Burlco Battle Over OPRA Request

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

BurlingtonCoNorthTopoBurlington County’s freeholder race is always interesting, Save Jerseyans, and this year is no different with competitive races up-and-down the ballot, a substitution on the GOP side, and a bruising congressional contest on top of it all. 

Republicans, whose narrow 3-2 control of the board hangs in the balance, aren’t leaving anything to chance despite a positive tax record and favorable electoral cycle. Demographic changes in the sprawling South Jersey county continue to trend Democratic. Nothing can be left to chance.

On Friday, the GOP loudly demanded that Democrat candidate Tom Pullion reimburse taxpayers for attorney’s fees incurred in litigation, filed by a GOP researcher, where the town ultimately settled for almost $2,000 in fees.

The complainant had accused the municipality of violating violating the Open Public Records Act (OPRA); specifically, Republicans alleged that the town had, among other things, failed to meet statutory deadlines and tried to charge exorbitant production fees.

“Given Tom Pullion’s record of more than doubling property taxes, jacking up spending and voting to create or increase more than 100 fees on local home and business owners, it’s no surprise that he wouldn’t want information about his anti-taxpayer record on Township Committee to be made public,” said Chris Russell, veteran political consultant and spokesman for the Burlington County GOP.  “But the Township you run violating state law to block access to those records to help your own campaign is inexcusable.”

Background: the Burlco GOP was dealt a setback in 2012 during the Obama reelection wave when Democrats Joanne Schwartz and Aimee Belgard (an Edgewater council member prior to her county gig and current bid for Congress) landed seats on the Freeholder Board; POTUS carried the county by 18-points (despite Chris Christie carrying it by 26-points just one year later).