|Mayor Don Purdy|
GallowayTwpNews.com was able to confirm the filing of both complaints as well as the allegations listed in the filings. Due to the complexity of each complaint, we are reporting the details of each complaint separately.
The first complaint alleges a personal business relationship with the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund and accepting insurance payment proceeds for private services while Officially conducting business on behalf of Galloway Township with the same company.
On August 13, 2013, representatives of the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund attended the Galloway Township Council meeting for a presentation, requesting Council to renew their contract with the ACJIF. Mayor Don Purdy participated in that public discussion.
Click here for Part One of the Audio for Purdy Discussion:
Click here for Part Two of the Audio for Purdy Discussion:
On August 31, 2013, the first complaint filed by Paff alleged, "Between 2010 and 2013, Purdy Collision, LLC which is, on information and belief, owned and/or controlled by Mayor Don Purdy and/or his family, received insurance claim proceeds paid out by the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund. Mayor Purdy was present at the August 13, 2013 closed Galloway Township Council meeting where discussion on "Research on Insurance and the Joint Insurance Fund" took place."
Paff further alleged, "Mayor Purdy was present at the August 13, 2013 public Galloway Township Council meeting where Resolution 231-13, which was added to the agenda immediately after the closed session terminated, was passed. Resolution 231-13 renewed Galloway Township's membership in the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund. Purdy voted in favor of having Resolution 231-13 added to the agenda but abstained from the vote pass that resolution."
Paff inserted in his complaint to the LFB, "Frankly, given the Board's dismissals in LFB-11-147 and LFB-11-149 (Harper) compared to its decision to levy a $500 fine in LFB-12-012 (Costa), it is difficult for me to interpret which actions do and do not violate the LGEL. Accordingly, when I perceive a possible violation, as I do here, I will bring it in the form of a complaint in hopes that the Board, when issuing its decision, will help clarify the LGEL's contours."
Paff further stated in his complaint to the LFB, "I assert that there was a violation of the LGEL when Mayor Purdy participated in a closed session discussion about renewing a contract with an insurer that did and does business with a company Mayor Purdy owns or controls. If the Local Finance Board excuses this conduct, it will establish a precedent that it is permissible for a local government officer to discuss (and perhaps even advocate for) a governmental contract with a vendor with which the official does business provided that the officer formally abstains from the vote that approves the contract."
Through investigations, GallowayTwpNews.com was able to verify and confirm, on September 6, 2013, Township Clerk TC Kay confirmed to GallowayTwpNews.com that Purdy abstained from the vote on August 13, 2013 because of a conflict between Mayor Don Purdy and the ACJIF. Kay confirmed Purdy's privately owned business receives money from the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund for various services. Purdy verified same with Township Solicitor Michael Fitzgerald only moments before the vote was to occur, as Purdy was told by Fitzgerald, he should have abstained.
GallowayTwpNews.com submitted an Open Public Records Request to the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund (JIF), requesting all payments made to Purdy and/or his family and private businesses. The JIF released a Vendor History showing payments made to Purdy Collision from 2010 - 2013. The payments were made based on the business Purdy conducted with two municipalities, Ocean City and Egg Harbor Township.
Over the four years, Purdy collected a total of $79,408.53 from the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund. In 2010 Purdy made $20,624.00, in 2011 Purdy made $11,487.43, in 2012 Purdy made $39,855.95 and so far in 2013 Purdy has made $7,441.15.
GallowayTwpNews.com also obtained through OPRA (see below), the 2012 Agreement for "Risk Management Consultant" with the ACJIF and the Township of Galloway that Mayor Don Purdy not only voted for, but also executed the agreement on behalf of Galloway Township on January 31, 2012. Purdy in 2012 was accepting money from the ACJIF for his personal business of Purdy Collision.
In 2013, the agreement which sparked this Ethics Complaint, was signed by Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola because of Purdy's admission to a conflict with the ACJIF.
On December 13, 2011, during the same time Purdy was receiving money from the ACJIF, Purdy signed another contract on behalf of Galloway Township with the ACJIF for the 2012 Retrospective Program (see below). Purdy in 2011 was accepting money from the Atlantic County Joint Insurance Fund being paid to his private business of Purdy Collision.
John Paff stated to GallowayTwpNews.com that he wasn't being accusatory towards Purdy, but rather his position is that "the ethics rules are vague and the ethics decisions are often contradictory and this confusion makes it difficult for government officials to know where the line is between unethical and permissible conduct and that the only way I know of to clarify and brighten that line is through filing of complaints. In sum, this isn't a vendetta against Purdy but rather an attempt to obtain a better understanding of the contours of the ethics law."
Atlantic County Joint Insurance fund did not return our request for comment. GallowayTwpNews.com also submitted a request for comment to Mayor Don Purdy, which has not been returned by time of publication.
GallowayTwpNew.com Publisher spoke with members of the Local Finance Board on October 2, 2013, as the Publisher was listed by the complainant as a Fact Witness regarding this complaint due to our former relationship with the Township of Galloway as an employee with pertinent information and investigative findings.
GallowayTwpNews.com will report the further facts and outcome of the case, as we obtain that information and permitted to be released.