The Committee of Petitioners to repeal Belmar’s recently passed Ethics Ordinance that would allow Borough elected officials seeking higher office to accept campaign contributions from town vendors, developers, professionals and liquor licensees and accept anonymous contributions under $300 submitted 326 signatures to Borough Clerk April Claudio today, according to Committee Member Katrina Clapsis.
Claudio confirmed the receipt of the petition.
Dubbed “Matt’s Law” by locals because the timing of the Ordinance’s introduction and passage coincided with Mayor Matt Doherty’s announcement that he is running for Monmouth County Freeholder, the measure is now subject to repeal by the Borough Council or a referendum within 40-90 days of the signatures being certified by Claudio. 61 more signatures than need to force a repeal or referendum were submitted, according to Clapsis.
Claudio has 10 days to certify the petition and the Committee has 10 days to submit an amended petition if necessary.
The Committee of Independent and Democrat voters, Thomas Fahy, Linda Chelsen, Linda Sharkus, Katrina Clapsis, and former Mayor Kenneth Pringle announced their effort to repeal “Matt’s Law” on Common Sense for Belmar on February 28 with the following statement:
To the people of Belmar:
The recent guilty pleas by former Birdsall executives serve as a reminder that the purchase of political influence by outside interests continues to be a problem that taxpayers must vigilantly protect themselves against. We signers of this letter (all of us are either political independents or registered Democrats) have been grateful that Belmar has enjoyed having very strict pay to play ordinances on the books that we believe have served us well and greatly reduced the likelihood of such improprieties occurring here.
Unfortunately, on February 16 the Borough Council voted to remove from our conflict of interest ordinance some of our most important protections, opening the door to pass-through contributions that conceal the identity of the actual donor, contributions from vendors and professionals who may be looking to win contracts from the Borough, contributions from contractors seeking change orders on bid contracts, and contributions from holders of liquor licenses who might like to see a more compliant Borough Council (which acts as the local ABC board.)
The revised ordinance also, very importantly, removes all donation restrictions on Belmar elected officials who may be running for another office outside of Belmar. We feel our public officials should not be accepting money from anyone with business before the Council irrespective of the office that person might be running for.
We will be circulating a petition to protest these detrimental changes to our campaign finance laws and ask all registered voters of Belmar to join our cause and sign the petition.
Please call 732-409-0138 or email [email protected] and ask to sign the petition. With your help we can restore these important protections for the taxpayers of Belmar.
Clapsis said that collecting the signatures was easy and that Borough residents were enthused to repeal the Ordinance. Doherty did not return a call for comment.