Howell Candidates Get Campaign Check from Lakewood Zoning Board Attorney

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HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ – Evelyn O’Donnell and Suzanne Brennan, both running for political office in Howell Township have accepted and reported a pay-to-play qualifying campaign contribution from Jerry Dasti, a partner in the law firm of Dasti, Murphy and McGuckin.  Dasti currently serves as the official attorney of the Lakewood Township Zoning Board.   In court proceedings, the zoning board is represented by Kelsey A. McGuckin, daughter or firm partner Gregory P. McGuckin.

Dasti earns $71,000 annually for his work representing the Lakewood Township Zoning Board.  His firm receives over $3,000,000 annually in public pay-to-play contracts.

The firm is also paid by Howell Township approximately $25,000 annually.

Dasti made a $500 campaign donation to the O’Donnell & Brennan campaign, reported by the candidates in their latest campaign finance election report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission this week.  Dasti’s law firm was recently charged in Toms River for illegal hiring practices and violations of New Jersey election commission pay to play laws.

In 2019, McGuckin was the lone dissenter in a bid to deny Jackson Trails, an Orthodox Jewish development project planned for South Hope Chapel Road in Jackson.  McGuckin, who then served as the township’s planning board attorney in Jackson advised the board against denying the application submitted by Jackson Trails. The board eventually discarded McGuckin’s advice.

Today, it was learned that a Political Action Committee, Ocean County Strong, run out of the offices of prominent Jackson Township land use attorney Ray Shea donated $5,000 to the O’Donnel & Brennan Campaign.  One of the contributors to that PAC was Re/Max on the Move Realty, the real estate firm based in Lakewood that is connected to the Jackson Trails project.  Currently that project is tied in up state and federal courts after a motion by McGuckin last week to dismiss the case, who now serves as Jackson Township’s lead attorney, was defeated in federal court.

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McGuckin and Dasti’s firm has served as the legal counsel for the Lakewood Planning board for many years now and has advised and overseen the rampant overdevelopment of that growing city.

We reached out to the campaign to discuss their campaign contributions from the Dasti firm and Ocean County Strong but neither candidate responded.

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