Sheriff campaigns hit the courtroom: Facebook, self-inquiry, and a man in uniform

A judge agreed today that Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire was right to remove a link from his department’s official website to his personal Twitter page, which touted a campaign golf outing fundraiser. The judge said the link must stay down.

McGuire’s opponent, Emerson Police Chief Michael Saudino, filed a suit alleging the link was a violation of election laws prohibiting the use of public resources for campaigning.

The Democrats claimed an auto-feed sent the golf outing info from his Facebook account, to his LinkedIn account, to his Twitter account, which appears on the official sheriff’s office website.

“Clearly he’s using public resources for private gain,” Saudino attorney John McCann said today. “He’s refusing at this point to take his Facebook down. I didn’t hit (the Facebook account) hard in my brief (…) Do I have to file another lawsuit?”

Apparently, yes. The parties will be back in court next Tuesday at 9:30 over the Facebook account.

“He’s talking about the (county) gun (buy-back) program, etc. (on the Facebook page),” McCann said. “And you can’t do that within 90 days of an election.”

The Dems took aim at Saudino today by calling for his resignation from either the campaign or his post as police chief because of a rule on the books in Emerson.

“They have to muddy up the waters,” McCann said. “It’s as good an issue as you’re going to get when you’re behind (in the polls).”

The BCDO is threatening a lawsuit if Saudino doesn’t step down.

“It’s not a violation of a law; it’s a violation of a rule,” McCann distinguished.

Saudino requested an internal affairs investigation be conducted on himself, and McCann said that’s the appropriate thing to do. He wondered if McGuire had done the same in the Twitter and Facebook cases

“Even for Leo,” he said, “with the (alleged) use of public resources (for a campaign). You have an obligation to report that, to send it to the appropriate authority for review.”

In yet another case McGuire’s attorney filed an order to show cause today accusing Saudino of wearing his Emerson police uniform while off duty at events.

McCann said Saudino can wear the uniform with approval from the borough administrator; even so, it’s not a law, but an internal policy that prohibits uniforms outside of work.

“It’s wrong,” McCann said, and if they don’t withdraw, “I’m going to file a frivolous litigation letter. It’s not a violation of law. They don’t have standing to bring the case.”

Sheriff campaigns hit the courtroom: Facebook, self-inquiry, and a man in uniform