’t disclosed his wife’s income for the past six year. During which time she has earned over $680,000 from the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing, conservative think tank with ties to the Tea Party movement.

ThinkProgress writes:

“Federal judges and justices are required by law to disclose their spouse’s income — thus preventing persons who wish to influence the judge or justice from funneling money to them through their husband or wife. Yet, as the Los Angeles Times reports, Justice Clarence Thomas has not complied with this requirement for years…”

“This revelation that Justice Thomas failed to comply with his disclosure obligations comes as he is caught up in another ethics scandal regarding his participation in fundraisers for far-right political groups. Thomas once attended a gathering of wealthy corporate activists convened by billionaire Charles Koch to raise money for right-wing political causes, and he also attended at least one fundraiser hosted by the far-right think tank that used to employ his wife….”

I don’t know if there is any past precedent that would allow a sitting US Supreme Court Justice to be removed from the bench for conduct unbecoming of a Justice, but do know that there has been lower court judges and justices that have been removed from their benches for similar or lesser offenses.
If these allegations turn out to be true, than I think impeachment and removal from the court is appropriate punishment for Justice Thomas.

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Filed under Citizens United, ethical violations, financial disclosure, Heritage Foundation, Justice Clarence Thomas, Tea Party, Think Progress

>Latest Rumor From The School Yard; Has A Current Member Of The Middletown Board Of Education Been Order Removed From Board?

>Seeing how the last rumor from the school yard turned out to be true (the one about Middletown School Superintendent Karen Bilbao resigning), I think I should pass a long the latest rumor that I have recently heard.

It is one that I am a little leery to pass along at the moment because I haven’t been able to confirm it, all of those that I have contacted have denied knowledge of it, but due to the circumstances of the rumor, I don’t find it unusual that people are denying having any knowledge of it.

It is because of the sensitivity of this information that I need to be very careful about what I post and will not at this time, name those involved or what the particular circumstances are that surround those that are involved. I will only say that I trust the source that “leaked” the information to me, the source is extremely credible and I have no reason to doubt the source’s integrity. In time, when the information is made public knowledge everyone will know the details.

So what have I heard that needs to remain such a mystery and that is so sensitive that I can’t give many details at this moment? Well it happens to involve a sitting member of the Middletown Board of Education.

I have been told that earlier this year, a member of the BOE, had an ethics complaint filed against them with the NJ School Ethics Commission and from what I understand it is serious. So serious in fact, that the ethics commissioner on November 15th, ordered the removal of the of the board member from the Middletown Board of Eduction.

It is my understanding that the Middletown school board has 30 days from the time the decision was handed down to act upon it, which means that by the time of the next school board meeting Wednesday night December 15th, an announcement may be made. As of this moment however, no announcement has been made about this on either the NJ School Ethics Commission website or the NJ State Department of Education’s website, so the announcement may not be made until sometime in January.

Until the information about this school board member is posted on either website, spokespeople from each agency have said that they can not answer any of my questions relating to this issue. Neither agency would even comment as to whether or not this board of ed member even had a pending case or an ethics complaint filed against them.

So if this rumor is true, everyone will have to wait until later this month or sometime in early January to find out who may need to be removed from the Middletown Board of Education.


Filed under ethical violations, Middletown Board of Education, NJ School Ethics Commission, NJ State Department Of Education

Hear What All The Fuss Is About: Ethics Complaint Against Freeholder Candidate Smells As Bad As The Sewage It’s Based On!

Shortly after the Asubury Park Press came out with it’s endorsement of Middldetown Committeeman Sean Byrnes for the position of Monmouth County Freeholder, the dirt and mud that is typical of the Middletown GOP started to fly. Party loyalist Tom Stokes, who owes much of his existence to the Middeltown GOP (he collects a salary, health and pension benefits from the township), came out of the woodwork once again this year to smear his vile mud.

Stokes announced to the world,which you can read about here, that he had filed an ethics complaint against Sean Byrnes over comments he made during Byrnes’s first ever Township Committee meeting 22 months ago. The meeting was the annual Township Re-Organizational Meeting held on 1/06/08. Stokes’s complaint is flimsily based on comments that Byrnes made in opposition to re-appointing all current members to the Middletown Sewage Authority, which Stokes happens to be a member of.

According to the Township’s official minutes of the meeting (p 18), Byrnes comment towards Stokes is non-existent. The minutes simply state that Byrnes said “… it is prudent for those for that are in politics not to receive money from the township.”
Stokes is an active member of the Middletown GOP and sits on various boards and commissions in town.
If you think that the meeting minutes are somehow lacking in detail and that Sean Byrnes must have said something more outlandish then this in order for Mr. Stokes to file an ethics complaint then HERE is an audio file of the whole proceeding of the day. You will hear for yourselves at about 58 minutes into the recording, what was exactly said that day, as it does or doesn’t pertain to Tom Stokes.
From all that I have learned about Tom Stokes, it seems that he is not such a nice guy. It seems to me that he likes to file frivolous charges against those he or the Middletown GOP dislike.
In this case, Stokes filed an ethics complaint against Sean Byrnes because didn’t recuse himself from voting on his re-appointment because as he states, Byrnes has been, “in an adversarial relationship with myself, through litigation, since at least 2001. Yet, even though he had this business and personal, adversarial relationship, he failed to recuse himself when my appointment to the Township of Middletown Sewer Authority was discussed.”

From what I understand this litigation is a result from a sexual harassment complaint brought against Stokes when he was a member of the Middletown Board of Education, where he actually called the person who filed the charge against him a “stupid little bitch” although he later said it was “stupid little tramp” at a public meeting.
People in Middletown are tired of these types of dirty attacks and campaigning that the Middeltown GOP engages in just to hold onto power. Now they have tried to use these same tactics on the county level in order to try and gain a last minute advantage for John Curley against Sean Byrnes.
People in Middletown want results, not talk from their elected officials and for to long now all they have gotten out of the Middletown GOP is cheap talk and dirty politics and it all smells as bad as the sewage that that needs to be treated before being disposed of.
Informed voters will decide for themselves whether or not this latest sleazy maneuver by the Middeltown republicans warrant further consideration.
Vote Bynres for Freeholder !!

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, ethical violations, Middletown NJ, Middletown Sewerage Authority, Sean F. Byrnes

AP: GOP NJ governor candidate’s spending questioned


TRENTON, N.J. — The Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, who has campaigned on a platform of ethical integrity and cutting government waste, regularly spent beyond federal guidelines on business travel while U.S. attorney, records show.
The newly released travel records show that Chris Christie occasionally billed taxpayers more than $400 a night for stays in luxury hotels and exceeded the government’s hotel allowance on 14 of 16 business trips he took in 2008.

“Generally, U.S. attorneys, assistant U.S. attorneys and all federal staff stay within the government rate,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz. “The government rate is not a suggestion, it’s a guideline.”

Christie said he stayed in more expensive hotels only when cheaper ones weren’t available.

“We always went for government rates first,” he said. “I don’t think there were a lot of stays in five-star hotels over seven years.”

The travel records date to when he was sworn in as U.S. attorney in 2002. They were obtained this week by the campaign of Christie’s Democratic opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine, under the Freedom of Information Act.

The AP has sought the same records, but the request was made later than the one by the governor’s office and hasn’t been fulfilled.

The limits are updated regularly to reflect inflation, seasonal price jumps and other economic realities of business travel, Schwartz said. Federal employees who exceed the allowance are required to explain why, though the justification merely requires an extra layer of approval that is routinely granted.

On trips in 2007 and 2008, his top deputy, Michele Brown, also exceeded the guidelines after Christie approved her requests for rooms in the same five-star hotels where he was booked.

The vouchers show Christie and Brown stayed at the NineZero Hotel in Boston on Oct. 16, 2007 and each billed taxpayers $449 plus taxes and fees for their rooms, more than double the government allowance for a Boston hotel room at the time, according to a General Services Administration travel reimbursement table.

A liberal ethics group called Christie’s travel history “astonishing,” noting a stay at the Four Seasons in Washington, one of the city’s best hotels.

“I’m sure he knew better, and he chose to ignore the rules,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “There is never a situation where the only available hotel in Washington is the Four Seasons. If you stay there, you’ve chosen luxury and you’ve chosen to ignore the rules.”

The ethics group has also filed a complaint alleging that Christie violated federal law by discussing a possible run for governor while he was U.S. attorney, but federal officials declined to investigate because Christie is no longer a federal employee.

The former federal prosecutor submitted a waiver for the room in Boston, as required. In it, he requested additional lodging expenses because there were no rooms available at the $203 per night government rate “due to a high demand for rooms.”
Christie made a mortgage loan to Brown five days after they returned from Boston, on Oct. 22, 2007. He failed to report the loan on federal ethics forms and on his 2007 federal income tax returns, omissions he later described as a mistake. Brown has since resigned and joined a private law firm.

Christie is locked in a tight race against Corzine, an unpopular governor bidding for a second term, and independent Chris Daggett. Christie has campaigned on his record of putting corrupt politicians in jail.

Records turned over so far show Christie exceeded the government lodging allowance on 23 of 30 business trips taken between 2004 and 2008. In some cases, his travel vouchers were approved first by Brown, then certified by a third person. Christie, who was Brown’s supervisor, signed off on her travel, either in advance or when she submitted vouchers, the records show. The vouchers were all certified by a third party.

Christie’s hotel tab exceeded $400 per night on four trips. A night at the Four Seasons in Washington in October 2008 cost taxpayers $475; five nights in London were $401 each for Christie and Brown, the records show.

The federal government policy manual states that employees “must exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on a personal basis.” The guideline says the agency will not pay for “luxury accommodations” or unjustified services.

Democrats were quick to condemn the travel expenses.

“It is outrageous that Mr. Christie made taxpayers foot the bill for his excessive and luxurious travel accommodations around the United States and to foreign countries, while his only job responsibilities were in New Jersey,” said Corzine campaign spokesman Sean Darcy.

Corzine, a wealthy former Wall Street CEO, does not take a salary for being governor and pays for all his own travel, Darcy said.

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Filed under Associated Press, Chris Christie, ethical violations, ethics, Gov. Jon Corzine, New Jersey

Public Perception

There is a thin vale that separates reality from perception, very often ones own perception of events supersedes the reality of what actually has taken place. The Corzine campaign knows this and is using it to there advantage over Republican opponent Chris Christie.

The recent news about Christie speaking to Karl Rove about a potential run for the New Jersey governorship on top of the failure to disclose the loan of $46,000 to his assitant federal prosecutor, Michele Brown, while heading the US Attorneys office has left Christie open to attacks rightfully on his character and motivations.

The follwing opinion from piece from the Burlington County Times lays out Christie’s problem exactly:

Burlington County Times

Throughout his campaign for New Jersey governor, Republican candidate Chris Christie has represented himself as an ethics reformer who will “stop corruption in its tracks.”

Now that he has been forced to address questions about a $46,000 loan he made to an assistant when he was U.S. attorney, and that he failed to report it on his income tax and financial disclosure forms, he may want to change his approach.

Christie has said that it was all a mistake and that he plans to file all the amended paperwork.

OK, we’re willing to believe that.

But what really bothers us is the admission that Christie spoke with Karl Rove, adviser to former President George W. Bush, during his time as U.S. attorney. Rove has said that they discussed Christie’s interest in running for the state’s highest office. That means that Christie may have been actively pursuing the governorship while serving as a federal prosecutor. And that’s a violation of the Hatch Act, a law that restricts employees of the executive branch of the federal government, as well as state and federal employees, from any political activity.

Rove was well-known for blurring the lines between politics and the Justice Department and allegedly rated U.S. attorneys based on their loyalty. It also has been reported that he threatened to fire prosecutors who refused to pursue certain politically motivated cases.

In the middle of the 2006 election, Christie subpoenaed U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. The investigation never led to any charges. Democrats claimed at the time that the probe was politically motivated and now cite Christie’s conversation with Rove as proof.

Christie’s record of winning convictions against a large number of corrupt public officials struck a chord with Garden State voters sick and tired of political corruption in the state.

Now, the fact that the majority of those officials prosecuted by Christie during his tenure were Democrats seems less of a coincidence, and it’s easier to believe the link between Christie and former President Bush being made by Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s campaign.

If voters believe they’ll have to second-guess any and all of Christie’s work as a federal prosecutor, as well as the motivation behind it, what may have been a benign conversation could end up costing him the election.

It would not be the first time a candidate has been done in by public perception.

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Filed under Burlington County Times, Chris Christie, ethical violations, Gov. Jon Corzine, Hatch Act, Karl Rove, Michele A. Brown, US Attorneys Office

Christie’s loan error tarnishes his armor

Here is another good article, published today by Charles Stile of detailing Chris Christie’s recent ethical mishaps. It’s worth the read!

Two weeks ago, Christopher J. Christie promised to convert the closed caucus room of Trenton into a temple of transparency.

The public deserves a more detailed, warts-and-all accounting of a public official’s personal income and interests, he said. Current disclosure rules are a “joke” that provide only a superficial summary.

“If you look at the one that I had to fill out as a federal official, it will give you a headache,” Christie said, referring to his tenure as U.S. attorney for New Jersey. “I would rather give public officials a headache … than to continue to use an ill-advised, narrow form that does not give you the information you need to judge whether or not a public official is acting in his or her own interest or in the public interest.”

Christie is now the one with a throbbing headache for failing to practice what he preaches.

The Republican nominee for governor was on the defensive this week following revelations that he omitted a $46,000 loan to a former subordinate, Michele Brown, on his tax returns and federal and state disclosure forms.

Swamped by questions about the legal and ethical consequences about the loan, Christie, the fiery ethics crusader, was suddenly the contrite candidate dispensing damage control. He vowed to amend those returns to reflect the 2007 loan.

“It was an oversight,” said Christie. “My mistake.”

Let’s put aside, for now, the glaring conflict of interest of possibly having Brown, the first assistant U.S. attorney in Newark, repaying the governor a loan at 5.5 percent interest. And we need not dwell too much on the Corzine-esque nature of the loan — sorting the differences and similarities between Corzine’s $470,000 loan to ex-girlfriend and union leader Carla Katz and the Christie-Brown loan doesn’t offer much insight into Christie’s decision.

What I find most puzzling is that Christie’s “oversight” is at odds with his experience as a corruption fighter. He should have known better.

Perhaps more than any other federal prosecutor who preceded him, Christie demonstrated how New Jersey’s toothless disclosure laws foster corruption. It was a common theme in his indictments and convictions.

Former Paramus Democratic state Sen. Joseph Coniglio was convicted in June on charges that he was hired by Hackensack University Medical Center as a $5,000-a-month lobbyist and concealing his interest in a consulting company. State disclosure laws did not require him to disclose that he was working for the hospital.

It was Christie who prosecuted former state Sen. John Lynch, the longtime Middlesex County Democratic power broker for secretly taking tens of thousands of dollars from a contractor while lobbying to help him develop state parkland.

Dennis Oury, a Bergen County Democratic Party lawyer, was charged last year with failing to properly disclose his interest in a grant-writing firm that was receiving public funds. Oury is awaiting trial this fall.

If Christie was truly concerned about the pernicious dangers of poor disclosure, he should have set an example by reporting the loan two years ago instead of explaining himself amid a political firestorm.

“I never thought of it as an asset,” Christie said of the loan to Brown and her husband, Michael, who had lost his sales job and was facing mounting credit-card debt. “I saw it as money we loaned to friends who were in financial trouble and they were paying us back.”….

Read More >>> Here

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Filed under Chris Christie, ethical violations, Gov. Jon Corzine, New Jersey,

Harper’s Magazine: Manure for the Garden State

Harper’s Magazine’s Scott Horton wrote an excellent piece yesterday detailing how Chris Christie may have used his influence with friends/former employees left over at the US Attorneys Office to stage some political theather to effect the New Jersey race for governor by moving forward on a corruption crackdown that netted 44 politicians, officials and religious leaders in one day last month.

When you add this information together with possible Hatch act violantions and his loan of $46,000 to an employee in the US Attorney’s Office, Michele Brown, and his failures to disclose it on finanical statements and ELEC reports, a clear picture is starting to emerge that Chris Christie may not be the “White Knight” of political corruption busting that he wishes every to believe he is. His suit of armour as the say “Is tarneshed” :
On July 23, Acting U.S. Attorney in New Jersey Ralph Marra grabbed the nation’s attention by stepping before the cameras to announce the fruits of a long political corruption investigation managed by his office. Forty-four individuals had been indicted on charges that demonstrated the “pervasive nature of public corruption in this state,” he said. The haul included two state assemblymen, the mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus, and Ridgefield, and numerous lesser figures. “The politicians willingly put themselves up for sale,” Marra told the press. “For these defendants, corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone.” He praised the long work of the FBI and his team. But of course the media proceeded to credit the man who launched and oversaw the probe for most of its course, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.

As it happens, Christie is the Republican candidate to replace Jon Corzine as governor of New Jersey. He’s running on an anti-corruption platform, and this news—which stole headlines for a solid week—helped to propel him to a solid lead over the incumbent in the polls.

Watching this unfold, it was hard not to notice how convenient it all was for the Christie campaign. The announcement reflected a substantial number of largely unrelated cases, but they had been aggregated and held for arrests all on the same day as a sort of batch-release. Whatever law-enforcement considerations justified this step, it clearly helped gain newspaper headlines. Moreover, the announcement came at the end of July, which is the last possible moment for indictments with political impact in an election year cycle. Department of Justice guidelines preclude a U.S. attorney from announcing politically-charged indictments in a campaign season, which, by general reckoning, would begin the following month.

So it all looked good for Chris Christie—his accusations of public corruption were dramatically validated in newspaper headlines, and he was presented as a sort of Thomas E. Dewey—a clean prosecutor in a position to right the situation. But now, suddenly the Associated Press reported that the

Justice Department was examining whether acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra made inappropriate public comments that boosted Republican Chris Christie’s political challenge to incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. Before running for office, Christie was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, and Marra was his top deputy. Marra made the comments last month while announcing the corruption case against dozens of suspects.

But the investigation may wind up reaching far beyond an error in judgment about specific words used at a press conference or the timing of the announcement of indictments. The Justice Department’s internal probe comes just as The New York Times reveals the existence of a significant, undisclosed financial relationship between Christie and Michele A. Brown, another prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office. In response to an appeal from Brown, whose husband had lost his job, Christie loaned her $46,000 and took a mortgage on her home as security. The matter raises interest because failure to report this dealing is potentially a crime—and indeed, in the group of 44 political figures whose indictment was announced on July 23, one—Bergen County Democrat Dennis Oury—was indicted specifically for filing financial statements that failed to disclose a holding in a company that received public funds.

Today, Christie sounds remarkably like Mr. Oury:

“When I make mistakes, I’m going to admit them,” he said, adding that he had already amended some of those filings and would finish the rest by Friday. “It was certainly nothing that I was trying to conceal or hide.”…

Read More >>>Here

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Filed under Chris Christie, ethical violations, Gov. Jon Corzine, Harper Magazine, Hatch Act, Michele Brown, New Jersey, political corruption, Ralph Marra, Scott Horton, U.S Attorney Office