TOMS RIVER, NJ – In the Mel Brooks comedy classic, History of the World Part One, there’s a scene where Brooks plays King Louis XVI and Brooks says, “It’s good to be the king.” In 2019, Frank Holman, the owner one of the county’s most notorious pay-to-play firms, Holman, Frenia was anointed the king of Ocean County. For Holman, It’s good to be the king. He became the new political boss of one of New Jersey’s once most powerful and united political organizations, the Ocean County Republican Committee. Combined, the committee controls several billion dollars worth of public contracts through the electing of willing mayors, school board members and other public officials, willing to dish out jobs to Holman and his entourage of pay to play professionals, engineers, builders and firms.
Those firms donate money to Holman’s political candidates of choice each year. If the candidate wins their election, they are expected to hire from the party’s pool of pay-to-play professionals. A $2,600 campaign donation for many firms can turn into millions of dollars in public contracts through Holman’s connections. After all, his father was once one of the most respected and powerful Republicans in the state of New Jersey. Now, living in a mere shadow of his father’s empire, Frank Holman, Jr., the younger Holman has nearly destroyed the party which is now splintered with factions fighting each other since he took control.
None of that is of any concern to Holman, because at the end of the day, he’s winning contracts and so are his partners in the soft-corruption game, a legal enterprise that is run openly like an organized crime syndicate.
In 2019 alone, according to New Jersey Election Commission filings, Holman made $6,000,000 in public contracts through his new position and activity as the pay to play boss of the Jersey Shore. Nearly every contract Holman received from a public entity can be traced back to a small political campaign donation he made to a political candidate. Holman gave $500 here and $2,600 there for larger contracts and more complex political campaigns. In the end, nearly every one Holman gave political campaign donations to ended up hiring his firm.
In Jackson Township, Jackson GOP Chairman Todd Porter defended the action of giving Holman’s firm and other politically connected firms huge contracts.
After an Ocean County GOP convention at the TR Hotel, Porter said, “That’s just the way it is, of course, we’re going to hire professionals who are aligned with the party and who are going to do things our way.”
Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina this year said the depth of political patronage and pay to play go much further than just hiring the right guys. Sometimes, you have to give a public contract to somebody you don’t like to keep peace within the political party.
“I met with Frankie (Holman) and I told him we need to start giving everyone a piece of the pie,” Reina told Shore News Network after a rift was forming in the Republican party in Ocean County. “If we give each guy a piece of the pie (political contracts), we can solve all these problems and bring the party back together. Frankie agreed, so that’s what I’m doing.”
In return for his loyal political wheeling and dealing, Holman awarded Reina with a highly coveted position within the Ocean County Republican Party executive board when he put him on the candidate screening committee this spring. Holman is now, according to credible sources within the party going one step further. Despite Reina being the focus of a wrongful termination lawsuit, a federal lawsuit from the U.S. Attorney General and several religious discrimination lawsuits, Holman and Freeholder Virginia Haines are running interference for Reina’s reappointment in January.
Reina was brought in to a $100,000 job running the county’s bridge department by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, a job which today, he remains unqualified for. Reina’s contract expires in December and there are some who don’t want him reappointed. Not reappointing Reina would be bad for Holman receives over $85,000 annually from Reina as the auditor of the township and the municipal utility authority.
Freeholder Gerry Little, another pawn of the political party is in charge of that reappointment and will most likely succumb to the political pressures of Holman and Reina. After all, Little is up for re-election in 2021. Punishment has been severe and swift for Ocean County Republicans who have gone against Holman’s crown. Little knows that. Little also knows Reina is being protected by the king and making a move against Reina’s ineffectiveness as a county employee means making a move against Holman and Haines.
Many leaders within the Ocean County GOP have expressed their frustration and contempt for how Holman runs the party. The once-powerful party has become weakened under Holman’s watch and many leaders are upset that Holman’s eye is on the prize of winning pay to play contracts and tagging big game out west. In times of crisis, Holman has been an absent leader in the party, often taking weeks off on hunting trips out west.
“I don’t think he even wants to be chairman,” one high ranking official said of Holman. “He was put up to this by Joe Buckalew (former GOP Chairman) and Holman lets Dasti and McGuckin run the party while Buckalew spends his time in Florida in a condominium with George Norcross.”