I can't believe that I haven't posted about this earlier, but seeing how the Middletown Township Committee will be meeting tonight for the last time before the November 6th election, I thought that I better say my piece about this.
Over the weekend of September 29th, a mysterious email started to make the rounds to inboxes of Middletown residents. The email from a group calling themselves, "RESIDENTS AGAINST OVER DEVELOPMENT", warned about the over development of Middletown, specifically the Village 35 project that is being planned between Kings Highway and Kanes Lane, along Route 35. Upon closer inspection this email was nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on Middletown Democratic Candidate for Township Committee, Sean Byrnes.
No one seems to be sure exactly how many residents through out the township received this email (I personally did not receive it), but it's safe to say hundreds did. Through a little detective work and the process of elimination, it was determined that the common denominator between those that received this email was that all subscribed to the township's Alert system.
Not sure that this was the case, Sean Byrnes attended the Oct. 1st workshop meeting of the Township Committee and asked for assurances that the email which residents received 2 days earlier did not come from the township. More specifically, if anyone on the committee had knowledge of the email or if it came from anyone on the committee seeking election this year (the video below is queued to the start of Byrnes's question).
As you'd expect, everyone at the table denied any knowledge or involvement with the email. There was however, evidence to suggest otherwise.
The email from Resident Against Over Development was sent through the automated email service MailChimp. As part of the service, those that receive emails can opt-out from receiving emails by clicking on the link to unsubscribe. When the unsubscribe link was followed all the way through to completion, the link took the unsubscriber to the Twitter page of Committee person Tony Perry.
On October 5th, the Asbury Park Press jumped on the story and published, "Middletown official won't deny sending mysterious political email", in which Tony Perry wouldn't deny having any knowledge of the email previously. He also, unpromted, offered that the Township email lists are public record that anyone can access via an OPRA request.
After the Asbury Park Press's article was published, the local Middletown Patch published a follow-up report, "Middletown: OPRA Request Forced Us To Share Residents' Emails", where it's evident that after the Press's article came out, Township officials decided that the best course of action was to deny knowledge of the email and blame an anonymous OPRA request for the release of a list of township residents email addresses. When the Patch questioned Perry about any knowledge of who may have been behind the email and linked it back to his campaign Perry stated that, "he hires various political consultants to run his campaigns".
That's not a very convincing denial. To blame this on various "political consultants" running his campaign is weak and shows what kind of backbone Tony Perry has; one that's crooked and spineless. I suppose though I shouldn't expect anything different from someone who was appointed to his seat on the Township Committee by his father-in-law, Gerry Scharfenberger.
The attempt to deceive Middletown residents by sending out an anonymous, dirty trick email, thinly disguised as an anti-development appeal is underhanded and unethical. Middletown Republicans must be truly afraid of losing control of the township committee this year, to have been so desperate to send this kind of email to hundreds or thousands of residents, hoping that it would swing a few votes in their favor.
It also shows the lack of character of Tony Perry and those currently running Middletown. If Tony Perry continues to refuse to take ownership of this and would rather continue to cover it up after tonight's Committee meeting, where I'm sure he'll be asked about it, then he doesn't deserve to be elected and hold office in Middletown or anywhere else for that matter.