RELEASE: Gottheimer, Pascrell Lead Letter to NJ AG Platkin Urging Investigation into Sussex County Commissioner Bill Hayden

Apr 03, 2024
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Bill Pascrell (NJ-9) led a letter to New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin regarding the false claims of military service made by Sussex County Commissioner Bill Hayden.

Commissioner Hayden’s lies about his military service have drawn widespread and bipartisan condemnation. His deceptions are extremely offensive to New Jersey’s veterans who have actually served and sacrificed — and potentially violate multiple state laws. 

“It is a crime under New Jersey’s Stolen Valor Act to falsely hold oneself out to be a veteran. It is also a violation of state and federal False Claims Acts and tax laws to lie about one’s military status to gain a financial or tax benefit. It’s not only illegal, but also offensive to those who have worn the uniform and protected and served our great country,” wrote Reps. Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Pascrell (NJ-9) to New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin. “We urge you to defend the honor and dignity of all those who have actually risked their lives to protect our freedom by investigating these claims expeditiously.” 

The members continued, “It’s important to understand the extent and amount to which County Commissioner Hayden benefitted from his false military status, including whether he received state or federal veterans benefits or tax preferences. The people of New Jersey who placed their trust in him as a public official deserve to know the answer to these questions. County Commissioner Hayden’s actions are insulting and damaging to the brave men and women of our armed forces who risk their lives everyday to protect our country.”

Full text of the letter sent to New Jersey Attorney General Platkin can be found here and below:

April 2, 2024

The Honorable Matt Platkin

New Jersey Attorney General 

RJ Hughes Justice Complex

25 Market Street, Box 080

Trenton, NJ 08624

Dear Attorney General Platkin:

As Members of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation, we strongly urge you to investigate Sussex County Commissioner Bill Hayden for lying about his military service and potential violations of state and federal law. Despite County Commissioner Hayden’s claims, the United States Navy has been unable to verify that he served as a Navy SEAL.

It is a crime under New Jersey’s Stolen Valor Act to falsely hold oneself out to be a veteran. It is also a violation of state and federal False Claims Acts and tax laws to lie about one’s military status to gain a financial or tax benefit. It’s not only illegal, but also offensive to those who have worn the uniform and protected and served our great country. We urge you to defend the honor and dignity of all those who have actually risked their lives to protect our freedom by investigating these claims expeditiously.  

County Commissioner Hayden has repeatedly held himself out to be a veteran, a claim that appears to be patently false. According to a former girlfriend, his stepson, and stepson’s wife, Hayden repeatedly alleged that he was a Navy SEAL, and that he had been shot multiple times while executing a classified mission to assassinate notorious Colombian cartel leader, Pablo Escobar. He also lied to other New Jersey veterans, and records show that he claimed veteran’s exemptions on his taxes. In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about Hayden’s service, the United States Navy confirmed that it is “unable to identify Mr. Hayden as a member or former member of the U.S. Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve.  His name does not appear in the SEAL Database.” The Sussex County Republican Party has denounced Mr. Hayden, claiming, “[He] has not been forthright regarding his military service and has demonstrated a lack of integrity in dealings with his supporters and colleagues.”

It’s important to understand the extent and amount to which County Commissioner Hayden benefitted from his false military status, including whether he received state or federal veterans benefits or tax preferences. The people of New Jersey who placed their trust in him as a public official deserve to know the answer to these questions. 

County Commissioner Hayden’s actions are insulting and damaging to the brave men and women of our armed forces who risk their lives everyday to protect our country. We urge you to investigate this egregious breach of trust to the people of Sussex County, our State, and those who have served our great country.  

Sincerely,

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

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