When we last heard from Lawrence “The Lunger” Luttrell, the three time election loser, was scurrying into obscurity while threatening to sue the Monmouth County Republican Committee for a radio ad that claimed his law license was “suspended” when in fact he had been ruled ineligible to practice law.
To our knowledge, no one has actually investigated whether or not Luttrell actually practiced law during his ineligibility. He claimed he was unaware that he had been ruled ineligible, so maybe he did perform legal work when he was not legally authorized to do so. That would be a problem.
Now, nearly a year later, Luttrell has resurfaced in an apparent attempt to keep the voters of Marlboro in the dark about Councilwoman Randi Marder’s ethics violations and worse, the waste of $16,000 of Marlboro tax dollars that Mayor Jon Hornik and the Marlboro Township Council authorized to be spent in legal fees to appeal the New Jersey Local Finance Board’s findings that Marder committed eight ethical violations associated with the Township doing business with her husband’s companies.
The Local Finance Board fined Marder $100 for each violation. Thus, Marlboro Taxpayers are spending $16,000 to 1) overturn fines of $800 and 2) to argue that Marder did not violate any ethics rules when she omitted mentioning her husband’s company on part of her Financial Disclosure Statements and when she voted to authorized the Township to do business with her husband’s company.
Instead of spending that $16,000 in legal fees on such a ridiculous matter, Hornik could have bought trophies and t-shirts for Recreation Department campers, found a way to monitor the cell phone activities of Marlboro camp counselors while they were working with teen-aged girls, or held a lottery in which one lucky homeowner would not have to pay property taxes for a year.
Earlier this week, MMM published a story stating, apparently incorrectly, that Marder had omitted disclosing three other companies from her financial disclosure documents. The story was online for about three hours before we confirmed and corrected the error. The story had been online for an hour and twenty minutes before Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik called to claim that the story was inaccurate and that a different Randi and Steven Marder owned the Florida companies that we reported were owned by Steven and Randi Marder of Marlboro, Randi being the Councilwoman. We updated the story with Hornik’s claim immediately.
We believed the story about the Florida companies to be true when we originally published it. We no longer believe it is true, which is why we published the update and corrections. But it might be true. All we know for sure is that a man claiming to be the lawyer named Mark Marder, the Registered Agent for the three Florida companies, returned our call and said that the Steven and Randi Marder who own the Florida companies do not live in Marlboro, NJ and that the Randi Marder who is an owner of the Florida companies is not an Councilwoman in Marlboro, NJ. We should have called Mark Marder before the original publication.
After posting the corrections, Hornik called to say that was not enough. He wanted the story taken down. Hornik said we were liable for $30-$50 thousand in damages. He just wanted, we think, the story taken down because he doesn’t want Marlboro voters focused on Marder’s ethical violations and the waste of $16,000 before the election on November 3. That’s political gamesmanship that is consistent with our relationship with Hornik.
UPDATE: Thirteen minutes after this story posted, Hornik called to deny that he said we we’re liable for $30-50 K in damages. He says that he said that there are recent cases in which those kinds of damages were awarded.
Just before Hornik’s call, Luttrell emailed a Cease and Desist letter. We responded to the letter stating that the story had been corrected before we received his letter and that we disagreed with his characterization of the story as “unlawful defamation.”
After all, Marder is a public figure. We corrected the article as soon as we had an apparently credible and disinterested party state that it was inaccurate.
It’s not as though we accused Marder of illegally providing millions of dollars to buy a farm or that she had a warrant out for her arrest in Texas. We made a mistake, just like the Asbury Park Press and NJ.com made mistakes when they took Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal’s word for it when they reported in 2013 that a Red Bank Council Candidate had an warrant for his arrest in Texas.
But the corrections were not enough for Luttrell. He emailed again yesterday in a second attempt to bully us into deleting the corrected story. He is claiming we had to know, before publishing the original story, that there were two different Randi and Steven Marders because the two Randi Marders have different middle initials. If that’s true, we did not notice. And it really doesn’t matter because we know, Luttrell knows and Hornik knows that there is no cause for legal action here.
Luttrell and Hornik are just trying, we think, to get the news Marder’s ethical violations and Hornik’s ridiculous waste of taxpayers dollars off this website. That didn’t work.