By Art Gallagher
George Gilmore, the Ocean County Republican Chairman and Board of Elections Chairman who was indicted on federal tax evasion and bank fraud charges last week, didn’t pay his taxes and omitted tax debt from a loan application because he has a hoarding disorder, his lawyer told the Asbury Park Press.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office was aware of Gilmore’s disability before it sought an indictment, his lawyer, Kevin Marino told app.
Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If Gilmore is indeed suffering from hoarding disorder, he has serious medical reasons to step aside from his positions of public trust, in addition to the life altering legal challenges he is facing. According to Psychiatric Times, Individuals with hoarding disorder (HD) typically experience significant impairment in several aspects of daily functioning, including psychosocial, occupational, and family domains. Clinically, HD must be distinguished from other neuropsychiatric disorders. It should be noted that while HD can occur independently of other disorders, up to 75% of individuals with HD have at least one other co-occurring psychiatric condition.
Regardless of whether or not Gilmore’s judgment regarding his taxes and a loan application was impaired by mental disorder, it would understandable if his judgement since learning he was indicted was not entirely sound.
In my experience, being charged with a felony that I didn’t commit was traumatic. My judgment was not sound when that occurred seven years ago. Fortunately family members and friends were able to talk sense to me and keep me from doing further damage to my already precarious situation.
Gilmore may need that kind of advice. I can’t imagine a scenario in which his continuing to hold his public offices supports his legal defense or medical recovery. So long as he maintains positions of power, his troubles are front page news. If he steps down, the news of his legal and medical situations is a lot less interesting.
Calling for Gilmore to resign as Ocean GOP Chairman and from the OC Board of Elections does not imply that one does not support Gilmore or appreciate his contributions. Calling for his resignation is not an act of betrayal, it is an act of support.
Political leaders in Ocean County and in the NJ GOP need to put the public interest above Gilmore’s personal interest to the extent the two conflict. I don’t see an scenario where Gilmore continuing to hold his offices serves the public interest while he is fighting for his freedom and his mental health.
Gilmore should step aside. If he is exonerated and is healthy, he should be celebrated and embraced back with a hero’s welcome.
In the meantime, he should stay out of the public eye to the extent possible and focus on his defense and recovery. The Ocean GOP should embrace new leadership and focus on winning elections in the Assembly this November and in county municipal races, with Gilmore’s help in the background if appropriate. The Ocean Board of Elections should conduct the County’s elections with integrity and without the shadow of a scandal.