Kelly's AC Airport Job Scandal Makes Him Unelectable in November, Unfit for Congress
Standing in front of the Ocean County Courthouse today, decorated combat veteran, successful businessman and 3rd district congressional candidate Chris Myers today demanded that his opponent in the Republican primary, Jack Kelly, "come clean" on the details surrounding his employment at the Atlantic City Airport between 1999 and 2004.
Jack Kelly was employed by the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), holding positions as both an Airport Analyst and Airport Business Manager, between July 1999 and October 2004. Information provided through numerous Open Public Records Act requests to the SJTA since January reveals that:
· Both positions were created on the day Jack Kelly took them and neither position was publicly advertised.
According to a February 22nd email from Greg Brandley, Custodian of Records at the SJTA, and a March 6, 2008 memo from Paul C. Heck, HR Manager at the SJTA, to Mr. Brandley, the Airport Analyst position (11/29/99) and Airport Business Manager position (7/22/02) were both created the very same day that Mr. Kelly took them, and neither position was publicly advertised.
· There was "no need or justification" for Jack Kelly's position and the hiring process for him remains "unknown."
According to an April 10, 2008 memo from Paul C. Heck, HR Manager at the SJTA, to Greg Brandley, Custodian of Records at the SJTA, there are "no records documenting the need or justification of the position" for which Mr. Kelly was hired. See this following excerpt from the memo: "With [your] regard to the hiring process for Mr. Kelly, we have no records documenting the need or justification of the position. No memorandum that addresses the same, nor do I have records of the position as an agenda item for any personnel committee. The process of hiring Mr. Kelly remains 'unknown.'"
· Jack Kelly didn't meet the stated qualifications for either position.
According to job descriptions provided by the SJTA, the Airport Analyst position required a Bachelor's Degree, five years experience in the aviation field and five years experience in the financial or accounting field. The Airport Business Manager position also required a Degree. A Philadelphia Inquirer article marking Kelly's entry into the congressional race ("Saxton seat has 2d GOP suitor," 1/16/08) lists Kelly's level of education achieved as "Graduate of Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, NJ." There is no indication Mr. Kelly had any experience in the aviation field or a college degree.
· Kelly received a starting salary of $57,304, got his first pay raise in less than two months, a second pay raise after just eight months, and his fifth and final pay raise just two months before he retired with a final salary of $74,662.
According to a March 6, 2008 memo from Paul C. Heck, HR Manager at the SJTA, to Greg Brandley, Custodian of Records at SJTA, Jack Kelly's starting salary was $57,304 on 11/29/99. He received his first raise to $61,006.40 on 1/27/00, after less than two months on the job. He received his second raise to $61,921.60 on 8/1/00, after only eight months on the job. He received his third raise to $70,000 on 8/1/02; his fourth raise to $72,275.48 on 1/4/04; and his fifth and final raise to $74,662.44 on 8/1/04, just two months before he retired.
· Kelly chose to accept taxpayer-funded waive-out payments of nearly $34,000 in lieu of healthcare benefits, while already taking healthcare benefits for his entire family at the expense of taxpayers as a part-time Ocean County Freeholder.
According to a February 29, 2008 memo from Pat Bailey, Risk Management and Benefits Manager at the SJTA, to Greg Brandley, Custodian of Records at the SJTA, Jack Kelly waived out of the medical and prescription plan of the SJTA and instead opted to take "waive out" payments from the SJTA in lieu of healthcare. Additional information provided by the SJTA on March 5, 2008 document that Mr. Kelly received nearly $34,000 in "waive out" payments during his roughly 58 months as an SJTA employee. Kelly already received the most expensive taxpayer-funded healthcare plan available as an Ocean County freeholder.
· Kelly continues to accept quarterly taxpayer-funded waive-out payments totaling more than $37,000 since his retirement, boosting his annual taxpayer-funded income to just under $100,000 per year while holding just a single part-time job as Ocean County Freeholder.
As a 25+ year retiree in the PERS system, Jack Kelly receives an annual taxpayer-funded pension of $40,171 and is entitled to taxpayer-funded healthcare for life. However, since he already receives healthcare courtesy of Ocean County taxpayers, Mr. Kelly does not to take healthcare from his pension. Instead, he collects taxpayer-funded 'waive out' payments from the SJTA totaling more than $37,000 since his retirement. Between his Freeholder salary and benefits package ($48,000), his PERS annual "retiree" pension ($40,171), and his average annual waive out payments from the SJTA since 2005 ($10,000), Mr. Kelly rakes in nearly $100,000 per year at taxpayer expense while holding only one, part-time, elected office.
· Most troubling of all, the SJTA responded to numerous inquiries about what Kelly actually did at the SJTA to earn such a lucrative compensation package by saying that "no specific work log" was kept for him, and admitted in follow-up requests that they could not produce any documentation proving Kelly fulfilled some of the basic tasks and activities outlined in his official job description.
An April 9, 2008 letter from Thomas Rafter, Airport Director at the SJTA, to Greg Brandley, Custodian of Records at the SJTA, claimed "Jack Kelly worked on many projects" while employed at the airport, but conceded that "no specific work log" was kept for him. In response to the vague work reference, a follow-up request was made on April 15, 2008 asking whether there was any evidence whatsoever that Mr. Kelly fulfilled some of the very specific duties and activities outlined in the job descriptions for both the Airport Analyst and Airport Business Manager positions. In an email sent on April 21, 2008, Greg Brandley, Custodian of Records at the SJTA, responded this way: "To answer all your questions below, no, there is no work product for any of the questions concerning Mr. Kelly in the Airport Business Manager position and, no, there is nothing as far as agendas/minutes for Mr. Kelly at staff meetings in the Airport Analyst position."
"Its clear from the public record that Jack Kelly sought and accepted lucrative taxpayer-funded jobs at the SJTA, which the Authority concedes were never advertised, and for which Mr. Kelly was not qualified," said Myers. "Furthermore, despite repeated requests, the SJTA has still failed to produce any clear evidence that Mr. Kelly ever fulfilled the very specific duties and activities required of either an Airport Analyst or Airport Business Manager. The only place Mr. Kelly's name consistently appears is on a paycheck."
"In a time where American families are struggling to buy food and gas, and pay for adequate health insurance-it's unconscionable that Jack Kelly would be enriching himself on the backs of New Jersey taxpayers with multiple public paychecks," said Myers. "This is exactly the type of inappropriate, self-serving, unethical behavior that voters are rightly sick and tired of having to pay for, and which they will surely reject in this election."