Coley files lawsuit against mayor for violating election laws

ORANGE, NJ — Orange East Ward Councilman and 2016 mayoral candidate Kerry Coley held a press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday, April 5, to announce he had filed a lawsuit against numerous parties who he alleges have “maliciously defamed him” in political attack ads.

According to attorney Eugene H. Kim of Ridgefield, who is representing Coley in the case in New Jersey Superior Court, Coley applied for a preliminary injunction Tuesday, April 5, “against defendants (Mayor) Dwayne D. Warren, Willis Edwards III, (Human Resources Director) Lena M. Taylor, (attorney) Gracia Robert Montilus, Friends of Dwayne Warren, American Future Leaders and the city of Orange Township.” He has filed an order to show cause and requested a preliminary injunction against the defendants named in the filing.

“Councilman Coley brings this action to take a stand against blatant disregard of the law by those who serve in public office. Defendants have maliciously defamed Councilman Coley by lying and stating that he purposely exposed the public to pornography when they knew that was not true. Defendants also violated Councilman Coley’s privacy rights by wrongfully accessing and publishing his internal affairs records from his tenure as a city police officer,” Kim said.

“By law, such records are confidential, are not subject to disclosure laws, such as the Open Public Records Act, and must be safeguarded in accordance with strict security measures. Defendants have violated election laws by impermissibly colluding in the campaign for mayor of Orange.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, May 4, Warren denied engaging in attacks against any mayoral opponents or endorsing anyone else’s attacks, adding “Everyone, stop pointing fingers” and suggesting his rivals and the Orange electorate should “Deal with whether the facts are true and verifiable.”

The mayor issued a press release Tuesday, April 5, asking all mayoral and City Council candidates to sign on to a “Clean Campaign Pledge of 2016,” which asks candidates to conduct their campaigns accurately and honestly; not engage in, permit or condone personal attacks on the character or engage in invasions of personal privacy unrelated to campaign issues; approve all materials released concerning their campaigns; not use campaign material which uses quotations or images taken out of context and to misrepresent the other candidate or the candidate’s message; not to disseminate any campaign material or message in which they are not prominently identified; and publicly repudiate any campaign material or advertisement of any individual or group who engages in activities which violate the pledge.

Warren’s request was met with cynicism.

“I assume, since Warren already spilled all the dirt he had on Coley, he must have no more and now wants to say: ‘Oh please stop … It’s not right,’” said Michael Vieira, campaign manager for mayoral candidate Janice Morrell, on Monday, April 5.

“And for Coley to act all offended that Warren is attacking him — we need to remind Kerry that he threw the first stone at Warren,” Vieira added.