(Trenton) — Today, the Vice Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee is calling attention to disturbing incidences of sexual harassment and alleged corruption that are now plaguing the reelection campaign of Ocean County Freeholder Director, Republican Joseph Vicari.
The race presents an opportunity for voters in Ocean County, a perceived Republican Party stronghold, to root out an official who appears to be milking the system to benefit himself and his friends.
Recently, a bombshell investigative news report exposed Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph Vicari’s efforts to hire his longtime friend, contractor Joseph Veni, and then ignore the wanton sexual harassment of government workers. Notably, Mr. Veni sent sexually explicit emails from his government computer to female county employees, and displayed images of naked women and lewd sexual acts in his office. And, Vicari, who is named as a co-defendant in an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit against the county, allegedly took extraordinary measures to ensure that Mr. Veni would receive a lucrative government contract.
“The examples of sexual harassment that Mr. Vicari appears to have condoned — if not encouraged — in the workplace are appalling. His behavior is deplorable, and the stink of corruption in the contracting process is equally sickening. The taxpayers should be outraged that they are shouldering the burden for Mr. Vicari’s legal defense,” said Vice-Chair Lizette Delgado-Polanco, the highest ranking woman in the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
As longtime Republican Party loyalist, and now-retired Building and Grounds Supervisor William Santos detailed, Vicari engaged in a variety of behavior that is unethical and possibly illegal. Vicari pressured Santos to bypass standard legal protocols and grant the contract to Mr. Veni. Vicari then removed Santos from the committee that awarded county contracts. And Vicari is presumed to have narrowly tailored the original contract proposal to limit any competition that Mr. Veni’s consultancy might have faced.
Veni was ultimately awarded a taxpayer-funded position worth $150,000-a-year, and enjoyed preferential treatment in that role. He even billed the county $100 per hour for his conversations with Vicari. According to county records, Veni’s firm has received an estimated $1 million in funding since 2005.
“It is time for voters to reject the disgusting attitudes and practices of a bygone era, and move Ocean County forward. In Timothy E. Ryan — a longtime Ocean County resident and independent business owner — this community, which is so eager for change, has a refreshing opportunity to choose a capable alternative. I hope they seize it,” said Delgado-Polanco.
While Vicari is exploiting a loophole to collect both a pension and a paycheck for his Freeholder job, raking in over $150,000, Tim Ryan, by contrast, has pledged to donate his entire Freeholder salary to charity if elected.