“Lawless Matt” Doherty defies Court, Pay to Play Ordinance

Defy– openly resist or refuse to obey

MayorLawless Matt Doherty speaks during the Two Year Hurricane Sandy Anniversary while Governor Christie practices his Trump sidekick pose(Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Mayor “Lawless Matt” Doherty speaks during the Two Year Hurricane Sandy Anniversary while Governor Christie practices his Trump sidekick pose(Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen)

In his latest campaign finance disclosure with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Belmar Mayor “Lawless Matt” Doherty did not disclose the names of donors who gave his campaign $300 or less, as required by Belmar’s Ethics and Pay to Play Law.

Before he stopped talking to MoreMonmouthMusings, shortly after he declared his candidacy for Monmouth County Freeholder in January, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty told us that his borough’s pay to play ordinance was unenforceable.  Never-the-less, he pushed the Borough Council to pass a new ordinance that would allow him to take donations from people and entities who have business with or are regulated by the Borough and not to disclose donations less than $300.

The new ordinance was dubbed “Matt’s Law” because, despite Doherty’s insistence that the new law had nothing to do with his campaign for freeholder and that purpose of the relaxed ethics law was to help local Republicans, he was the obvious beneficiary. He recused himself from voting on “Matt’s Law” at the insistence of the Borough Attorney.  He openly objected to the attorney’s advise, but complied anyway.

A group of Belmar citizens circulated a legal petition in opposition to the new, less restrictive ethics law. Enough signatures were collected to trigger the suspension of “Matt’s Law” and require that the matter be put to Belmar voters before it could become effective. The petition was certified by Borough Clerk April Claudio.  Then the Council rejected the petition without offering any legal justification for doing so.  The borough went full steam ahead as if “Matt’s Law” was in effect. The new law was codified in the Borough Code.  Doherty proceeded to raise money aggressively.

The petitioners went to Monmouth County Superior Court to protest the lawless behavior of Doherty and the Council, the Clerk and the Administrator and order them to comply with the Faulkner Act, the State law that gave the petitioners the authority to petition against “Matt’s Law” and force a referendum on the matter.  Judge Katie Gummer ruled that “Matt’s Law” is not in effect.  Judge Gummer ordered that “Matt’s Law” be removed from the Borough Code and that a referendum be scheduled unless the Council repeals the ordinance.  Claudio complied with Judge Gummer’s Order and removed “Matt’s Law” from the Borough Code.  A referendum has not been scheduled, but there is still time for that.  The Council has not repealed “Matt’s Law.”

But Lawless Matt is not following the Belmar pay to play ordinance.  He is operating, in defiance of Judge Gummer’s Order, as if “Matt’s Law” is in effect.  He is operating, as he implied that he would when we talked to him in January, as if Belmar’s Ethics Law if not enforceable.

In his NJ Election Law Enforcement disclosure dated May 9 and posted on the ELEC website yesterday, Lawless Matt disclosed that he raised $116,730 for his freeholder campaign. He collected $18,730 in donations of $300 or less, but he did not disclose who made those donations, as the Belmar ethics ordinance requires.

NJ ELEC does not require that donors who give $300 or less be disclosed.  Belmar’s Ethics Ordinace does.

To give Lawless Matt the benefit of the doubt, we called his campaign treasurer, Matthew Anderson of Middletown, to ask for a list of donors who gave Doherty $300 or less.  Anderson refused to answer any questions and referred us Monmouth County Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal.

Gopal said “We are following all state rules, regulations and laws by New Jersey and ELEC.”  What about the local Belmar ordinance, we asked. “I have no comment on that,” Gopal said and repeated, “We are following all state rules, regulations and laws by New Jersey and ELEC.”

Asked if he considers Judge Gummer’s Order to be a state rule or law, Gopal said, “You have my answer.”


Posted: May 17th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Belmar, Matt Doherty, Monmouth County, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

9 Comments on ““Lawless Matt” Doherty defies Court, Pay to Play Ordinance”

  1. Nothing like said at 10:58 am on May 17th, 2016:

    transparency.. One would hope that the usual Democrat practice of making and living by their own rules, and often skirting laws, (or in the case of their presumptive Presidential nominee, likely breaking laws,) will count more in this election, than his rather strong popularity in the entire Shore Area.. Time will tell- hint to the GOP: make sure the voters hear about this, and we will see if they care. ( But, for God’s sake, not with a flier like the “hit piece” in district 11 last year, which, I believe, gave far too much free name ID to the eventual winners!)

  2. @Nothing Like said at 11:24 am on May 17th, 2016:

    What “hit piece” in LD-11 are you talking about? Would it be the slanderous piece that the all-female team of Casagrande, Angelini, and Beck conducted when Vin was running for Assembly?

    Speaking of transparency–or the lack therof, ask Beck who her clients are with her marketing company known as JAB Marketing, and ask her why she has made over $50,000.00 dollars and has not been registered with the state Treasury Department.

    Now that is truly lack of transparency!

  3. Am talking about said at 1:19 pm on May 17th, 2016:

    the ugly, orange and green piece the GOP district 11 team put out in 2015, against Downing and Houghteling: which was weak in its attacks, and didn’t bother to tell folks whom to vote FOR: it is a typical practice many campaigns use, to supposedly create negative impressions of their challengers, but, IMHO, simply tells the voters who the (usually prior) unknowns ARE, at the incumbents’ expense!- a waste of money!..it has never made sense to me: I am criticizing that TYPE of strategy: some seem to immediately want to go personal, rather than discuss a tactic! .. PS: Whatever problems any other candidates may have in their re- election, will certainly come out next year/ next campaign, won’t they?- We will see what type of literature the consultants( who get paid, win or lose,) foist upon the “sitting ducks” then, won’t we?.. Must be both convincing and lucrative, the “campaign training tactics” some consultants seem to embrace, or we wouldn’t keep seeing these similar failed ideas/ strategies, practiced!

  4. Vin is all talk said at 1:23 pm on May 17th, 2016:

    Vin’s a used car salesman if I ever saw one. Talking a big game this year, still patting himself on the back for a race he didn’t even win last year. (speaking of which Vin should send Suzie McCue a fruit basket)

    Meanwhile, over half his County Committee seats are EMPTY.

  5. @Am Talking About said at 1:25 pm on May 17th, 2016:

    So Angelini and Casagrande were supposed to put out puff piece mailers of them cutting ribbons and kissing babies while their opponents were spending over a million dollars slandering them day in and day out?

  6. Meanwhile, said at 1:31 pm on May 17th, 2016:

    back to this important, presidential- turnout year, one has to give most Dems credit: they keep their eye on the prize (i.e., winning,) and charge full- speed ahead, the hell with measley rules/ laws: they keep going, and collecting more money,until somebody really successfully stops ’em..This year, the way folks raise their campaign funds doesn’t seem to matter: ( look at “Crooked Hillary” and the hundreds of millions $$ in her Foundation and campaign strange and foreign contributions) – people are both fed up with the whole process and practice, most incumbents, and, they seem to want to chuck most of it, and try something else: we will learn what that translates into, late on November 8th, one would think!

  7. @@ Am Talking About said at 5:22 pm on May 17th, 2016:

    Perhaps if Casagrande and Angelini engaged in debates with their Democratic rivals–instead of leaving their district to attend a fundraiser hosted by Chris Christie on their behalf–they would be in the Assembly today!!


  8. Some of their best said at 5:36 pm on May 17th, 2016:

    past pieces were positive pieces, of their actual accomplishments in service.. they were colorful, with great photos of them in action, meeting people, doing the job: last year, their negative piece came first, too early, and gave the newbies the time and chance to respond in worse ways, including the nasty Facebook hits, at the end: whatever you want to say to defend the mistake, it sure did work for those Dems,in unseating two incumbents in an “off” year..again, the consultants are not always right in their assessment and conduct of a race, and it was just a shame-period..

  9. David Schneck said at 4:54 am on May 18th, 2016:

    Just one minor clarification Art. You have to go to the campaign contribution disclosure page on the Belmar website to check for compliance with the requirement to identify small contributors. That information is not sent to the state, only to the Borough.

    Anyway, it’s not up there.

    Embedding your story onto the blog today.