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Random Notes on NJ Government

Former municipal prosecutor says that on-line financial disclosure filing requirement violates his privacy.

A lawyer who served as Dunellen Borough’s (Middlesex County) alternate municipal prosecutor is contesting a $100 fine levied against him for failing to file his Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS) electronically.  The lawyer, who filed his FDS on paper–which was rejected by state officials–claimed in a March 2, 2017 letter that “it is a violation of my rights to privacy to force me as a Municipal Prosecutor to register my private financial affairs online.”

The attorney in question is Paul R. Garelick of the Edison law firm of Lombardi and Lombardi.  As a Local Government Officer, as defined by the Local Government Ethics Law (LGEL), Garelick is required to file an annual statement setting forth basic financial information such as his family’s real estate holdings and sources of income in excess of $2,000 per year.  Disclosure of this information helps citizens detect and report conflicts of interest.  According to a February 17, 2017 letter to Garelick from Timothy J. Cunningham, who chairs the Local Finance Board–the lead agency enforcing the LGEL–the state transitioned from paper FDS filings to an on-line filing system in 2012 and that paper filings were no longer acceptable.

When Garelick refused to submit an electronic filing, Cunningham issued a February 24, 2017 Notice of Violation and assesses a $100 fine.  Garelick exercised his right to appeal and that matter is presently pending in the Office of Administrative Law awaiting a hearing.

Garelick no longer serves as Dunellen’s alternate municipal prosecutor.  His March 2, 2017 letter states that he was required to resign his position when a member of his law firm became a municipal court judge in Middlesex County.

By John Paff

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project