There’s been no shortage of bad news for Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton in recent weeks.
Roughly two weeks ago, an appellate court reinstated a lawsuit alleging Thornton retaliated against Kim Allen, a two-term purchasing agent for the county who was not reappointed after she raised concerns over the county hiring a law firm without issuing a request for proposals as required by law.
Allen further claimed County Counsel Jeff Lindsay, who was then director of the county’s human resources department, sought to allow a law firm he preferred to amend its bid. Such amendments are disallowed by state law.
The suit alleged similar conduct on behalf of county nursing home administrator Linda Thornton, who is Thornton’s wife.
“Often those who act as the conscience of the community are disfavored: There was a reason Pinocchio bludgeoned Jiminy Cricket with a hammer,” the judges wrote in their 2-1 decision reinstating Allen’s suit.
The appellate court’s decision was first reported by the Press of Atlantic City.
The 70-odd-year-old lawmaker faced allegations of nepotism during a freeholder meeting in early July when the board voted in favor of two censures against Freeholder Marie Hayes, a fellow Republican.
Hayes claimed she was being retaliated against because she voted against merging the positions of board clerk and county administrator. The vote passed 3-2, and both positions are now held by Beth Bozzelli, who filed a retaliation claim against Hayes over her vote on the matter.
Hayes claimed the censures were retaliation for that and for her refusal to vote for raises for Thornton’s stepson.
Thornton and Hayes are both seeking re-election this year, though they declined to say whether they would run as a team following the censures in early July.
Most recently, Thornton had to chide Freeholder Will Morey for driving across in a go-kart a recently-renovated bridge that had yet to be reopened to the public, the Cape May County Herald reported.
The Townsend Inlet Bridge reopened two months late.