Letter to the Editor / Press Release
by Mitch Seim,
Campaign Manager for Patricia Bardnt
Patricia Barndt, a Democratic candidate for Ocean County Freeholder, today demanded a full explanation by Freeholder James Lacey of his undisclosed land deal in Florida with a local developer. Property records uncovered by Barndt from Monroe County, Florida, reveal that Lacey and David Lipton, a real estate developer based in Beachwood, took joint ownership of a vacant parcel of land in Key Largo in May 2010. The following year, a single-family home was constructed on the property, which they continue to own together. Lipton paid the property taxes on the Florida property in 2011 and 2012 through his own personal checks. Despite the clear legal obligation of elected officials to disclose their business dealings and financial gifts on annual disclosure statements, Lacey has kept his Key Largo deal with Lipton hidden.
The Key Largo land deal was inked about 18 months after the OceanCounty freeholders voted, in December 2008, to approve the county’s purchase of a 9-acre parcel of property in Beachwood from Lipton for $1.8 million. Lacey abstained from that vote, for undisclosed reasons. Shortly after Lipton and Lacey bought and developed the property in Key Largo, Lacey and the other freeholders voted in December 2012 to approve another county purchase of property owned by Lipton, also in Beachwood, for $114,000.
Barndt said, “Lacey’s vote to approve the county purchase of land from his business partner Lipton in December 2012 is a clear conflict of interest, but the public has the right to know if his actions amount to a more serious offense.” Barndt said that there is no possible reason for Lacey not to disclose his business dealings with Lipton, or Lipton’s payment of over $4,000 of property taxes for the land, with no payment by Lacey. Barndt termed the arrangement “suspect, at best.”
Barndt also pointed out that legitimate questions may be asked as to whether Lipton’s payments were in return for Lacey’s assistance in arranging the $1.8 million buyout of Lipton’s property in Beachwood, or even as an incentive for Lacey to arrange for the second county land purchase from Lipton. Barndt said, “Lacey should have disclosed, back in 2010, this land deal and all of the financial details. Why did he keep it hidden? If he does not come clean now, then there should be a full investigation by appropriate authorities.”
Barndt said, “The arrogance displayed by Freeholder Lacey in secretly entering into this land deal comes from 20 years of a stranglehold by the Republican party on the freeholder board. They think that they are above the law.”
Seim also provided a report which he said his letter is based from: Lacey-Lipton Report.revised.
The above is a letter to the editor and does not represent the views of the Ocean Signal, Ocean County Signal Media Group, LLC, it’s employees, principals or partners.