Monmouth County Republican Chairman John Bennett wrote to Sheriff Shaun Golden today, reiterating his concerns about the potential ethical questions raised by Manalapan GOP Chairman Steve McEnery and Freehold Republican Chairman Anthony Graziano and challenged Golden to a debate to which all County Committee Members would be invited.
Bennett did not offer to buy breakfast, lunch or dinner for those attending the debate, but he was agreeable to MMM publisher Art Gallagher moderating.
Bennett’s letter can be viewed here.
In his letter to Golden, Bennett restated his argument that McEnery and Graziano were not attacking the Sheriff’s character or ethics, but rather raising a legitimate question under the New Jersey Local Government Ethics Law. Bennett said that the Court case that Golden cited in responding to McEnery and Graziano does not apply to the questions raised by the municipal chairman because 1) the Ethics Law was enacted in 1991 and the Court’s decision was in 1978, 2) the Court case applied to a sheriff holding the office of municipal chairman, not county chairman and 3) the Ethics Law “does without question address the risks to both you and the Freeholders should you hold both positions.”
Bennett said that Golden’s response to the McEnery-Graziano letter was a personal attack on him. He said that his daughter, Meghan Bennett Clark, had acquired his legal practice and that he no longer earns money as a result of Meghan’s legal work for Monmouth County.
Bennett said that Golden could have sought an advisory opinion of the Local Finance Board. “You did not, and the issue lingers.”
This is not about you or me, Shaun, and although I believe your intentions are pure, this is about preserving the Party’s best interest. The issue gives everyone pause, and it should because there are long term implications for the Party. Let us never forget we live in a County where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 4,000 voters. We need stability and strong leadership at the Chairman’s position, not unanswered questions.
Bennett said that the race should be on the issues, and avoid personal attacks. He asked that Golden and his supporters stop the personal attacks against him and his family, online and elsewhere, and said that he has asked his supporters to do the same.
When reached for comment, Golden said he had not yet seen Bennett’s letter.