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Ocean City freeholder fighting censure votes - Ocean City Sentinel: Breaking

Ocean City freeholder fighting censure votes

Freeholders have vote to censure E. Marie Hayes, claiming retaliation

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 12:34 pm

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Freeholders were slated to pass two resolutions censuring Freeholder E. Marie Hayes of Ocean City at their July 9 meeting. 

The meeting occurred after the Sentinel’s deadline. 

The two resolutions, introduced by Freeholder Leonard Desiderio, were titled on the agenda: 

“Resolution to Censure – This resolution takes appropriate corrective action against Freeholder Marie Hayes based upon findings of a workplace investigation” and “Resolution to Censure – This resolution takes appropriate corrective action against Freeholder Marie Hayes for violating the county’s conflict of interest policy.”

Censuring is a formal statement of disapproval or condemnation. By censuring Hayes, the freeholders will publicly acknowledge their disapproval of Hayes’ alleged actions. 

According to the New Jersey Globe, which published an online story citing an anonymous source Friday, Hayes allegedly asked her fellow freeholders about a job position for one of her relatives. Another source cited in the article stated that Hayes “harassed and pushed” some county department heads for “preferential treatment” for her family member. 

Hayes is one of five members of the all-Republican Board of Chosen Freeholders. 

Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton, who is running for re-election with Hayes of the same Republican ticket, told the New Jersey Globe that “the resolutions speak for themselves” and offered no further comment. 

Contacted by the Sentinel, Hayes issued a statement regarding the censure resolutions. 

“Recently I was informed that my name is on two censures. I am troubled by the course of conduct by Director Jerry Thornton and County Administrator Beth Bozzelli,” Hayes said in the statement. “By reason of my vote regarding the Clerk of the Board and the Director of Operations into one position, both Freeholder (Will) Morey and I have been chastised. 

“Subsequently Ms. Bozzelli made the accusation that I voted against her having both positions as an act of retaliation. What followed was me being the subject of an investigation to determine if my vote was driven by retaliation. I voted and stated my reasons very clearly on the record. I did not retaliate against Ms. Bozzelli and emphatically deny these accusations. What ensued was a lack of due process.”

“Additionally, I have been offered a lighter rebuke than a censure if I agreed to give up certain rights and make a public statement prepared by County Counsel Jeff Lindsay, who is Jerry Thornton’s stepson. I do not answer to the Director or County Counsel, I answer to the public that elected me. I look forward to pursuing my legal remedies in a court of law, if need be. I also look forward to reporting this matter to the Attorney General’s office and ask for a complete unbiased investigation of my concerns of official misconduct by others.”

Last October, freeholders voted 3-2 against tabling a resolution appointing Bozzelli the clerk of the board for three years. Hayes and Freeholder Will Morey voted yes to table the resolution, while Thornton, Desiderio and Freeholder Jeff Pierson, of Upper Township, voted no. 

Bozzelli was appointed clerk and administrator, with Thornton, Desiderio and Pierson voted for her appointment and Hayes and Morey voting against it. 

Morey and Pierson did not return phone calls seeking comment, while Desiderio and Thornton could not be reached for comment. 

Hayes linked the New Jersey Globe story to her personal Facebook page on Sunday, drawing a number of supportive comments.

“Sounds like politics at its finest,” wrote Bob Braverman. “Fight them all the way.”

“Thank you Bob! It is,” Hayes responded.

“When an independent thinking woman votes against the boss, she is retaliated against,” wrote Barbara Tomalino.  “E Marie Hayes, continue to vote for what is right. We, independent thinking women support you 100%.”

“Cape May County corrupt politics at its finest,” wrote Patti Dougherty.

“It will be quite interesting to see which freeholders are following what is right and which freeholders are simply ‘following along,” as usual,” Tomalino wrote.

“Wow … this whole package smells! Stay strong!” wrote Diane Sorantino.

The story about Hayes was written by the editor of the Globe, David Wildstein, a former senior official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey under Gov. Chris Christie. Wildstein resigned from his post in the middle of the 2013 after the scandal involving traffic lane closures on the bridge in Fort Lee that was considered political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee.

As part of a plea agreement in 2015, Wildstein pleaded guilty to two federal counts of conspiracy. He now runs the political web site, The New Jersey Globe.

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