On December 13, 2017, the Local Finance Board (LFB) dismissed a December 29, 2013 ethics complaint the New Jersey Libertarian Party and I filed against then Montvale Borough (Bergen County) Mayor Roger J. Fyfe. After a four-year investigation, the LFB, the principal enforcer of New Jersey’s Local Government Ethics Law (LGEL), decided that because a court had previously determined that the former mayor apparently engaged in a conflict of interest, the ethics charge should be dismissed because the facts had already “been decided as part of broader litigation.”
Underlying the ethics complaint was a December 27, 2013 article in The Record. According to the article, Bergen County Judge Lisa Perez Friscia ruled that Fyfe was “intricately involved” in an ordinance that transferred the borough’s Department of Public Works to a newly created, shared-service public works department where “Fyfe’s brother-in-law was among the first hires.” According to our complaint’s summary, as set forth in the LFB’s dismissal letter, Fyfe “failed to disclose that [he] had made a referral to the newly created entity to hire [Fyfe’s] brother-in-law, who was ultimately hired by the Pascack Valley DPW.”
Despite what appears to be a clear and provable conflict of interest, the LFB stated that because a court had already found that Fyfe had participated in a matter in which he was conflicted, it would somehow be wrong to punish him for that conflict. Under state law, the LFB is empowered to issue fines of between $100 and $500 against local government officers and employees who violate the LGEL but chose not to do so in this instance.