TOMS RIVER-The power struggle within the Ocean County GOP will show itself in the first week of January when towns announced their 2020 professional service appointments at their annual reorganization meetings. Two factions of Republicans are currently opposing each other within the county, those loyal to newly elected GOP Chairman Frank Holman and those who oppose the part-time chairman’s reign.
In Jackson, former Gilmore firm attorney Jean Cipriani is officially on notice after a meeting was held this week to pave the way for Holman ally Gregory P. McGuckin and his firm Dasti, Murphy and McGuckin to take Cipriani’s spot as township legal council.
Cipriani now works for Rothstein Mandell Strohm.
Rumors are swirling that Toms River Township Republicans are considering switching in-house legal counsel to the McGuckin/Dasti law firm as well.
In Toms River, Mayor-elect Maurice Hill has announced that he will force over 40 employees to reapply for their jobs, fearing those employees maintain political allegiance to the Gilmore faction. Hill and Mayor Kelaher have been feuding quietly behind the scenes for years and many within the township government did not support Hill’s candidacy for Mayor in that town. Reorganization in Toms River will allow Hill to clean house, removing township employees loyal to Gilmore and Kelaher.
When townships hold their re-organization meetings, appointments are a very telling sign of political allegiance and financial support. Generally governing bodies in Ocean County award high-paying contracts to their top political donors, most of which are extremely active pay-to-play firms, according to the New Jersey Elections Law Enforcement Commission.
The Dasti, Murphy & McGuckin law firm is expected to be this year’s big winner in Ocean County as McGuckin heads Maurice Hill’s mayoral transition team and is reportedly the author of Hill’s “re-application” letter, according to the Asbury Park Press.
“The letters were sent by Gregory P. McGuckin, a Republican state assemblyman who represents the 10th District in the legislature, and is also head of Hill’s transition team,” the paper reported.
That law firm currently earns over $1.5 million in pay-to-play contracts doled out by political allies across New Jersey. In 2018, the firm was paid $250,000 by the township of Toms River alone.