Karen Hartley-Nagle pic

Karen Hartley-Nagle

(WDEL file)

New Castle County Council has passed a resolution ordering the immediate resignation of Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle.

The resolution, brought by Councilman George Smiley, passed in a vote 10-3, with no discussion at the council's meeting on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

"I voted the way I did because I think there's a victim here, and it's not the council president," said Councilwoman Lisa Diller.

"I think what she needs to look at is what's best for New Castle County and the residents; this is a potential lawsuit to us that could cost us a lot of money, and if we continue, as we have been, will this continue through the next three years?  Will there be other people that come forward?  Where is this potential lawsuit going to end up?  So if you're really looking at what's best for New Castle County, then maybe it is best to stop costing us money," said Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick.

Councilmen Dave Tackett and Bill Powers joined Hartley-Nagle in voting "no."

"It was political theater.  I have council members that have been working against me since a couple of weeks before I even took office, and they've been steadily have been working against me since. These same council members and some employees, they worked on the campaigns--not only on my opponent Penrose Hollins, but also one of the aides here, her husband ran against me," Hartley-Nagle told WDEL.

The resolution is similar to a no-confidence vote as it has no binding power.  The council has no authority to remove an elected official from his or her position. 

"It is a statement in that we have rules that you are not allowed to harass people, and we have to take some action," said Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick. "And this is about as far as we can go in that action."

Prior to vote, Hartley-Nagle told WDEL she had no intention of resigning. At Tuesday night's meeting, Hartley-Nagle responded to calls for her resignation, and councilmembers walked out of the meeting. 

"Reputations have been besmirched and county taxpayers are at risk because of unnecessary potential lawsuits," said Councilwoman Bob Weiner.  "The damage has been done," said Councilman Bob Weiner. 

Only Weiner remained for Hartley-Nagle's remarks in the council chambers following the vote.

Hartley-Nagle has clashed with members of council since she took office in January of last year.  

She was the subject of a harassment complaint, lodged by her former aide Kate Maxwell.  Maxwell vacated her position as part of a settlement with the county after an independent investigation revealed the allegations had credibility and merit.   The settlement, including legal fees and Maxwell's time on leave, cost county taxpayers more than $140,000.

In the confidential human resources report, obtained exclusively by WDEL, Hartley-Nagle is accused of asking Maxwell whether she "needed to call her mommy" and whether she had the proper prescription drug regimen.  She's also accused of telling the former fiancee of fallen Wilmington firefighter Lt. Christopher Leach that she was "so over these deaths."

Hartley-Nagle has declined multiple requests for comment on the harassment investigation and findings.

"I'm at a huge disadvantage because I am not permitted to talk about a personnel matter, and this is unfair, and there’s another side this story, another huge side to this story," she told WDEL.

Sources told WDEL she's refused to undergo training, recommended by the HR investigator and ordered by council.  

"The training is unheard of," said Hartley-Nagle. "A top employment attorney has said he's never seen anything like it."

WDEL also exposed that Hartley-Nagle lied about receiving a $60,000 loan on a county ethics disclosure. 

Hartley-Nagle did loan herself money during her run for council president, according to campaign finance reports. She said that was money saved from her previous job and other loans, and it didn't come from the loan she received from Pat Jones. 

The Delaware Attorney General's Office would neither confirm nor deny any investigation into Hartley-Nagle.  

On that same form, she also claimed she was the owner of the home in which she resides, but WDEL discovered county property tax records show otherwise.  The home belongs to Jones's deceased parents.

An ethics complaint filed against Hartley-Nagle was dismissed, county officials said.