The Cape May County Board of Freeholders has scheduled a vote on Tuesday to censure Freeholder Marie Hayes for violating the county’s conflict of interest policy.
A source speaking on the condition of anonymity says that disciplinary measure comes after Hayes pressed colleagues on the all-Republican freeholder board regarding the employment of one of her close relatives.
Another source said that Hayes harassed and pushed some county government department heads to gain preferential treatment for her family member.
“Working conditions have been politicized,” the source said. “Some people had to leave.”
A second censure resolution takes corrective action after a workplace investigation of Hayes.
Hayes and longtime freeholder Gerald Thornton are seeking re-election this year against Democrats Stephen Barry and Elizabeth Casey.
There is speculation among Republicans that party leaders Hayes will be asked to resign, and that she and Thornton will run separate campaigns.
Thornton declined comment.
“I’m only going to say that the resolutions speak for themselves,” Thornton said. “I have nothing else to say.”
Cape May Republican County Chairman Marcus Karavan told the New Jersey Globe that he was unaware of any effort to drop Hayes from the ticket and referred a request for information about the proposed censure to the freeholders.
Discord among Cape May Republican began last year when Hayes and Freeholder Will Morey opposed the appointment of Beth Bozzelli as county administrator.
A divided Republican Party in Cape May could hurt the chances of ousting State Sen. Robert Andrzejczak (D-Middle) in a special Senate election this fall, as well as damage GOP hopes of picking up two Assembly seats.
“Recently I was informed that my name is on two censures. I am troubled by the course of conduct by Director Jerry Thornton and County Administrator Beth Bozelli. By reason of my vote regarding the merging of the Clerk of the Board and the Director of Operations into one position, both Freeholder Morey and I have been chastised,” Hayes said in a statement issued on Friday. “Subsequently Ms. Bozelli made the accusation that I voted against her having both positions as an act retaliation. What followed was me being the subject of an investigation to determine if my vote was driven by retaliation. I voted and stated my reasons very clearly on the record. I did not retaliate against Ms. Bozelli and emphatically deny these accusations. What ensued was a lack of due process. “
Hayes said she wants the state attorney general to investigate.
“Additionally I have been offered a lighter rebuke then a censure if I agreed to give up certain rights and make a public statement prepared by County Council Jeff Lindsay, who is Jerry Thornton’s stepson,” said Hayes. “I do not answer to the Director or County Counsel, I answer to the public that elected me. I look forward to pursuing my legal remedies in a court of law, if need be. I also look forward to reporting this matter to the Attorney General’s office and ask for a complete unbiased investigation of my concerns of official misconduct by others. “
This story was updated at 5:28 PM with comment from Hayes.