Home>Articles>OLS seeks to ‘silence a political critic’ by removing him from agenda distribution list, activist claims

The New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

OLS seeks to ‘silence a political critic’ by removing him from agenda distribution list, activist claims

Longtime environmental watchdog was taken off list by ‘higher ups,’ email shows

By David Wildstein, February 23 2023 5:25 pm

An environmental watchdog and whistleblower has been removed from a public agenda distribution list by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services that has sidestepped efforts to explain their decision for two days.

William Wolfe said he found out yesterday that he would no longer receive notices from the Senate Environment and Energy Committee in an email from Eric Hansen, the OLS senior research analyst who staffs the committee.

“You were removed from all the legislature’s distribution lists, I believe,” Hansen told Wolfe.  “The order came from above, and I’m not sure who originated it.”

Hansen declined to discuss the issue with the New Jersey Globe.

“That’s above my pay grade,” he said.  “I have to pass you off to my supervisor on that one.”

But the supervisor, Judith L. Horowitz, the Environment, Agriculture, Energy, and Natural Resources section chief, has yet to respond to multiple calls and emails yesterday and today.

Wolfe, a former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection official who headed the New Jersey Chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says he’s been on the agenda distribution list for years.  The list includes activists, interest groups, journalists, and legislators.

“How can they blackball an individual?  Wolfe asked.  “(It) seems blatantly discriminatory and illegal to me and if I had a lawyer, I’d sue them.  Obviously, they seek to silence a political critic.”

The New Jersey Globe has contacted several senior OLS staffers but has not responded to inquiries.

All Wolfe wants is to get back on the distribution list.

“If they provide the public service, don’t they have to provide it to anyone who asks on an equal basis?” he wondered.  “How can they do that?  Is it legal?”

Wolfe was a DEP policy analyst from 1985 to 1995 when he was fired for disclosing a memorandum between then-Commissioner Robert Shinn and Gov. Christine Todd Whitman about high levels of mercury in the state’s freshwater fish.  Wolfe accused Whitman of failing to warn the public.

Following his dismissal, he worked for the New Jersey Sierra Club until Gov. James E. McGreevey’s administration asked him to return to the DEP in 2002.

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