October 13, 2006

Freeholder Scanlon's sister profited from $2M phone system

Freeholder Debra Scanlon’s sister was allegedly involved in a $2 million no-bid contract awarded in a business deal that was not conducted in public view.

The meeting minutes of the regular meeting held on January 22, 2004 show that freeholder Scanlon was present. However, when it came time to vote for a $1,907,739.65 no-bid contract awarded to Consultedge, in which her sister, Diane Papst, is reported to have been the sales rep, she left the room when the vote was taken and she was marked not present. (view resolution by clicking here)

On August 23, 2004 it was Chairwoman Scanlon who moved Bond Ordinance No. 578-2003 forward which put county taxpayers in debt for over 28-million dollars for various improvements in which her sisters deal was lumped in with. (view bond ordinance by clicking here)

Because the freeholder meeting minutes do not show any discussion of this no bid contract, I tried to gain insight into this $2 million deal through the Open Public Records Act.

Several responses to my requests for records added up to the county wanting to charge $360.95 dollars for the pertinent documents. The few I did receive had all the employee names redacted.

Not only was this business conducted out of public view but it looks like this deal wasn’t conducted in the other freeholder’s view either. It is possible that the other freeholders had no clue as to Scanlon’s sister’s involvement and that this was another expenditure of county taxpayer dollars that was cooked up at Charlotte DeFilippo’s dining room table. This shines more light on the fact that freeholders vote yes on any matter that makes it onto their agenda with no questions asked.

It’s also possible that there was nothing illegal about this. Unethical sure, but this being New Jersey, ethics isn't something politicians are required to have. However, since I can’t follow the dollar here or get a freeholder, never mind a county employee on their new $2 million phone system to answer to this, I’ll ask the State Commission of Investigation to do it. If the state chooses to investigate, the county can charge them $360.95 for the privilege of knowing how a freeholder’s sister can profit from a multi-million dollar no-bid contract without her name ever being mentioned to the taxpayers or even the freeholders.

(view county clerks OPRA responses by clicking here)