Campaign literature that contained the name of the president of the Kingsway Regional Board of Education has prompted an ethics complaint against him.
James Mueller, a resident of East Greenwich Township, said he signed a letter of endorsement for two municipal candidates in last November’s municipal contest in his hometown, as well as for Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Speaking Wednesday afternoon Mueller also acknowledged receipt of the ethics complaint filed against him and the fact that it was been answered.
Other than that, he said, his attorney has advised him to not comment further — at least now.
Mueller would only add, “I look forward to defending myself vigorously against these allegations.”
NJ Advance Media obtained a copy of the campaign letter Mueller signed along with a copy of the ethics complaint and the answer to that complaint.
However, the name of the person who filed the complaint had been redacted and Mueller declined to name them. The complaint was filed with the state’s School Ethics Commission in mid-November.
The campaign letter endorsed Jeff Taylor and Chris Fay, two Democrats who would eventually lose their bid for seats on all-Republican East Greenwich Township Committee.
The letter also endorsed state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and was paid for by Taylor and Fay for Township Committee.
“For me this is not about politics,” Mueller said in the letter which began “My name is James Mueller and I am the President of the Kingsway Regional Board of Education.”
The focus of the letter was the call for the election of “the strongest-possible leaders advocating for our interests in the fight for full and fair school funding.”
The complaint said Mueller “signed (or allowed to be signed) a letter circulated throughout East Greenwich in which he opened by stating his name and position, apparently believing that using his title would lend greater weight to his endorsement.”
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It adds “statements in the (campaign letter) had the capacity to mislead the public into believing his opinions were the official position of the board.”
Mueller has served on the Kingsway Regional Board of Education for two terms, the last three years as president. Before that he served on East Greenwich’s school board.
The answer to the complaint was filed in mid-January by attorney Joshua I. Savitz who was hired by the Kingsway school board.
“The document speaks for itself, but any endorsement was made in (Mueller’s) personal capacity and not in any official capacity,” the response for Mueller says.
(Mueller) denies that he used his position in an attempt to secure an advantage for Taylor and Fay” and that he violated any ethics laws, the answer to the complaint says.
The Kingsway board meets Thursday night at Kingsway Regional High School in Woolwich.
Mueller said he might address the issue at the meeting, but said it wasn’t clear Wednesday if he would be allowed to.