New Jersey’s Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards dismissed two complaints filed against Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi at the body’s Tuesday meeting.
One complaint accused Schepisi of misusing public funds in a mailer the assemblywoman sends to new constituents in her district.
The letter directs voters to her website, which, at the time of the complaint, featured large donation and volunteer buttons.
The use of public funds is prohibited for campaign purposes. The letter was sent on official letterhead.
Schepisi said that the website’s appearance at the time was the result of “a pure human error.” In an affidavit, an IT consultant working for Schepisi said the appearance of the website was caused by a malfunctioning URL redirect that sent visitors of HollySchepisi.com to the site instead of her page on the Assembly Republican website.
But while the consultant also claimed that the incorrect version of the site had not been previously used, the version of the site featuring the donation and volunteer buttons had pushed online sometime between May 22 and July 11, 2015 and had remained online until at least March 29, 2018, according to archived versions of the website.
The committee did not explore those discrepancies, instead relying on Schepisi’s testimony that no she received no online donations or volunteers through the site for several months before the error’s correction to arrive at its verdict.
Former Assemblywoman Joan Quigley was the only member of the committee who cast aspersions on that claim, but she agreed with the board’s other members about any potential violation resulting from the letter being diminutive.
The committee found there was probable cause for an ethical violation after accepting jurisdiction for the complaint, but the body dismissed the complaint because any gains from the overstep would have been too minor to mean anything.
“No harm, no foul,” Quigley said.
The other complaint, which accused Schepisi of violating conflict of interest rules, representing a client forbidden to legislators by state statute and improperly filling out her financial disclosure form, came and went without much debate.
The committee researcher responsible for presenting research on the complaint’s charges recommended the committee take jurisdiction of the complaint, a procedural move, and dismiss it for lack of probable cause, and the body did just that.