CarePoint Health Co-Founder Vivek Garipalli made headlines on Friday after he was revealed as the $1 million donor to a super PAC aligned with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s expected gubernatorial run, but donating to Hudson County Democrats is nothing new for the healthcare mogul.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Garipalli supported U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s 2010 re-election bid with a $1,500 contribution on September 28, 2010, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
He again supported Menendez with a $2,500 donation on July 24, 2012, and then two separate $1,300 (totalling $2,600) on May 2, 2014, FEC filings say.
More locally, back on September 17, 2010, Garipalli made a donation to former Bayonne Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-31), later contributing the same amount on May 22, 2012 and then $500 on April 12, 2013, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC).
O’Donnell decided not to run for re-election last year, paving the way for Nick Chiaravalloti to represent District 31 in Trenton.
A former city firefighter and public safety director, O’Donnell is heavily rumored to be considering a run for mayor in 2018, though it is possible Jimmy Davis could be forced into a special recall election before then.
According to an FEC filing, Garipalli supported U.S. Rep. Albio Sires’ (D-8) bid for re-election for a $1,500 election on September 9, 2011. This was the only time he got involved with a Sires campaign, based on FEC reports.
Just a week later, September 16, 2011, state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31) received a $2,500 donation from Garipalli, according to NJ ELEC. No other Garipalli donations to Cunningham have been reported to ELEC.
Cunningham is up for re-election again next year and is a rumored mayoral candidate, though has recently picked up more steam as the lieutenant governor pick for state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3).
Garipalli did not get involved with Hudson politics for a solid eight months after that, until giving $3,000 to the Bayonne Democratic Committee on April 18, 2012. O’Donnell was the chairman of the organization at this time.
In what is arguably the most notable contribution, Garipalli offered $2,500 to then-Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s campaign against Fulop on February 2, 2013.
Of course Fulop ended up defeating Healy in definitive fashion, but this year has come under scrutiny since in December, Fulop advocated for CarePoint Health, in a joint deal with McCabe ambulance, to provide ambulance services for Jersey City (h/t The Jersey Journal).
The move was seen as highly controversial by Fulop critics since the Jersey City Medical Center had the city contract for 130 years, though the mayor argued it would bring in $2.6 million for the city and would also allow firefighters to act as first responders in extremely dire situations.
The Jersey City Council eventually went with the Jersey City Medical Center in 2014.
Furthermore, Garipalli donated $2,500 to Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) on November 11, 2013 and then $2,600 on August 8, 2014, NJ ELEC filings show.
Also notable was a $10,000 contribution to then-Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith and his council members Debra Czerwienski, Ray Greaves, Joseph Hurley, Terry Ruane on May 1, 2014.
Smith’s team ultimately came up short and Mayor Jimmy Davis’ ticket ended up cleaning house.
Otherwise, Garipalli is also responsible for one-time donations to Jersey City Freeholder Bill O’Dea ($1,000, November 7, 2013), Jersey City Freeholder Gerard Balmir ($1,000, May 29, 2014), a $750 donation to Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (June 23, 20014) and former running mate Carmelo Garcia (July 18, 2014) and finally Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez ($500, September 16, 2014).
He also gave a $2,000 contribution to Union City First, an organization associated with Union City Mayor/state Senator Brian Stack (D-33), on June 17, 2014.
Garipalli’s total donations to Hudson County Democrats during this just under six-year span is $39,700, of course paling in comparison to his $1 million gift to Coalition for Progress.
According to The State, the only Garipalli contribution even close to that was a $250,000 donation made to a super PAC linked Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley earlier this year.
No such contribution came up in an FEC search.