Has Michael Saudino resigned as Bergen County Sheriff or not?
It should be a yes or no question, but this is New Jersey, where issues like is Saudino the Sheriff or isn’t he appears complex.
Saudino turned in his gun and badge on Friday, one day after he was caught on tape making racist and homophobic remarks. He reportedly told key staff members he was resigning. His name has been scraped off his office door and he hasn’t been seen or heard from.
What’s missing is his letter of resignation. There is no evidence that he wrote one.
At some point today, Secretary of State Tahesha Way accepted the representation of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department that there was a verbal resignation. Way is using what is basically a press release to trigger a vacancy.
Way has not returned repeated calls seeking comment that began on Tuesday afternoon, and has not responded to text messages.
The question here ought to be a simple one: does anyone have a letter from Saudino that says he has resigned? Can an elected official resign via press release?
A spokesperson for the Secretary of State can’t answer that. And the Attorney General’s office doesn’t want to go anywhere near this question, despite repeated inquiries that began on Tuesday afternoon.
Bottom line: it seems that no one has a letter signed by Saudino resigning his office.
This further complicates the issue of whether there will be a special election in November, something that has extraordinary implications for the other candidates running. More than 40,000 vote-by-mail ballots have already been sent out. Some people have already voted – by return mail and in person at the County Clerk’s office.
Last June, after Assemblyman Arthur Barclay (D-Camden) was arrested on domestic violence charges, a vacancy was triggered, sort of, when the Democratic County Chairman said he spoke to the legislator and that he had resigned. But Assembly leadership believed the seat was not vacant until Barclay had signed the letter. It took a few days to track him down and get him to sign the letter.Sheriff Resignation 09 29 2018