Thomas J. Ellis

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For other people of the same name, see Thomas Ellis.
Thomas J. Ellis
Member of the Montgomery County
Board of Commissioners
In office
January 7, 2003 – January 7, 2008
Preceded by Richard Buckman
Succeeded by Bruce Castor
Personal details
Political party Republican Party
Residence Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania Law School

Thomas Jay "Tom" Ellis is a Pennsylvania public finance attorney. He served several terms as County Commissioner of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, one of the largest counties in Pennsylvania, before being dropped from the ticket during an intra-party feud. An ally of controversial Republican National Committeeman Bob Asher, he is a prominent figure in the Pennsylvania Republican Party.[1]

Education and legal career[edit]

He earned a degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982.[2] He earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, where he was Editor of University of Pennsylvania Law Review.[2] As special counsel with Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll in Philadelphia, he handles public finance and higher education legal issues.[2] Specifically, his legal works focuses on facilitating tax-exempt financing projects for local governments and municipal authorities.[3] He also manages the firm's lobbying on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[2]

Political career[edit]

From 1990-2002, he served as a member of the Cheltenham Township Board of Commissioners.[2] In 2001, he was appointed as a board member of SEPTA.[2]

He was first elected as a County Commissioner in Montgomery County in 2003 as running mate with Jim Matthews.[4] He was chair of the County Commissioner's Board from 2006 through 2008.[2]

2008 election and sexual abuse scandal[edit]

In the 2008 election, Ellis was dropped from the Republican ticket because of an incident with former fiancee Lisa Whalen who filed a protection from abuse order against him.[5] As a result, Ellis was unable to secure the county GOP's endorsement for a second four-year term in 2007, resulting in a bitter split in the county GOP. Whalen subsequently withdrew that request. While Ellis denied physically abusing Whalen as she alleged in her petition, he did publicly apologize to her at a county commissioners meeting. Ellis unsuccessfully attempted to obtain the Republican nomination independent of the party apparatus, losing to Bruce Castor and Jim Matthews.[5]

In 2008, he was the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania Treasurer.[6] He was endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, whose editorial board praised his "good credentials" and his "interesting ideas" on campaign finance reform and for his plans to improve Pennsylvania's college tuition savings program.[3] During the campaign, he made a campaign promise not to pursue political ambitions beyond the Treasurer’s position.[3] Democrat Robert McCord outspent Ellis significantly in the race.[7] He lost the election to McCord by a significant margin.[8]

2010 Sexual Harassment Charges[edit]

On April 13, 2010, Montgomery County Web editor Marina Bradley accused Ellis of threatening her job. Bradley, who had recently broke off her relationship with Ellis, alleged that Ellis made multiple phone calls to Bradley, including some to her county office, and sent multiple e-mails to her

Two sources familiar with the complaint said Ellis threatened Bradley's job and that one e-mail warned her that "you do not want to be my enemy." Under an EOO agreement, Ellis is forbidden to have any contact with Bradley, who was hired in July 2007 when Ellis served as chairman of the county commissioners.

Montgomery County commissioners were advised of the accusation in a closed-door meeting. Shortly afterward, solicitor Barry M. Miller confirmed that Ellis violating the agreement restrictions and allegedly tried to contact Bradley again by phone when he learned the commissioners had been briefed. Ellis denies contacting Bradley.

Asked to respond to the allegations in the complaint, Ellis responded by e-mail, stating, "Any comment would have to come from Bev Jackson as I can't violate Marina's confidentiality. Can tell you case was closed without consequence?"

However, Ellis, releasing a letter Monday evening that he sent Saturday to county Chief Operating Officer Robert W. Graf, denies violating the agreement. The letter, in part, states: "As for Ms. Bradley and myself, that case was amicably closed April 1 and never violated by either party. As I told Ms. Jackson, I did mistakenly dial Ms. Bradley on her cell when trying to call someone with a very close number and I dialed too quickly...after four years, it was an old habit. Nothing was said and I immediately hung up when I realized my mistake. That happened one time in a month. I have said nothing to Ms. Bradley nor seen her in or out of the county workplace."[9][10]

When asked if he would call for the treasurer’s resignation, Montgomery County commissioner Joe Hoeffel said he was still looking into the matter. "I’m waiting to get more information from our staff,” he said. “I’m very troubled by it.”[11]

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Buckman
Member of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
2003–2008
Succeeded by
Bruce Castor
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jean Craige Pepper
Republican nominee for Treasurer of Pennsylvania
2008
Succeeded by
Diana Irey-Vaughan