UPDATED: Sussex Co. Campaign Conflict Gets “Dirty”


UPDATED – 09/02/22 – The Talk of Delmarva has learned that in investigation concerning recent allegations made towards County Councilman John Rieley are now being looked at further by the Attorney General and State Ethics Board. County Public Information Officer, Chip Guy tells the Talk of Delmarva that Councilman Rieley has made the request that the County Attorney contact the Delaware Public Integrity Commission to investigate and review this matter. This comes after Councilman Mark Schaeffer raised concerns during the Council Comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting concerning activities at the Rieley family farm.


Sussex County Council’s Tuesday meeting veered away from the agenda, as 3rd district Councilman Mark Schaeffer raised a concern about activities at the family farm of 5th district Councilman John Rieley.

When Schaeffer asked to begin the council comment portion of the meeting, President Michael Vincent seemed to know what was coming.

“This dais is to be used for Council business and to be professional. What we’re not going to have up here is some kind of political statement or an attack on a council person,” Vincent said.

Schaeffer then made reference to Rieley’s acceptance of “loads of topsoil” that were trucked to his farm property and spread at no charge. Schaeffer said Rieley stated on the radio that he did not know where the material or the labor came from – “which I find suspect.”

“I think it quite frankly rises to the level that Mr. Rieley should consider resigning from the Council,” Schaeffer said.

Vincent then struck the gavel several times.

Rieley responded:

“I spent a lifetime building a good name and reputation in the community. I will say categorically that we have done nothing illegal, nothing wrong, nothing that’s even out of the ordinary.”

Rieley added that the projects on his farm are fully permitted and in compliance. He said he had a “brain cramp” when he was originally asked where the services came from, but farmers accept topsoil when retention ponds are created in developments, resulting in leftover topsoil.

“This whole incident is transparently political,” Rieley said.

After some additional discussion, Councilman Douglas Hudson of the 4th district had had enough.

“I think it’s very, very sad that these people have to sit here and listen to this foolishness. This is supposed to be a professional forum,” Hudson said.

“It makes me sick.”

Schaeffer released this statement:

We have recently learned that a colleague serving as a Sussex County Councilman has received and accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods and services from a large housing developer for free and has attempted to cover up the activity.

John Rieley who serves the 5th SCC District has recently accepted over 38 triaxel (very large dump trucks) loads of free top soil, has had it loaded on the trucks for free, has had the trucks deliver the top soil to his property (9+/-miles one way) for free, dumped for free, had it spread for free with a large bulldozer and track excavator for free.

When he voluntarily showed up to discuss this issue on (@) radio show this past Friday and Tuesday he claimed he didn’t know who gave him the material for free, who supplied the trucks for free, who delivered the bulldozer and track excavator to his farm or who owned the equipment and who spread it for free. When explaining this at the SCC meeting yesterday he claimed he couldn’t remember who gave him the material, equipment and labor for free because he had a “brain freeze”

There was a criminal complaint filed with Delaware Department of Natural Resources, criminal complaint number 9722002050 regarding the belief that he has no permits to move material, no silt fence protecting wetlands, is bulldozing trees without permission and filling wetlands and a stormwater pond illegally. 

On Friday of last week he voluntarily offered to deliver all of the permits and a letter from Denrec claiming the criminal complaint to be frivolous to The (radio) show on Monday August 29 .  As of the 31 the permits and letter have not been received.  He explained on the live radio show on the 30th that he didn’t have the permits or letter and would now deliver them to the (show host) show on Friday 2nd.  It’s believed that there in fact are no permits.  

This is a very serious violation of the public trust and has possibly risen to the level of felony activity.  I am available to discuss this serious issue anytime and believe it is important news and of interest to the public.

Rieley released this statement:

Mark Schaeffer conducted an ambush yesterday at Council by having media and cameras in the room as he made a surprise statement from the dais.

I would refer you to my statement at Council yesterday to explain my position. 

As far as this press release is concerned everything he says is unfounded. 

We have all our permits in place and we are in full compliance with every supervising agency.

We have no violations.  The DNREC officer who came to our farm said he was filing his report as a false report.  We have taken our request for a copy of the report all the way to the Secretary’s office and are waiting to receive a copy.  We will make it available as soon as we receive it.

UPDATED 9/2/22: Letter from DNREC to John Rieley:

Image courtesy Councilman John Rieley