In his losing campaign for Northampton County Council, Lamont McClure relied heavily on campaign contributions from within the District Attorney's Office, where his wife is employed as an Assistant District Attorney. DA John Morganelli alone gave him $1,500, to say nothing of $500 that allegedly was provided by one of the DA's detectives and other money from staffers in the office. After McClure was roundly rejected by the voters, DA John Morganelli was among those who lobbied hard to make sure that Lamont was appointed. And that happened in a back-room deal that violated the Sunshine Act.
Now it's payback time. Last night, McClure voted to transfer the county's DUI Central Processing Operation from the Sheriff's budget to the DA's budget, effectively voting to increase the budget.
Now this is a minor matter and relatively noncontroversial. The resolution passed unanimously. McClure's vote was not needed. But it disturbs me McClure did not recognize the glaring conflict of interest that exists when he votes to increase the budget in the very office where his wife is employed. The state ethics act tells us it's an illegal conflict of interest when a public official uses his official office to benefit either himself or a member of his immediate family. When he votes to increase the size of the DA's budget, doesn't that necessarily benefit his wife?
I think it's a very close question, don't you? I don't believe this was an intentional violation, but McClure really should abstain from any matter involving the DA's office.