By Art Gallagher
Part 3 of this series was going to be about Christine Hanlon, but that will have to wait.
John Bennett called in a rage today over the two pieces about him. He was screaming. All the awful things people say about me are true. At least he has the balls to say it directly to me.
He said he’s suing me and having me charged with extortion. Extortion because Christine Hanlon and Ernesto Cullari advertised here. He and Anna Little did not. That’s why I was hard on Anna Little and that’s why I’m printing “lies and untruths” about him.
I’m not really a Republican because I talked to Bob Ingle. I wish I had my wits about me to say he’s not really a Republican because he favors a woman’s right to kill babies, but I didn’t think of it until much later after someone pointed out to me how unprincipled Anna Little’s endorsement of Bennett was, given her pro-life commitment and Christine Hanlon’s pro-life commitment. Not that a county chair has any power over Roe v Wade.
Bennett did point out one inaccuracy. I said he tacked together part time jobs to get a six figure pension, a practice that is no longer legal. He said his pension is 5 figures. With his life time health benefits from the taxpayer, it probably comes to 6 figures, but I corrected the comment.
Besides that, he said, “You better have proof” that George Gilmore made a deal with him to trade legal work. I told him that I didn’t report that as a fact. “Someone else might be deciding that,” he threatened.
It was quite a call. I got a new insight into what might have motivated Skip Hidlay, the Asbury Park Press Managing Editor at the time, to be so relentless in taking John down in 2003. I’ve heard rumors this week about Bennett being vindictive and threatening people who were not supporting him for Chair. I didn’t report any of that, till now, because I couldn’t get confirmation. I got confirmation.
Bennett also complained that I haven’t written anything negative about Christine Hanlon. That is part of the extortion, he said. “You haven’t written anything about her at all!” I told him I wasn’t done with the series yet. “When are you going to write it, Wednesday?!!”
Bennett also complained about a story that I didn’t write that Freeholder Director John Curley has been pushing on me and the Asbury Park Press. It’s about an interaction that Curley had with Hanlon’s partner, Brian Nelson, at the Gala. I told him that I was talking to Curley trying to get the story straight when he hung up angry. I told Bennett that I called Curley back and haven’t heard from him since. At this point, the APP can have that story.
Bennet said that I should report that Hanlon is also tacking part time jobs for a pension. I checked, she isn’t. He said that Christine is working for the county and getting health benefits. She’s not working for the county. She’s on the Board of Elections, a State appointment. She does get health benefits.
Bennett said that I should report that Hanlon is making more than he is from government jobs. She isn’t. Between her three jobs, Deputy Attorney in Tinton Falls, the Board of Elections, and Borough Prosecutor in Atlantic Highlands, she earns about $92K. I should have charged her more for her ad.
Bennett said that his comment during our three hour meeting, “Don’t write bad things about me!” was an off the record joke. I reminded him that our meeting was not off the record. If it was a joke, what is he upset about?
“You better have a good attorney!” Bennet said. I do. He can’t wait. I can’t either.