The decision by the Passaic County Board of Freeholders not to reappoint Bill Pascrell III as county counsel will have consequences, according to several Democrats who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Pascrell, the head of a top Trenton lobbying firm and the son of Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-Paterson), was replaced last week after holding the post for 21 years.
The decision to take out Pascrell would not have happened without the approval of Passaic County Democratic chairman John Currie, sources familiar with the decision-making process in Passaic County told the New Jersey Globe.
The sudden intra-party feud comes just as Currie finds himself in a fight to retain the Democratic state chairmanship later this year. Essex County Democratic chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. has more publicly committed votes than Currie.
The new Passaic clash now puts a target on the back of Keith Furlong, a top Currie lieutenant and the husband of Hudson County prosecutor Esther Suarez.
Furlong is the spokesman for Passaic County. He is also an insurance advisor with Fairview Insurance Agency Associates, a politically influential firm that wrestled away the Passaic County insurance contract after many years with Brown & Brown Insurance.
That potentially forces Freeholder director John Bartlett and his colleagues to defend the removal of Pascrell and not Furlong, another part-timer who at least has the appearance of a conflict as the county’s spokesman while one of his personal business interests is with lucrative contact with Passaic County. Furlong is not a county employee, but instead handles media relations under a contract awarded by the freeholders to a private company.
Neighboring counties like Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Morris have full-time public information officers. Furlong, who also works as a political consultant, as vice president of Catania Consulting Group, and as the owner of DIG Insurance Group, has a contract with Passaic County.