Walsh: "It's a lie."
By JJ Sullivan III
MIDDLETOWN- Outside Town Hall during last night's Democratic press conference, committee candidate Patricia Walsh denounced allegations of financial impropriety, calling recent reports the result of "irresponsible journalism," while demanding a change of guard within the current municipal administration.
When asked for a reaction to an article posted on MoreMonmouthMusings concerning the non-disclosure of roughly $30,000 in funds dating back to 1999, Walsh simply stated that the story was false, and that both the mayor, Republican Gerard Scharfenberger, and myself were both liars who had contributed to a patently erroneous accusation.
"First of all I want to say that [JJ Sullivan is] a reporter from a partisan blog," responded Walsh to my first inquiry, addressing the dozen or so assembled supporters. "[JJ Sullivan] took information from only GOP sources. I received one e-mail and did not have the time to collect that information that shows what [MoreMonmouthMusings} printed was a lie. So, I call it irresponsible journalism and that's the end of it."
Responding to the accusations by Walsh after the workshop meeting, Scharfenberger remained nonplussed.
He said the information and discussion were based on hard evidence, not speculation, and would stand behind his statements until presented with evidence to the contrary.
Being one of two reporters present, I actively attempted to solicit a response from the candidate. Yet Walsh had the same retort for repeated questions about the documents, a collection of depositions, copied checks, financial disclosure forms and legal correspondences.
"Mr. Sullivan, I gave you your comment: You printed a lie. In front of all these people, I told you, you printed a lie. That is the answer."
In continued attempts to clarify whether the roughly $30,000 in checks written to Walsh were classified as loans or gifts, Walsh refused to engage beyond the uniform rebuttal offered at the onset.
Walsh refused to respond when asked whether the checks had been reported on a financial disclosure sheet or a tax return since giving the deposition.
"[JJ Sullivan is] not a responsible journalist, [JJ Sullivan does] not seek the truth and so, if you wanna throw more questions at me your gonna get the same answers: You lie," she said.
The former BOE president was again asked whether the funds were loans or gifts. Walsh continued her response uninterrupted, disregarding the question and instead speaking about the mayor's comments in the article.
"The mayor lied!" Walsh exclaimed. "You know that is something! I think the position of mayor in this town is a very responsible position, just like the president of the School Board. And you know what, I don't think our mayor has acted responsible. He or she should be somebody that we can look up to and is responsible for all residents, whether they be black, white, Hispanic, Republican or Democrat; and that is not happening."
After the question and answer segment of the press conference was concluded, I again attempted to approach Walsh, if for no other reason than to gain clarity regarding the Web site's alleged errors.
"Print that: It's a lie," snapped Walsh, declining to elaborate any further as an elderly gentleman chided me for the persistence.
"Why don't you back off?" he demanded.
"Sir, I am only trying to get answers," I responded as he took a stand next to the longtime BOE member.
Asserted Walsh, "Yes, and I gave you one: It is a lie."
Concurrently, attempting to speak over Walsh, the man angrily said that I had received the only answer I was going to get.
After two more questions were shrugged off, the article was again categorized as "a lie;" I had "shown myself to be irresponsible."
With those parting words the candidates were taken inside by party head Joe Caliendo, who said, "JJ, please."
"This is a legal court deposition and these are actual checks. I am providing my opinion about the evidence and statements provided within the sworn depositions," Scharfenberger said. "That is very clear cut, its not someone's interpretation and it's not hearsay; these are court documents we discussed."
Scharfenberger said he made no assumptions from the information provided in the documents cited in the report.
"You have to stand by [the information contained in the deposition.]," Scharfenberger said. "If Mrs. Walsh could clarify it, I think the entire community would welcome that."
For the record, Walsh was sent two e-mails (2:05 pm and 2:25 pm for a 7 pm deadline) and the recipient of three phone calls (before and after the e-mails were sent). Two voice messages were left on the number provided on Walsh's press releases.
The 7pm deadline was pushed back over two hours in hopes of contacting Walsh, as I felt that the gravity and credibility of the report would be impacted by the absence of her comments.