Karen Hartley-Nagle pic

Karen Hartley-Nagle

(WDEL file)

Democratic New Castle County Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle has been surrounded by controversy since the day she was inaugurated.  A newcomer to politics, she’s clashed with everyone on council and council members’ staff. 

This entry begins with Amy Cherry’s exclusive, investigative report on New Castle County settling a harassment complaint lodged by Hartley-Nagle’s former aide.  After months of closed door meetings and “no comment” answers, the settlement document, memos surrounding it, and attorneys’ bills were obtained by WDEL via a Freedom of Information request. 

But New Castle County refused to turn over the confidential human resources investigative report that detailed the allegations and led to the chief investigator determining their was merit in the claims.  Through deep sourcing, WDEL was the only media outlet able to obtain and verify the report, shining sunlight on a problem that cost taxpayers more than $150,000. 

The entry also includes Hartley-Nagle’s clashes with fellow council members that have become so frequent, all on council will only have discussions with her in public with two members present. 

The final piece of this investigative series, by WDEL’s Joe Irizarry and Amy Cherry, has led to ethics complaints after WDEL exposed that Hartley-Nagle lied on ethics disclosures.  A loan she received--and failed to disclose, may also be linked to campaign contributions and could be the subject of an investigation by Delaware's attorney general.  

Since WDEL’s reporting, in the New Year, council has voted to call for Hartley-Nagle’s resignation, though they have no binding authority to force it.  The Democratic Party has publicly criticized Hartley-Nagle, and the state has also moved to change New Castle County’s succession plan so that Hartley-Nagle would not take over for the county executive, if he were unable to complete his term.