NJ commissioner faces stolen valor scandal and party rift amidst resignation calls

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Sussex County Commissioner Bill Hayden's departure from the Republican Party amid stolen valor allegations and internal party conflicts has created a tumultuous political situation. The controversy deepened as the U.S. Navy refuted Hayden's claims of being a Navy SEAL and Marine, stating that he never completed SEAL training and was never associated with these elite military units.

This revelation prompted four of Hayden's GOP colleagues to vote for his censure due to alleged misconduct.

In a revealing 18-minute recorded telephone call obtained by the New Jersey Globe, Hayden unleashed a barrage of unsubstantiated allegations against party insiders, peppered with expletives, signaling his departure from the Republican Party.

"I don't care if you spread this. This is why I'm calling you to say that I'm leaving the Republican Party," Hayden declared, expressing his intention to seek affiliation with another political group. Despite reaching out to the local Democratic organization, Hayden's attempts to ally seem to have hit a roadblock, as they appear uninterested in collaborating with him.

Hayden's reluctance to run as a Democrat when his term expires in 2025 further adds to the uncertainty surrounding his political future.

Accusations against Hayden extend beyond political disagreements, with claims that he and an ally hijacked the party's Facebook page, expelling authorized posters. However, the most damaging allegations revolve around his purported false military service.

The U.S. Navy's response to a Freedom of Information Act request stated unequivocally that Hayden was not a Navy SEAL, Marine, or associated with any armed forces. This revelation has triggered a cascade of testimonies from Hayden's associates, including a stepson, a veteran, and a former girlfriend, all confirming his consistent narratives about military service, combat wounds, and involvement in high-profile operations.

These accounts paint a troubling picture of Hayden's alleged pattern of deception, claiming secrecy and fear of retribution as reasons for avoiding public recognition.

The Sussex GOP and District 24 legislators have intensified calls for Hayden's resignation, emphasizing the severity of the stolen valor controversy and additional allegations of threats against a fellow commissioner and an improper relationship with county employees. The Republican Party contends that Hayden's actions have not only betrayed the public trust but have also tarnished the party's reputation.

State legislators, including Senator Parker Space and Assembly members Dawn Fantasia and Michael Inganamort, released a statement urging Hayden to resign immediately, stating that he has "disgraced himself by his actions and words."

The internal strife within the Republican Party has been brewing since last year when Hayden accused others of embezzling funds from the county food pantry. This dispute, coupled with the recent revelations, has strained relationships within the party and led to a 4-0 vote in favor of Hayden's censure during a commissioner's meeting.

Hayden's response to these developments, as conveyed through his attorney, hints at ongoing legal battles, adding a layer of complexity to the situation.

As the Sussex Republican Party continues to push for Hayden's resignation, the focus remains on maintaining integrity in public office. The call for Hayden to step down underscores the party's commitment to upholding voters' trust, supporting veterans, and ensuring accountability in the Sussex County government.

The unfolding events surrounding Commissioner Bill Hayden mark a chapter of political upheaval with implications that extend beyond party lines.

"Hayden's betrayal of friends, supporters, voters, and the county are clearly evident at this point," The Sussex County Republican Party statement’s closing begins. "If there is one honorable thing left for him to do, it is to resign and cease disgracing the office of County Commissioner. Enough."
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