Leaked Email: The check that went from bad to good
In the spring of 2015, a campaign consultant to then Freeholder Gail Phoebus told the Assembly candidate to return the check of an attorney who was connected to the failed solar project in Sussex County:
Not only did she send back the money, Freeholder Phoebus criticized the law firm who had sent it:
"It's all the same people that dug the hole, and every time I ask for a clear, third-party fresh set of eyes, they throw in somebody else that appears out of the past. How many times can you recycle the same names? Are they protecting specific people, or are they protecting the county?” (NJ Herald, March 28, 2015)
"Mr. Weinstein had clear conflicts of interest. Far from recommending ‘independent' counsel to guide us through a complex negotiation, you led us to the partner of the attorney who shares responsibility with you for failing to obtain a performance bond... All of this raises serious questions. (While) Mr. Weinstein negotiated the solar project settlement and rendered advice to the freeholder board, whose interests was he serving”? (NJ Herald, March 28, 2015)
Fast forward to the 2016 re-election bid of Phoebus ally Freeholder George Graham. Graham takes a $2,000.00 check from the same law firm Phoebus criticized and then in July, after having safely won the GOP primary, Graham hands the same law firm a no-bid contract.
...in September 2014, the county freeholder board appointed Weinstein as special counsel to guide it through that process.
The appointment of Weinstein -- whose law partner, John Cantalupo, had been on retainer to the county since 2011 for legal services related to county-backed bonds issued on the solar project -- was criticized last year by then-Freeholder Gail Phoebus, now a state assemblywoman, who called it a conflict of interest.
While offering praise for Wednesday's presentation, Roseann Salanitri -- also of Sandyston -- tempered her praise with criticism over the fact that a large portion of it was given by Weinstein.
"He was the same counsel that represented us on (last year's) settlement, and that settlement contained ‘hold harmless' clauses for just about everybody and their grandmother," Salanitri said. "I don't know Mr. Weinstein and have nothing against him personally, but I believe this presentation is not as credible as it could have been if it had been conducted by someone (else)." (NJ Herald, July 29, 2016)
Freeholder Director George Graham defended the appointment of Weinstein, saying: "He's the only one who has institutional knowledge after all the other people who ran out the door." (NJ Herald, July 29, 2016)
Why did Freeholder George Graham engineer a no-bid contract for a law firm that he and then Freeholder Gail Phoebus identified as being at the very heart of the solar scam that has cost Sussex taxpayers upwards of $30 million? And why has Phoebus, who was so critical of the law firm in 2015, why has she been mute in 2016-2017 and hasn't raised a single note of protest?