Belmar voters overwhelmingly reject “Matt’s Law”

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty

Belmar Mayor “Lawless Matt” Doherty

By a margin of 829-292, Belmar voters repudiated the hubris of Mayor “Lawless Matt” Doherty on Tuesday.

In a special election to decide the validity of the pay to play/ethics law that the borough council approved shortly after Doherty became a candidate for Monmouth County Freeholder last Spring voters said NO to the mayor’s attempt to change the rules for his own ambitions.  Doherty, a Democrat, had claimed that the new law had nothing to do with his candidacy for Freeholder. Rather, it was designed to make it easier for Belmar Republicans to raise money.

The law, which had it been approved by the voters, would have allowed Doherty to conceal contributions to his campaign for Freeholder in the amount of $300 or less and to accept donations from liquor license holders, developers and other vendors and professionals with business before the Borough and still take official action on that business.  The existing pay to play/ethics ordinance in the borough prohibits those activities.

Doherty and Monmouth Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal have yet to blame the Monmouth GOP or MoreMonmouthMusings for the defeat, as is their custom when things go wrong for them.

Kid protesterNor should they.  The credit for this good government victory goes to former Mayor Ken Pringle and a small group of citizens, mostly fellow Democrats, who have stood up to Doherty’s lawlessness in the face of intimidation, retribution and other bullying.

Related stories: The Matt’s Law Saga

The 30% turnout is extraordinarily high for a special election in September.  In the special election for a United States Senate seat in 2013 only 7% of Belmar voters turned out to vote.

The Matt’s Law ordinance that the Belmar Council passed in February would have allowed Doherty to accept donations from borough vendors, professionals and liquor licensees and to accept secret donations in the amounts of $300 or less for his campaign for Monmouth County Freeholder.  The current ordinance, which has been in effect for 12 years, prohibits those donations.  A committee of Belmar citizens filed a valid petition challenging the ordinance under the Faulkner Act which the borough rejected with no explanation or legal justification.  The committee sued and Judge Katie Gummer ruled that the new ordinance has never taken effect, that the old ordinance is “the law of the land” and that a referendum will take place on September 27 in accordance with the Faulkner Act.

New Jersey’s Appellate Court upheld Judge Gummer’s decision last month.

Posted: September 28th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Belmar, Matt Doherty, Monmouth County, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

7 Comments on “Belmar voters overwhelmingly reject “Matt’s Law””

  1. JB said at 7:36 am on September 28th, 2016:

    Do not fall for the argument that Doherty is at a disadvantage when raising campaign fund because of this Belmar ordinance. This ordinance only applies to Belmar candidates and Belmar elected officials. Mayor Doherty could of waited till his term was up or step down as Mayor before running for freeholder and his hands would of been freed. He instead choose to change the 12 year law to suit his needs. Typical Doherty. He is a true member of the ruling class.

  2. Truth Hurts said at 8:21 am on September 28th, 2016:

    Wether GOP OR DEM. Politicians in Monmouth County and NJ are not trusted. Very few are unselfish. Politicians should focus on serving the people. Why do so many politicians get involved in side investments/ land deals and business? This is shady and proves to people they are using positions to enrich themselves. Politicians are getting arrested or indicted in NJ every month. Why ?

  3. Richard Stein said at 8:52 am on September 28th, 2016:

    Perhaps the writer of this article should go back to school – “nothing to due” Tsk! Tsk!

  4. Joshu Vallario said at 7:43 pm on September 28th, 2016:

    The attempted change of a 12 year old law was completey sef-serving on the part of the current administration. The town residents obviously voiced their opinions on Tuesday. Its a shame that township dollars were used so sefishly for the appeal and for the cost of the voting process. Perhaps that should come out of the Democrat’s campaign funds…

  5. A voice for change said at 12:16 am on September 29th, 2016:

    If you take a rest from the name calling you would see that Mayor Doherty is at worst a man who received bad legal advice and nothing more. Far from being a lawless Matt. He was only interested in leveling the playing field nothing more.
    How can Democrats get a chance to reform county government when theyre up against such an entrenched Repulbican administration? Real freeholders, Doherty and Fulton, doing more than fighting over what certificate they give out.
    Now that this is over Matt can look forwards and focus on winning!

  6. What part of said at 1:35 pm on September 29th, 2016:

    a rare triple A bond rating, ( better than 90 % of the counties, this downgraded state, and even Obama’s economy) don’t you get? What part of the best park system, libraries, solid waste facility, alternative high schools, and community college don’t you get? ( all created and maintained by GOP-led boards.) What part of tax stabilization and cuts to personnel and operating budgets, don’t you get? Yes, most of NJ is too over- developed and expensive to live in: but, despite some personality issues, what is the cogent and real argument to change this county board,today?

  7. Proud Republican said at 7:28 pm on September 29th, 2016:

    @truth hurts – why don’t you put yourself out there and run for office? You can show everyone how it’s supposed to be done, right? Better yet, If Monmouth County is so bad, why don’t you move to one of those bastions of democrat leadership, Hudson, Essex or Camden County? That way, you can see what Vin Gopal has in store for our precious Monmouth County should the unthinkable happen.