PRINGLE: OVERSIGHT LED TO CONFLICT
Borough Attorney Ken Pringle, left, and partner Tom Hall at a Red Bank council meeting in July.
Borough Attorney Ken Pringle tells redbankgreen that faulty memory led to a situation in which his firm faced off against Verizon New Jersey on behalf of Red Bank while also working as a lobbyist for the telecom giant in Trenton.
Pringle, who’s also the mayor of Belmar, says he and his firm have recused themselves from representing Red Bank in a tax appeal case brought by Verizon regarding its switching station on Broad Street.
A proposed settlement of the case, which would have reduced Verizon’s two-year tax burden by a total $30,000, was tabled by the council a week ago, before the conflict of interest came to light.
Pringle said early this afternoon that law partner Tom Hall “simply forgot” that he and Pringle had previously recused themselves in Verizon business before the the council and neglected to check with the firm’s lobbying office to see if the company was still a client.
Pringle said he didn’t know that Hall had been dealing with Verizon over the tax appeal until last Monday’s regular council meeting, when Hall described the proposed settlement to the council.
“I assumed he had had checked with our Trenton office and confirmed that we were no longer representing Verizon,” Pringle told us.
But afterward, when he asked Hall if that was the case, he learned that Hall hadn’t checked, Pringle said. Had he known that during the meeting, “I would have stopped the clock right away,” Pringle said.
He said he and Hall discussed the matter more fully the following day and decided to recuse themselves from the tax case. Mayor Pasquale Menna, however, told us he didn’t learn of the conflict until this morning, when he got a call from Hall.
Pringle said his firm, Pringle, Quinn & Anzana, has had a lobbying arm since 1998, and in recent years represented Verizon with regard to its interest in expanding its FiOS high-speed Internet business throughout New Jersey.
He said he and Hall recused themselves from representing the borough with Verizon about 18 to 24 months ago when the telecom company appeared before the council on the FiOS isue.
Pringle said his firm does no legal work for Verizon, and that he has not received campaign contributions from the company.