Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Local Government Ethics Law complaint against Westampton Township Committeeman Robert Maybury

February 11, 2015

Patricia Parkin McNamara
Local Finance Board
101 S Broad St – PO Box 803
Trenton, NJ 08625-0803
(via e-mail only to Patricia.McNamara@dca.state.nj.us)

Dear Ms. McNamara:

I intend this e-mail to be my complaint against Robert Maybury who, at all times relevant to the activities alleged below, served as a member of the Westampton Township Committee in Burlington County. In accordance with N.J.A.C. 5:35-1.1(b), following are the required elements of the complaint:

1. State the point of the Local Government Ethics Law (LGEL) alleged to be violated. 

N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(d) which states:
No local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment. 
In addition, other subsections of N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5 may be been violated as well.

2. State the name(s) and title(s) of the parties involved in the action and against whom the complaint is filed. 

Complainant John Paff and the New Jersey Libertarian Party and Robert Maybury.

3. Set forth in detail the pertinent facts surrounding the alleged violative action. 

The following facts were derived from news articles appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Burlington County Times.  On December 12, 2014, Westampton Township Committeeman Robert Maybury voted "aye" to appoint Jason Carty as Westampton Township's fire chief and EMS director.  The positions to which Carty was appointed pay $90,000 per year.  On or about December 10, 2014, Carty had resigned as a Commissioner of the Mount Holly Municipal Utilities Authority.  Yet, while Carty was an MUA Commissioner, he voted "aye" on appointing Maybury as the MUA's interim director.  (The MUA's October, 9, 2014 meeting minutes reflect that Carty voted "aye" on Res. 2014-95 which appointed an unnamed interim executive director which must be Maybury given that Maybury is identified as the interim director in the November 13, 2014 meeting minutes.)  Maybury's position as interim director appears to be a paid position given that Joseph V. Rizzuto, the MUA's previous executive director, was paid $110,000 in 2013 according to Gannett's "DataUniverse" site.

Had Carty been an MUA Commissioner on December 12, 2014, I believe that Maybury's "aye" vote to appoint Carty would have violated N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(d) because--at least in my view--Maybury would have "act[ed] in his official capacity in any matter where he . . . [had] a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment."

If this is true, then it doesn't seem to me that it should matter whether Carty was still an MUA commissioner at the time of Maybury's vote or had resigned a couple of days prior to Maybury's vote.  Maybury and Carty both acted in their official capacities to appoint each other to paid public jobs.  It seems pretty clear to me that Carty's December 8, 2014 resignation from the MUA was no accident--rather it was designed to give support to Westampton Solicitor George Saponaro's statement, as reported in the Inquirer, that Maybury's "recusal was not needed because Carty had resigned as a commissioner a few days earlier."

I file this complaint not as much to subject Maybury to the LGEL's ridiculously paltry fines.  Rather, I challenge the Local Finance Board to make a ruling on this issue which I plan to make public once it is rendered.  I think that the public will be interested in knowing whether the ethical propriety Carty's and Maybury's mutually beneficial votes turns on Carty's election to separate himself from his MUA Commissioner's position a couple of days before Maybury cast his vote.

If the Board determines that Carty's eleventh hour resignation from the MUA immunizes him from what would have been an ethics violation had he not resigned, such a ruling would hopefully prod the legislature to consider strengthening the LGEL to close up this and other loopholes.

4. Indicate whether the complaint concerns the complainant in any way and what, if any, relationship the complainant has to the subject of the complaint. 

Complainant has no interest in or relation
ship to this complaint greater than any other citizen or organization who wishes for all government officers and employees to comply fully with the Local Government Ethics Law.

5. Indicate any other action previously taken in an attempt to resolve the issue and indicate whether the issue is the subject of pending litigation elsewhere. 

No other action has been taken previously in an attempt to resolve this issue and this issue is not the subject of any pending litigation. Thank you for your attention to this matter. I ask that you please acknowledge your receipt of this complaint within 30 days.

Sincerely,

/s/ John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Open Government Advocacy Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ 08875
Voice: 732-873-1251