Inside Ocean County Government

Ocean County, Pay-to-play

FBI Probed Ocean County Campaign Contributions, Documents Show

Exclusive: The FBI has reviewed past campaign contributions made to late former Ocean County Sheriff William L. Polhemus and potentially other candidates going as far back as 2010, according to documents provided by the FBI to Ocean County Politics in response to a federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in 2017.

While the full extent of the FBI campaign contribution probe remains unclear based on the documents provided, the FBI files indicated that multiple campaign contributions made to political campaigns in 2010, 2011 and 2012 were reviewed by federal investigators from the FBI’s Newark Division.

The Newark Division of the FBI oversees federal investigations covering most of New Jersey. Within the division, a smaller satellite office, the FBI’s Red Bank Resident Agency is primarily responsible for covering Monmouth and Ocean County investigations.

The FBI documents confirmed the identity of just one campaign that was the caught up in the 2013 campaign finance inquiry: the Committee to Elect Sheriff Polhemus.

A selection of the heavily redacted FBI documents

The Polhemus campaign contribution from 2012 was the only campaign contribution that was not redacted in the documents provided by the FBI detailing the campaign contribution investigation. This was likely the case because federal law provides that many of the confidentiality provisions present in the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), do not apply to the deceased.

Former Sheriff William Polhemus

An FBI document dated December 6th, 2013 referenced an October 4th, 2012 contribution to then-Sheriff Polhemus’s 2012 re-election campaign in the amount of $2600. The FBI documents  did not specify the source of this contribution, only the amount and date.

Other contributions reviewed by the FBI were fully redacted, suggesting that the contributions from 2011 and 2012 may have been made to campaigns of candidates that are still living or may involve investigations in progress, since they were fully redacted when provided to OCP in late March 2018 in response to a September, 2017 FOIA request.

The fully redacted contributions

The FBI files obtained through FOIA concluded with a laundry list of public officials, with specific attention to those serving the 2nd Congressional District, 9th Legislative District and the Ocean County Freeholders. Due to the voluminous amount of redactions, made to the documents, it wasn’t immediately clear if the officials listed  on the final page of the documents provided by the FBI were also caught up in the probe of campaign contributions.

Read the documents provided by the FBI:

An Ocean County Politics review of campaign finance disclosure reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) found that the only $2600 campaign contribution received by the Committee to Reelect Sheriff Polhemus in October, 2012 originated from the New Jersey arm of GOPAC, a nationwide Republican SuperPAC that supports local, state & federal Republican candidates.

A report signed by the late sheriff and his campaign treasurer, Frank Holman III, indicated that the Polhemus campaign received a $2600 contribution from GOPAC New Jersey on October 8th, 2012.

From a Polhemus ELEC filin


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