By Art Gallagher
Former Monmouth County Prosecutor John Kaye is the new president of the Monmouth County Affiliated Republican Club.
Kaye takes over from Wayne Pomanowski who served as president for the maximum two years allowed by the club’s bylaws. 1st Vice President Gerri Popkin and 2nd Vice President Bob Burlew were unable to step up to the presidency due to other obligations. Howell Chairman John Costigan, the club Sergeant-At-Arms, declined the post because he is running to replace Monmouth GOP Chairman John Bennett on the GOP State Committee. Pomanowski said he suggested Kaye to Bennett.
Bennett said that Kaye was the unanimous choice of the club’s trustees at their January meeting. All other officers, except Pomanowski, retained their previous club offices. Pomanowski remains on the board.
The choice struck me as odd given 1) the wealth of up and coming talent in the Monmouth GOP and 2) Kaye’s rocky historical relationship with Govenor Chris Christie including the controversy surrounding Kaye towards the end of his distinguished 23 year career as Monmouth County Prosecutor.
Kaye was appointed Prosecutor by Governor Tom Kean in 1983. He served in that office until Acting Governor Codey appointed Assitant U.S. Attorney Luis Valentin to the office in 2005.
According to a March 2005 New York Times article, Kaye clashed with U.S. Attorney Christie over public corruption in Monmouth County.
During two colorful and sometimes controversial decades as the prosecutor in Monmouth County, N.J., John A. Kaye has been the pursuer, going after drug dealers, drunken drivers, killers and assorted creeps.
But now, the pursuer has become the pursued, or at least the reviewed. The state attorney general is looking into his conduct. Five of his investigators have been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury. And a prominent state senator says that Mr. Kaye should consider stepping down, contending that he has ”repeatedly betrayed the public trust and compromised the integrity of his office.”
This scrutiny comes because some federal law enforcement officials believe that Mr. Kaye deliberately interfered in an investigation into government corruption in Monmouth. The United States attorney, Christopher J. Christie, has said publicly that Mr. Kaye’s actions forced the Federal Bureau of Investigation to end its sting operation early, though not before it had enough evidence to charge 11 local officials.
Mr. Christie and Mr. Kaye, both Republicans, have long been at odds over the extent of public corruption in the county, with Mr. Kaye insisting in a 2002 interview with The Asbury Park Press that his territory ”may be the least corrupt county in this state.” Subsequent criminal cases, including the most recent, suggest otherwise.
“That was a different position at a different time,” Bennett said of Kaye’s relationship with Christie, “John is a Republican icon and a strong supporter of the governor.”
“Monmouth County is Christie country. It is especially Guadagno country,” Bennett added, emphasizing the Lt. Governor’s Monmouth County roots, “there is no rift between Christie and the Monmouth Republicans.”
Bennett praised Pomanowski for growing the Affiliated’s membership to over 600 people.
Kaye could not be reach for comment. His office said that he is on vacation until March.