Ethics Complaint Filed Against Monmouth County Sheriff Questions Conflicts of Interest

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FREEHOLD, NJ – A formal ethics complaint has been filed against Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, who also serves as the Monmouth County Republican Party Chairman, by a former Monmouth County Freeholder.

Gary Rich, a former two-term Monmouth County Republican Freeholder and former mayor of Belmar alleges Golden’s dual role as both an elected law enforcement officer and the head of one of the state’s most powerful Republican political organizations is a clear conflict of interest.

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“Earlier this year, the public’s confidence in Golden and the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners was shaken when the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller (“OSC”} issued a report finding that the Board gave Golden a massive pay raise without a public hearing or a public vote. The pay raise and Golden’s conflicts of interest warrant scrutiny by your office,” Rich said in his complaint to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. “As you may know, Sheriff Golden moonlights as the chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Committee (“MCRC”} which exists as a creature of the laws of the State of New Jersey. Under state statute and the bylaws of the MCRC, this political office empowers him to assert
substantial power over municipal officials, municipal republican committees, all aspects of county government, and even county elected officials who he can reward with preferential ballot placement or punish with visual obscurity on the ballot.”

Rich says Golden’s role as campaign manager for the county commissioners in their annual elections is also a conflict of interest.

“As party boss and campaign manager, Golden completely controls the political fortunes of the very Board of County Commissioners who should be free to act independently as the governing body of the County but are actually beholden to him for their tenure in office,” Rich added. “All this influence supplements his power as the leading law enforcement executive in Monmouth County.”

Rich claims Golden “Has used those powers as chairman and campaign manager to eliminate local elected officials and even a popular state legislator.”

He claims Golden’s dual role in the county is in violation of the Monmouth County Code of Ethics, Section 4.01 H, “No officer … shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction, or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest.”

In the complaint, Rich is requesting the state to investigate Golden’s actions and to report their findings to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

The investigation could send waves throughout the Jersey Shore were in Ocean County, Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, Golden’s former boss when he served as a Toms River police officer, is now seeking to follow in his former underling’s footsteps and is running to become the Ocean County GOP Chairman. Mastronardy, if successful, would hold similar conflicting positions in Ocean County.

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