The battle over control over New Jersey’s premier Republican organization ended eleven days ago, but the fight continues with no sign of unity anytime soon.
An attorney representing the new Ocean County GOP chairman, George Gilmore, notified former party officials on Monday, including his predecessor, Frank Holman, that he “anticipates filing litigation” over the alleged removal of documents, emails and financial records.
John M. Carbone told Holman, Ocean County Commissioner Virginia Haines and others that they should preserve all paper and electronic documents, including personal emails and text messages.
Gilmore reclaimed the party leadership post held from 1996 to 2019 after winning a bitter fight against Sheriff Michael Mastronardy by thirteen votes after Holman declined to seek re-election.
He also wants to see emails and text messages that Holman sent and received during this three years as county chairman. Carbone’s letter asked for records that were on his personal and business devices a well.
The litigation hold letter follows a demand for the return of records Carbone sent to Haines and the party’s former executive director, Pat Lane, on July 13.
Gilmore has Haines and Lane were “observed and engaged in unauthorized, secretive and unlawful late-night entries” to the Ocean GOP headquarters and claims they “engaged in the destruction” and removal of records and documents.
One day earlier, POLITICO reported that Haines and Lane removed items from the headquarters hours after Gilmore won the post. But a Haines ally familiar with the events but not authorized to speak publicly, says that Gilmore was present when the two arrived at the party office and witnessed them
It’s not immediately clear that Haines’ presence was improper. She is the Republican state committeewoman from Ocean County and the county organization office is also her campaign headquarters.
Still, the matter could wind up in court.
“These actions, inactions and activities may well impar and impede the Ocean County Republican Organization,” Carbone wrote.
Carbone also warned Haines and Lane that they could be in violation of state record tampering laws.
What Gilmore appears to want, the first letter shows, is who, if anyone, directed the removal of records ad where they are presently, if anywhere.
Editor’s note: Gilmore did not immediately respond to an 11:21 PM email seeking comment. Given the late hour and short runway for a response, the New Jersey Globe will add Gilmore’s comment to this story at a later time, if he chooses to provide one.