Tom Bassford Still a Resident, Able to Serve on Council, Superintendent of Elections Finds

He has a month-to-month lease in Grantville, Pennsylvania, but relevant factors support his case that he is a Galloway resident, according to Superintendent of Elections John Mooney.

Tom Bassford legally resides in Galloway Township and can therefore continue to serve as a member of Galloway Council, Atlantic County Superintendent of Elections John Mooney has determined and stated in a letter to Bassford dated Jan. 13, 2012.

The letter was part of a document Galloway Township Manager Arch Liston released to members of the media following the council meeting on Tuesday night, April 24.

Bassford was not in attendance at the meeting.

The issue has been raised by members of the public and the media who dispute Bassford lives in Galloway, saying instead he spends most of his time in Pennsylvania, and should therefore be forced to vacate his seat on council.

Bassford has lived in his home, owned jointly by his wife, Carol, on First Avenue in Galloway Township for 29 years, according to a letter from Solicitor Michael Blee to members of council, which is included in the document.

There are no divorce proceedings in place, and there is no property settlement agreement between the parties that would change ownership of the property, according to Blee.

Blee then states that Bassford, who worked in the casino industry in the 1990s, attempted to re-enter the industry after his full-time status with Foundation Title Industry became affected by the extreme decline in the real estate market.

Foundation Title is a company that provides title insurance and settlement services, and has a location in Linwood.

In November 2010, Bassford secured a full-time job with Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Pa., according to Blee.

According to mapquest.com, the shortest travel time between Bassford’s home address on First Avenue in Galloway and Hollywood Casino is three hours, four minutes.

When Bassford first began working at the casino, he began renting a home with three roommates, all of whom had ties to Atlantic County, Blee said. Early in 2011 Bassford signed a month-to-month lease at a home in Grantville. A copy of that lease is included in the document.

Blee previously stated his work schedule allows him to be in Galloway for council meetings on Tuesday nights, but members of the community and the press challenge his availability to voters the rest of the week, saying he should be removed from office.

According to Blee, the primary statute in this situation is the municipal vacancy law, which states: “The office of a mayor or a member of the governing body of a municipality shall be deemed vacant upon a determination of the other members of the governing body that the mayor or member of the governing body no longer resides within the corporate limits of a municipality or ward from which he is elected. If the governing body determines that a member no longer resides within the limits of the municipality, that member has due process rights.”

As far as what constitutes a person’s home, the law in the State of New Jersey reads: “Domicile has been variously defined as the place where a person has his true, fixed permanent home, and principle establishment, into which whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning or the habitation fixed in any place without any present intention of removing therefrom.”

Blee points to a recent case involving former Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, in which the court ruled it is the person’s intention to establish a place as home demonstrated by relevant factors that determines residency for purposes of qualification.

Relevant factors include: telephone bills; gas and electric bills; place from which taxes are filed; mailing address; membership in local clubs; drivers license and automobile registration addresses, both of which were supplied in the document, and both of which list Bassford’s home in Galloway as his address; place where person spends greater amount of time; newspaper subscription; and location of schools attended by children.

It has been determined that Bassford spends the four nights a week in Pennsylvania and three nights a week in Galloway. However, he is seeking employment at the recently opened Revel casino in Atlantic City and a casino soon to be opened in Valley Forge. Bassford claims that if he becomes employed in Valley Forge, he will commute from Galloway Township every day. That commute would be either one hour, 43 minutes or two hours, 39 minutes, according to mapquest.com.

Bassford is not identified as the owner of any utilities at the Grantville home, nor does he have a phone at that location, Blee states. He also doesn’t receive mail at that location.

His telephone bills and gas and electric bills continue to be paid through a joint account with his wife through their home in Galloway, Blee said. That home is listed as Bassford’s mailing address, and all tax returns filed with the federal and state governments list his home as Galloway Township.

He is also a member of the Galloway Township Republican League, attending their meetings periodically, and is a member of the Board of Directors for Highland Swim Club, Blee said.

“The records reflect that he has continued to fulfill his responsibilities by regularly attending council and committee meetings,” Blee says in his letter. “He indicated that he could have adjusted his schedule to spend more time in Galloway, but it is not practical. It is clear from his statements that if an employment opportunity arises closer to his home in Galloway Township, he plans to accept the opportunity and cancel his month-to-month lease for his apartment in Grantville, Pennsylvania.”

Diogenes April 25, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Mr. Scheeler, the law can be very complicated, particularly NJ's residency laws. And you do not, to my knowledge, have a law degree. Something is not illegal just because you yourself do not approve of it. And by the way, governors do not pass laws, legislatures do. Governors simply sign laws. And, if fact, there are actually people who live in South Jersey and work in places as far away as Morris County, NJ, who commute back and forth.
Diogenes April 25, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Spending the majority of non-working time out of state does not equal legal residency one way or the other. I could spend the majority of my non-working time gambling at a Philadelphia casino or visiting my parents there, and it would still not affect my NJ resident status. Whether people vote for candidates based on the candidate's availabllity is one thing , but to claim that a person does not meet the legal requirements for NJ residency based on that fact is not valid. NJ residency laws are immensely complicated and nuanced, and clearly not easily interpreted.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Is an elected official defined as a NJ Pubic Employee?
Bill April 25, 2012 at 03:47 PM
That's not what I am saying. I'm sure there are residency requirements that are already set in place for elected officials. This bill you continue to quote is for employees. You are quoting it as if it pertained to elected officials, which it does not.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 04:19 PM
It makes all the difference. You are not a lawyer, nor are you a judge. Your opinion is not the law. Are you stating that Atlantic County Superintendent of Elections John Mooney has no idea how to perform his job? When Bassford was first elected, I'm sure he was in Galloway full time. Unfortunately for him (according to this story), his employment situation had changed, he does have a wife and family to support. Above all things, that must come first. It also appears he is making employment arrangements in this area. At the time re-election takes place the people of Galloway can make the decision to re-elect him or not. One thing for sure, is that you do not have a vote that will count in that election, or any election in Galloway. Why are you so engrossed with Galloway when there are other towns with obvious problems and you are not even a resident? If you continue to state financial reasons you're not being honest. There are other towns with bigger nuts to crack than Galloway.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Again, you are not a lawyer, nor are you the law. You are quoting a law that has nothing to do with elected officials and injecting your opinion. I do question how much you cost Galloway with your continued badgering. BTW, I have family that lives in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Florida; does that mean I can vote there? (rhetorical question)
mark boucher April 25, 2012 at 04:47 PM
hey bill, you say that the needs of bassfords wife and family must come first......i would have to say that you truly dont know your elected official bassford well enough to be going to bat for him. give me a call and i'll fill you in on just what the "self proclaimed family man" and EMPLOYEE of the hard working tax paying families of galloway has been up to in the past year, mark boucher 609-432-1734, unless you know the truth your just blowing hot air about something you dont understand! the truth cannot be posted on patch, their biased ways just have the posts removed.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I'll call you today. I have an idea of what you are talking about and if it is what I think it seems there are many others in Galloway guilty of the same thing yet not published on the Galloway Blog. I would say my opinion on something like that would be like questioning the ability of President Clinton and his antics. Basically meaning, if what he, or anyone else, does on their personal time and doesn't affect their performance it's none of my business.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 04:56 PM
BTW, I'm not defending Bassford anymore then I am defending Atlantic County Superintendent of Elections John Mooney. I just find it interesting that Scheeler was quoting law in something that did not pertain to the current situation. He seems to lay his opinion down as law.
mark boucher April 25, 2012 at 05:00 PM
hey bill, when you go to the link in harry scheelers post, make sure you click on the email in the story so you can see just what your "family man" councilman does for other hardworking families in the area, any questions? call me, my name and number is there also. mark boucher.
mark boucher April 25, 2012 at 05:04 PM
if what bassford did on his personal time involved harm to your family.........im sure you would think differently.
mark boucher April 25, 2012 at 05:46 PM
bill clinton was impeached....and we all know what for.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Honestly Harry you make no sense. In your first post you quoted the recently passed law as the basis for not agreeing with this outcome. You later admit it has no bearing. So instead of quoting a law that doesn't pertain to this situation wouldn't it be easier to quote the law that actually does pertain to this? And if we are bring up alleged affairs in the township and how they affect the township maybe you should publish all the alleged affairs that occurred between elected officials and/or government employees.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 07:15 PM
@Brian, I am not the one publishing a blog and calling it journalism.
mark boucher April 25, 2012 at 10:08 PM
What an absolute joke! The article states that bassford has no phone or utilities in his name in the residence in pa? Who has a house phone anymore? And utilities are in his roomates name for just that reason, and the kicker is hes admitted to having a residence in pa publicly on the radio and it states right in the article " his residence in grantville", what an insult to the taxpayers! Hes an admitted fraud. And i guess were all stupid too! Step down bassford! You lied to the people who elected you!
Keep Galloway Green April 26, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Superintendent of Elections must be brain dead. Bassford doesn't live full time in Galloway. 3 days a week,,,is not the majority of time. Blee is an idiot for coming up with that story. Galloway is sinking deeper & deeper into a swamp of lies & deceit. Worst run town in NJ.
1776 April 26, 2012 at 04:39 PM
This is unbelievable! He spends most of his time in Pennsylvania and Superintendent of Elections John Mooney says he can remain on council and vote here? Mooney is a MORON. No wonder this state is so corrupt. Doesn't his fellow council members have an obligation to have him removed. I mean he even gave out copies of his PA homes lease. Galloway has got to be the most corrupt town in NJ. All these politicians do is cover for each other. Its time to vote every single one of them out of office!
Annmarie April 26, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Not from Galloway, but I have to say, If your in a political position, you need to be available to your town when they need you, not when you drop in! Fireman and Policeman and many others couldn't live in PA and commute for the same reason.
Keep Galloway Green April 26, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Hey Anthony...I like how you still use that photo with Hartman in there....very up to date....lol
VTPat April 26, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Not long ago Mooney was a Councilman in Galloway and his son is a police officer there. You bet he backs one of the good ol' boys.


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