It took a tiebreaker vote by the newly elected Wall Township mayor, a Republican, to hand the job of town attorney to Monmouth County GOP Chairman and former Sheriff Joseph Oxley last night, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

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The appointment follows a $4,000 contribution to the successful campaigns of the two GOP township committee members who voted in favor of hiring Oxley, the Press says.

The donation was from a fund controlled by a lawyer who until just days before the Nov. 4 election was a member of the North Jersey law firm where Oxley is now employed, the Press reports.

The Oxley pick was made over the ‘no’ votes of Jeffrey W. Foster and Clinton C. Hoffman, “independent minded Republicans” who wanted the town to stick with Mark Kitrick, a Democrat, as attorney, says the Press.

The Wall Township flap mirrors one in Sea Bright, where Oxley is also under consideration for the borough attorney’s job by the new 5-1 GOP majority. Democratic Mayor Maria Fernandes told redbankgreen last week that the majority’s preference for Oxley over longtime attorney Scott Arnette is “pay-to-play at its worst.”

From the Press:

Oxley insisted that his appointment was not politically motivated
and pointed out that the bid from his law firm, Scarinci Hollenbeck,
was for $145 per hour — $5 less than Kitrick’s law firm proposed for
this year.

On Tuesday Hoffman said, “He (Oxley) could be a
great guy — I don’t know — but what I do know is that the only reason
Mark Kitrick is not being reappointed is for political reasons.”

Jeffrey W. Foster said, “We have a township attorney right now, Mark
Kitrick, who has done a great job for the town and saved us a lot of
money along the way, so I don’t understand this at all.”

was appointed township attorney last year by then-Mayor John P. Devlin,
the lone Democrat on the committee. Devlin was not re-elected in
November. Kitrick, a Wall resident, is also a Democrat.

proposal that had been submitted by the law firm of Scarinci Hollenbeck
of Lyndhurst listed Matthew J. Giacobbe as the lawyer who would be
assigned to the township, if the firm won the contract. Giacobbe, a
partner at the firm, is an experienced municipal attorney who
“represents a number of municipalities and school districts throughout
the state of New Jersey,” according to the firm’s Web site.

So how is it that Oxley, listed on the Web site as a partner in the firm, was chosen as township attorney and not Giacobbe?

looked at the law firm as a whole, and it has a tremendous talent
pool,” [Mayor Michael] Clayton explained Tuesday. “Joe Oxley will primarily be
attending our meetings, but we’ll be drawing on the experience of the
whole law firm.”

Oxley also serves as borough attorney for Highlands.

appointment of Oxley came after a political donation, which critics
link to his law firm, to the winning candidates for township committee.

campaign contribution, $4,000, was given by the not-for-profit
Republican Alliance Inc. to the committee to elect Republicans Conte
and Newberry.

Republican Alliance is run by Mark J. Semeraro, who
until just days before the Nov. 4 election was an lawyer in Scarinci

“He (Semeraro) had already left the law firm for a
rival law firm when the donation was given by the Republican Alliance,”
Newberry said Tuesday. “And he has no vested interest in Scarinci
Hollenbeck winning the contract.”

But Foster said, “It might not
be illegal but it doesn’t look good — It’s the perception. It’s
politics. There’s no doubt about it.”

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