Ex-Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell hit Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis over his ongoing sexting scandal as he praised state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-19) for moving to update the state’s sexual harassment policies.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“No one should have to put up with the harassment this employee has talked about publicly for months. She has been very public and very vocal with her allegations and, if proven true, they are simply appalling,” O’Donnell said in a statement, noting that the lawsuit could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Earlier today, Hudson County View reported that former City Hall employee Stacie Percella is accusing Davis is abusing his authority in the midst of a sexting scandal that spans back a few years.
In a one-on-one interview, Davis dismissed the allegations in the suit as complete fiction.
“It’s clear that the mayor will continue to say that the text messages are a ‘joke’ but I don’t find the allegations to be funny and I don’t think Bayonne taxpayers being sued is funny. It’s too late for the mayor to take responsibility for his actions but if I’m elected I will immediately review and strengthen the City’s sexual harassment policies, and I will use Majority Leader Weinberg and Assembly Speaker Coughlin’s leadership as the model,” added O’Donnell.
A Davis campaign spokesman accused O’Donnell for trying to “exploit the situation for his own political gain,” further claiming that he was nowhere to be found when Percella filed her previous lawsuit.
“It’s not surprising to see Jason O’Donnell attempt to exploit this situation for his own political gain and his comments are more proof that these allegations are part of an orchestrated, political effort to hurt Mayor Davis’ campaign,” said Paul Swibinski.
“Mayor Davis is now the third person that Ms. Percella is suing for harassment and in each case no physical contact is alleged, and in the previous cases the employees Percella is accusing were actually operating under the supervision of Jason O’Donnell himself in his former capacity as the city’s Director of Municipal Services.”
Swibinski also said Percella’s allegations have already “been found to be without merit” by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, though Percella told Hudson County View that was not accurate as that case is still pending.
O’Donnell quipped back in a statement, saying the mayor’s office has continually changed their story regarding the sexting.
“From day one this situation has been lie on top of lie out of the Mayor’s Office. Mayor Davis started out saying he didn’t do it, then he said someone else did it, and then he said he did it but it was ‘playful banter,’” O’Donnell stated.
“Now he is claiming my campaign is somehow responsible for he and the City being sued for sexual harassment, which is something that could cost every Bayonne taxpayer money. It’s clear the Mayor is not going to take responsibility for his actions, but it is time for the lies and the spin to stop. If I’m elected I will immediately review and strengthen the City’s sexual harassment policies.”
Following a study conducted by the Associated Press that showed New Jersey’s sexual harassment policy is among the weakest in the nation, Weinberg called for mandatory training for state legislators and their employees.
According to a report in NJ Advance Media, she had previously requested a complete review of the policy by the Legislative Services Commission.
“There must be absolutely zero tolerance for sexual harassment by members and staff of the General Assembly,” Coughlin said in a statement released by his office yesterday.
“I have directed our executive director and counsel to put in place a policy that does everything possible to prevent harassment, improve training and protect victims — including, crucially, the ability for victims to come forward without fear of retaliation.”
O’Donnell and Davis are currently set for a showdown at the polls in the Peninsula City on May8th.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with comment from a Mayor Jimmy Davis campaign spokesman.