Alternative Energy scam reported on American Greed

To give our readers an idea of just how easy it is for an "alternative" energy scam to cheat taxpayers, take a look at this episode of American Greed.

The Crabb-Bilik whisper campaign

In 2004, a newcomer named Steve Oroho ran for Freeholder against the county insiders and upended the sitting establishment.  They ran the usual gossip campaign against him.  Gossip is big in Sussex County where campaigns for public office are often conducted along the lines of an election for king and queen of a high school prom.

In 2004, the whisper campaign of malignant gossip spread around dirt on Steve Oroho.  They tried to say that he was "stupid" -- ignoring the fact that Oroho had been the Senior Financial Officer at a Fortune 500 company.  Then they tried class warfare and made him out to be a wealthy elitist in a top hat (like the man off the Monopoly board) when, in fact, he was the hard working son of middle class Irish-American parents. 

Gossip and lies, lies and gossip.  That's the way of the Sussex County whisper campaign.

Franklin Borough and Hardyston Township are the latest victims of the Sussex County whisper campaign.  In 2004, they heard all the lies about Steve Oroho. This year, they are being subjected to a different set of lies.

Freeholder Phil Crabb has been working the fire houses on behalf of Marie Bilik and the solar bailout.  Now that the County's top bureaucrats have all called it quits, Crabb wants to make sure that the solar bailout stays in place.  Crabb wants to make sure that consultants like Stephen Pearlman and Gabel Associates keep stuffing their pockets with the property tax dollars of Sussex County taxpayers.

Crabb wants to make sure that the Wall Streeters who made millions screwing up the project don't have to worry about being held accountable, because Crabb signed a statement saying that they wouldn't.  Crabb wants to make sure that the gag order (what he calls a "non-disparagement clause") is enforced, so that these Wall Street predators can go on and pitch their business to the next suckers and nobody will be the wiser.

Crabb needs Bilik because he needs to protect his friends.


Bilik campaign attacks Alison McHose

In 2003, Alison Littell McHose gave up a full-time job to serve the people of the 24th Legislative District.  Legislators receive only a part-time salary of $49,000. 

During the 12 years she's held office, McHose has become known as an independent conservative voice for reform in Trenton -- crossing the aisle to work with reformers of both parties to pass legislation like the Party Democracy Act.  Time and again, reforms in Trenton began with McHose's lone voice.


In January, McHose announced that she would be stepping aside and would not be running for re-election.  The reason for her departure was that her two sons are approaching college age so she had decided to work full-time again as the administrator of Franklin Borough.  McHose and her husband, a U.S. Army Sergeant who served three tours in the war on terror and just returned home from Afghanistan, also have a young daughter.

Marie Bilik's campaign chairman is Molly Whilesmith, a Sparta councilwoman and former mayor.  Until recently, Whilesmith was a Democrat.  Now she claims to be a Republican, so we were surprised when she posted a link on her Facebook page to a letter to the editor by a leftist Democrat operative that attacks Alison McHose for seeking full-time work to stay close to home.

The writer takes a reform championed by Alison McHose and Parker Space and then lies about it.  McHose and Space successfully pushed legislation that ended the ability of an elected office holder from retiring and collecting a state pension while collecting a public salary.  It closed the loophole on double-dipping so that an elected official can no longer do both.

The writer is a clever liar who conflates this reform with an elected official having a second working income from a public source.  The loophole McHose and Space closed has to do with pension income and not holding a second source of public income.   That would take separate legislation and all such attempts have been blocked by the Democrats who control the Legislature.

In Alison McHose's case, she is not running for re-election and is temporarily holding two public positions, as full-time administrator and part-time legislator, only long enough for the people to choose her replacement at a primary held on June 2nd.  As was reported in the Herald and elsewhere, McHose had wanted to resign from the Assembly  immediately upon taking her new position.  However, with memories of the controversies surrounding Gary Chiusano's departure from the Assembly in 2013 and the opposition to county conventions voiced by the Herald and others, McHose decided to remain in office until the voters had their say in an election.

For this McHose is being attacked by Molly Whilesmith, the chairman of Marie Bilik's campaign.

Many elected officials do have a second working income from a public source.  Take the Bilik campaign's Molly Whilesmith as an example.  She has attended public meetings in municipality after municipality and lobbied on behalf of a corporation that sells its services to county and local governments.  In her work, Whilesmith is often accompanied by Wendy Molner, another Bilik campaign person and the Vice President for Government Relations of Concord Engineering/ Concord Energy.  Official government minutes are available off the Internet showing the role the two play.

Curiously however, while Molly Whilesmith's relationship with this energy vendor is demonstrable from local government documents, she failed to record it on her state mandated Financial Disclosure Statements for 2014 or 2015, covering her activities as Mayor, Member of Council, and Member of the Planning Board.

Looks like Mayor Whilesmith has some explaining to do.


Bilik's photo-shop campaign

Assembly candidate Marie Bilik lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and is employed by a Washington, DC lobby group.  Bilik travels 4 1/2 hours back and forth to New Jersey on the weekends. 

This is an obvious problem for her political campaign for elected office in Sussex, Warren, and Morris counties.  She's not around and it shows.

Take a look at her campaign website.  Why would a candidate who lived in Sussex County need to photo-shop her image onto a background of High Point?  

Why would a candidate who lived in New Jersey need to photo-shop her image onto a background of the State House in Trenton?

If Bilik was around, she would do what everyone else who lives in Sussex County does when they want to take their photo at High Point -- drive to High Point and take a photograph. 

You can't find a single photograph taken in the 24th District on Bilik's website.

And it doesn't help matters that she's hired a Florida campaign consulting group to do her opposition research, design her website, and run her campaign.

For a campaign that complains about consultants so much the Bilik campaign is certainly loaded with them.  There's an opposition researcher from Florida, a web designer from Florida, a campaign consultant from Florida, and a couple energy company consultant/lobbyists from New Jersey.  And then there's the candidate herself,  who works for a Washington, DC area lobby group.


Give us our money back, Bernie

Bernie Re is Sussex County's longtime, well paid Treasurer.  The finance officer of Sussex County.  Bernie Re pockets $148,060 every year, plus benefits, health care, and a nice fat pension when he retires, aged 62, this year.

The average property taxpayer, doesn't have a pension, or paid benefits, or free health care.  And if he or she retires before 66 on Social Security, it is subject to a penalty.  Oh, and the average family income (husband and wife together) in Sussex County is just $87,335. 

Bernie Re was one of three Sussex County bureaucrats who were part of the Sussex County Evaluation Team.  This is the committee that recommended to the Freeholder Board that they agree to the solar scheme.  These are the assurances, Bernie Re and the other bureaucrats made to the Board: 

"The SunLight/MasTec team possesses high quality management, installation capabilities, and sound solar development experience.  In addition, the SunLight/MasTec proposal provides Sussex benefits in the following key areas:

- It provides substantial direct energy cost savings;

- It provides the Local Units the potential for additional savings through the sharing of revenues from the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and other environmental benefits;

- Due to SunLight/MasTec's proposed capital investment, which reduces the required size of the Authority bonds, it provides a strong level of protection for Sussex from financial risk;

- It provided additional financial protection for Sussex in the form of a debt service reserve fund; and,

- It includes a restoration security providing for additional Local Unit protection at the end of contract.

Back in 2011, Bernie Re and the other county bureaucrats gave their assurances as professionals, their word, as men of honor.  Apparently his word isn't worth much and his professional standards are simply nonexistent. 

In today's New Jersey Herald, Bernie Re -- a man who Sussex County taxpayers have paid handsomely year after year -- essentially laughed in their faces and said "let the buyer beware".

Here is Bernie Re's exact quote: 

Re, though, acknowledged that he had been upset by the political storm surrounding the solar issue. He said county officials provided thorough information and that decisions were always up to the freeholders.

“Elected officials have a job to do. Nobody put a gun to anybody's head,” Re said.

"Nobody put a gun to anybody's head."  Isn't that what scammer Bernie Madoff said about his victims?  Yes, and scammer Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street himself, said it too.  Isn't that what every scumbag scammer says?

Yes, elected officials do have a job to do.  They should have been better judges of character in selecting the county's top bureaucrats.

We've just been through tax time.  Imagine if something was really wrong and you got audited and the person who you trusted to advise you on preparing your taxes said, "Nobody put a gun to anybody's head." 

Of course, that wouldn't happen because the IRS holds the tax preparer to account.  Unfortunately, the majority on the Sussex County Freeholder Board of Crabb, Vohden, and Mudrick will not be holding Bernie Re to account.  If they did hold him to account, they would ask for their money back for the years 2011 through 2015.

Bernie Re will soon be retiring.  Laughing at the taxpayers.  Laughing all the way to the bank.  "My advice was crap," but they still paid me.  "The Freeholders should have never trusted a thing I wrote  or said, ha, ha... but they still paid me."

But there still is something we can do to make sure that a lesson is learned and that others with the same professional attitudes as Bernie Re holds are not allowed to prey on people who look at their credentials and forget to examine their character.  We can file a professional complaint against Bernie Re. 

Filing a complaint cannot undo what Bernie Re did to the taxpayers of Sussex County.  But it will stand as a rebuke to every financial officer who says of the people he is supposed to provide honest advice, "Nobody put a gun to anybody's head."