Days after recusing himself from a Planning Board hearing for prominent Lakewood developer, Flemming hosts fundraiser with private school developer at Jackson golf course he owns.
JACKSON, NJ – Jackson Township Councilman Marty Flemming, who also serves on the Jackson Township Planning Board, recused himself from a hearing in which an application by developer Mordechai Eichorn was being heard.
Flemming did not say why he was recusing himself, only citing a conflict of interest to board attorney Sean Gertner. Flemming is running for Mayor in November against incumbent Republican Michael Reina.
That was Monday.
On Thursday, Flemming hosted a political campaign fundraiser at the Pine Barrens Golf Club on South Hope Chapel Road. Admission to the cigar and scotch event was $300 in an email sent to pay-to-play professional firms, lawyers, engineers, and developers last week.
This week, after receiving little interest, Flemming lowered the price to $100 per ticket and expanded the planned closed event to include the public.
A few dozen people showed up for the fundraiser, which is estimated to have raised at least $10,000 for Flemming’s team. One of those people at the reception was Mordechai Eichorn, owner of the golf course and a developer who has come under fire several times for his Jackson projects.
Flemming was seen at the event sitting and talking with Eichorn, the developer who is also building the Jackson Trails residential development just down the street from the golf course and two projects to build seven private schools on Leesville Road.
Prior to the lavish fundraiser at the Pinelands Country Club, Flemming and his team had accused Mayor Michael Reina of ‘selling out’ to the Orthodox Jewish community in Jackson. On Thursday, it was Flemming who hosted Eichorn and Mordechai Burnstein of the Jackson Eruv Association at his private political rally.
Complete with Kosher alcoholic beverages, Flemming entertained Eichorn and Burnstein of the Jackson Eruv Association in an attempt to lobby the support of the anticipated Orthodox Jewish community’s bloc vote in November’s election.
About 60 other guests were in attendance, including friends and family members of the three candidates on Flemming’s slate.
“Yes, I was there,” Eichorn said today. “As a person with a large financial investment in the future of Jackson, I felt it was necessary to meet Mr. Flemming and his team to hear about their plans for the township.”
Eichorn declined to speak about the topics discussed between himself and Flemming at the event, in which the two spent nearly an hour together discussing Jackson topics, according to others inside the room.
Last week, Flemming called for unity between diverse communities of Jackson.
Flemming’s decision to recuse himself from Eichorn’s application to build three private schools on Leesville Road was a mystery to many until today. Knowing he was politically lobbying Eichorn for financial and voter support during his mayoral campaign would have put Flemming in an uncomfortable and possibly legal and ethical situation had he participated in Monday’s hearing.
It is not sure at this point whether or not Eichorn paid his $300 campaign contribution to attend the event or whether he received a complimentary admission from Flemming. According to New Jersey’s election laws, donations under $301 do not need to report individually to the state.
Mordechai Burnstein, the head of the Jackson Eruv Association, also said he was invited to the event.
“This is a tough election for me,” Burnstein said. “I have friends on both sides, and I came to support Marty as we served together on the planning board. We’re not sure where the vote is going this year and our community is very interested in learning what both slates of candidates have to say about the town’s future.”
Jackson Mayor Michael Reina also refused to comment on the event after associates of Flemming have spread on social media that he was working with the Orthodox Jewish community.
“It wasn’t my event,” Reina said. “I have no idea who was there or why.”
Reina reminded that he is running against Flemming in the election in November.
Sources within the Glory-Flemming faction aligned behind the hardware store owner and Clara Glory, a delicatessen operator in Jackson said the invitation of Eichorn and Burnstein left them bewildered, but not as much as hosting the event at Eichorn’s golf course while he has open applications before Flemming’s planning board.
That source, a local business owner, asked not to be identified because of the possible political backlash to his business.
Burnstein today said the Orthodox Jewish community most likely will vote together in November, but at this point, would not say which candidate the community is favoring at this time,
“We have spoken to both sides, of course,” Burnstein said. “But, to say we’re ‘in bed’ with either side is just not true. We have a month to figure this out.”
What is certain is that Flemming, who is behind in the polls right now, needs the Orthodox Jewish bloc vote to defeat Reina in an election that could have a historically low voter turnout in Jackson. After discovering the reality last week, Flemming’s team offered a gesture of community togetherness and cooperation after taking an initial hard stance publicly about the need for ‘homegrown’ leadership.
“What we do know is that every vote will count this year,” Burnstein added.
Eichorn did, however confirm that earlier this year, he was approached by Flemming regarding his private school project. He said Flemming suggested that he build a large residential development instead of the three private schools. Eichorn said he was open to the idea but was not in love with it. In the end, the board rejected Flemming’s proposal to build a high-density residential project at the site.
Shore News Network reached out to the Flemming campaign today and did not receive a reply.