JACKSON TOWNSHIP-According to meeting minutes released by the Township of Jackson, the township council will be hiring Gregory P. McGuckin, Esq of the lawfirm Dasti, Murphy, McGuckin, Ulaky, Koutsouris and Connors as the township general legal counsel.
The appointment comes as the law firm has been busy pushing its political clout across the county in towns such as Toms River, Manchester and Lacey who are also expected to make the highly controversial political appointment to appease the new leadership of the Ocean County Republican Party, led by Chairman Frank B. Holman, III.
The contract is estimated to be worth between $250,000 and $350,000 annually.
“CONSENT TO THE APPOINTMENT OF TOWNSHIP ATTORNEY, GREGORY MCGUCKIN OF THE FIRM DASTI, MURPHY, MCGUCKIN, ULAKY, KOUTSOURIS AND CONNORS,” the agenda for Thursday’s meeting announcement read.
McGuckin who serves as New Jersey Assemblyman in the state’s 10th legislative district is a former municipal councilman in Toms River. In 2007, he ran for Mayor of Toms River, but suspended his campaign after it was made known that he was delinquent in paying his federal taxes and a $120,000 lein was placed on his home by the IRS.
Jackson Township’s previous attorney George Gilmore, of the lawfirm Gilmore and Monahan resigned earlier this year after being indicted and convicted in federal court on tax charges, according to the Asbury Park Press.
McGuckin eventually abandoned his campaign to be mayor in 2007. He currently serves as township planning board attorney. Mayor Michael Reina will announce his choice for McGuckin’s replacement on the township planning board.
“While I deeply appreciate the words of support and encouragement that I have received throughout Toms River, the fact is I have made a mistake with my personal finances,” McGuckin said in a press release at the time, announcing the termination of his political campaign.
The firm is also facing possible campaign ethics violations in Hamilton Township where the firm serves as the planning board attorney. According to sources in Hamilton, the firm will not be retained in 2020 because the township suspects the firm had violated New Jersey Election Campaign Pay to Play limits that would make it ineligible to receive a contract for work in that town. A letter issued by Jerry Dasti to the New Jersey Election Commission explains how the firm may have attempted to skirt New Jersey pay to play laws by exceeding the pay to play max contribution limit.
The firm is also jockeying for political appointments in Toms River, Lacey and Manchester where much political negotiating has been going on to secure the appointments which could bring as much as $1,000,000 annually in public funds to the firm. The firm currently receives $1.58 million in public funds through political appointments made possible in part by over $36,000 in political campaign contributions to political candidates in towns where the firm holds political patronage contracts.
Read More: McGuckin Pays off His Tax Leins.
In 2018, the latest year on file with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the firm earned $58,000 from Jackson Township. The firm donated $2,200 in political contributions in 2018 to the Jackson Township Republican Party’s campaign of Mayor Michael Reina, Councilman Alex Sauickie and Councilman Andy Kern.
McGuckin also serves as Toms River Mayor-Elect Maurice Hill’s transition team leader and is expected to be awarded a lucrative contract from Mayor Hill on Thursday. The firm also holds a possible 3-2 vote in Lacey Township despite complaints of a possible conflict of interest between the firm and Lacey Township Mayor Steve Kennis. In Lacey McGuckin’s firm submitted a bid proposal for $150 per hour. Competing firm Rothstein, Mandell, Strohm, Halm and Cipriani submitted a proposal that was below that of the Dasti, McGuckin firm.
Check back on Shore News Network on Friday to see which towns awarded high paying contracts in Ocean County to their political campaign contributors.