After a nearly four year investigation, the sitting mayor of a Burlington County municipality was fined $200 by the New Jersey Local Finance Board (LFB) for having twice violated the Local Government Ethics Law (LGEL). The fines arose out of the mayor’s connection to a Political Action Committee that operated out of the law office of the Township’s attorney.
In its June 14, 2018 Notice of Violation, the Local Finance Board–the chief enforcer of the LGEL–found that during 2014 Delran Township Mayor Ken Paris was employed by and received monetary compensation from the Initiate Civil Empowerment Political Action Committee (ICE PAC) while Douglas Long, who was law partners with ICE PAC treasurer Albert Marmero, served as Delran’s municipal attorney. The Notice of Violation noted that Paris nominated Long to be Delran’s attorney.
The LFB determined that Paris, who was “being paid by the ICE PAC while the township solicitor was partners in a law firm with the treasurer of the ICE PAC” engaged “in a business, transaction, or professional activity which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest.” In a related matter, the LFB determined that Paris committed another violation of the LGEL by failing to report the $5,200 he received from the ICE PAC on his 2015 Financial Disclosure Statement.
The LFB assessed a $100 fine for each violation, for a total of $200, and informed Mayor Paris of his right to contest the findings and the fines by requesting an administrative hearing. The LFB’s final decision will not be issued until after Mayor Paris, if he chooses to contest the findings and the fines, has had his case heard by an Administrative Law Judge.
By law, local government officials can be fined between $100 and $500 for each LGEL violations. The ethics complaint that resulted in the LFB’s determination was filed on September 18, 2014 by John Paff and the New Jersey Libertarian Party.