CAMDEN, N.J. (CN) – The Township of Cherry Hill fired a staff attorney because she refused to falsify no-bid contracts at the behest of the Camden County Democratic Party, Deborah Sanders claims in Camden County Court.
Sanders claims the City Council and executive officers illegally rigged no-bid contracts for professional services and purchases, and Township Attorney Lisa Kmiec told her to give the bosses what they want.
“The County Democratic Party instructed Township leaders to whom they were to award professional contracts,” Sanders claims. She adds that “it was established policy that department heads who earned salaries in excess of $50,000 per year were expected to contribute to County Democratic fund raisers.”
Sanders says she refused to contribute, though she was asked to do it five times. She claims she told her bosses, including the defendant Council members and Township Attorney Kmiec, that to follow the Party’s orders, as the defendants demanded, would be “legally problematic.”
She claims the Township’s business administrator, defendant Maris Kukainis, “handed (her) the list of vendors with checks by the names of those approved and told her, ‘We now have guidance from our friends about the chosen vendors’. Sanders understood that to mean that the County Party Officials had placed check marks by the names of those vendors who were to be given the no-bid contracts and she believed that she was now being asked to create false justification for those appointments. Sanders then emphatically stated that she would not create the justification for the awards.”
Sanders says she “sought help from her immediate supervisor, Township Solicitor Lisa Kmiec,” telling her that “she was being bullied by Kukainis … and … being asked to consider post-solicitation criteria and also create false substantiation for the party-chosen vendors.”
Sanders claims Kmiec did not investigate, “but rather told Sanders that she ‘had better be careful telling the Number two in the building no’ and further advised that a good lawyer finds a way to give their clients what they want.”
Kukainis then arranged for her to be fired, she says. She demands punitive damages. She is represented by Katherine Hartman of Moorestown.