Democrats say they have filed an ethics complaint against Atlantic County Republican Freeholder Frank Giordano, claiming that he wrote a letter to The Press of Atlantic City about his at-large Democratic opponent Colin Bell on official county letterhead.
The complaint, filed by longtime Democratic campaign worker Mary Slomine of Margate, claims Giordano “allegedly used county staff and county stationery to send a letter ... which was political in nature and which should have been more appropriately sent on his campaign stationery and written by him personally or by his campaign staff,” county Democratic chairman Jim Schroeder said in an email.
Giordano’s letter, published July 13, was in response to a letter Bell wrote critical of the freeholders’ handling of the Egg Harbor Township circle.
“Democratic freeholder candidate Colin Bell’s July 6 letter, ‘Don’t fall for the spin on new Airport Circle,’ shows how silly one can look when they try to politicize an issue and have no idea what they are talking about,” Giordano had written. “Bell’s ridiculous and nonsensical allegations reflect poorly on his honesty as both a candidate and an attorney.”
Slomine could not be reached for comment Friday, and Giordano deferred comment to Republican chair Keith Davis.
Davis, who said he was unfamiliar with the details of the complaint, said that “Mary Slomine is typically the hatchet person for the Democratic Party. ... Unfortunately, the Democrats have started out their campaign on an increasingly negative tone instead of talking about issues important to people, like job creation and getting the economy going again.”
Any decision on whether to hold a hearing on an ethics complaint would be made by the Atlantic County Ethics Board, which does not meet until October. Schroeder was critical of the fact that the attorney for the Ethics Board, Northfield attorney Carol Goloff, is married to the treasurer for Giordano’s campaign and the county Republicans.
“I can’t see how in any stretch of the imagination that passes the smell test,” Schroeder said. ‘If this is going to be the scenario, having (investigations for) the ethics board administered by someone with such close ties to one party, I’d argue it would be better off being handled by the state Ethics Board.”
Goloff said that she could not discuss whether a specific complaint has or has not been filed in advance of the Ethics Board meeting, per county guidelines, but added that “If there were a conflict, and certainly my husband being someone’s treasurer would be a conflict, other attorneys would handle it.
“I wouldn’t handle something even if there were the appearance of a conflict,” Goloff continued. “If a conflict were brought to my attention, a new person would be brought in for a redo. A person is always entitled to a redo with a new attorney, (even) if I’ve reached out to them and they’ve talked to me.”
Contact Steven Lemongello:
Follow Steven Lemongello on Twitter @SteveLemongello