After nearly 3 years, judge dismisses Hoboken campaign finance case against DeFusco


After nearly 3 years, a municipal court judge dismissed a Hoboken campaign finance case against 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, ruling that municipalities cannot impose stricter rules then the state in this instance. 

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“It is fundamental in our laws that there is an intended right of vote of self-govern beyond the composed state, and that municipalities offer a creation of state, limited in their powers and capable of exercise; only those powers government granted to them by the legislature,” West New York Municipal Court Judge Armando Hernandez ruled this morning.

Hoboken Clerk Jimmy Farina filed a complaint against DeFusco back on October 21st, 2019, alleging that DeFusco received $37,800 from political action committees his 2017 mayoral bid, with another $44,600 coming in from committees for his council race, as HCV first reported.

The downtown councilman wrote the complaint off as a campaign stunt, given that the complaint was filed about two weeks before the 2019 municipal elections – where DeFusco was re-elected by about a 2-1 margin.

“It’s been a very long time to get to this point. Mike is relieved that it’s over and the court decision speaks for itself,” Steve Kleinman, counsel to DeFusco in the matter, said over the phone this morning.

Back in December, the city council approved a measure co-sponsored by 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour to raise the local union donation limit from $500 to $7,200 – the amount allowed by state guidelines.

With a lawsuit from 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher lingering, claiming that substantive changes had been made between first and second reading, the council approved the measure again in February.

The changes included a “trigger mechanism” that ensured that the local legislation wouldn’t take effect unless the case between Farina and DeFusco ended with the campaign finance rules deemed unenforceable.

City spokeswoman Marilyn Baer says they plan on still enforcing their pay-to-play rules as it relates to labor donations. She did not comment on the status of the aforementioned ordinance.

” … While the City’s position has been to enforce these laws, as previously requested by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, which includes fines for campaign contributions over Hoboken’s local permitted limit, the Court’s determination provides important legal clarity on how the City should move forward,” she said.

“The ruling does not change Hoboken’s strong pay-to-play laws which will continue to be enforced. The administration looks forward to putting this matter in the rearview mirror and continuing to work with all stakeholders on good government policies on behalf of the residents of Hoboken.”

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  1. Another loss for Team Bhalla who file such erroneous charges trying to silence critics! But the drum beats are getting louder, and Ravi and his cronies – very much including those in the racist flier cover up – should be very nervous at this point.

    • Rewards are coming the way of our blessed HudCo friends and union Local allies.
      Blessed be the Ravi Terror Flier we honor as the finest election operation in some time.

      Who are you going to get to make an arrest? The same badges who arrested our Amy?

      Ravi is our guy. Russo is our guy. Amy is our girl. Start liking it.

    • Geez, are you still incapable of having a normal adult conversation about anything without dredging up wacky fantasyland conspiracy theories? Guess what? Trump lost the election and bleach doesn’t cure covid. Still harboring a thing for Pizzagate too, I suppose?

      • We make the rules and our allies will do the needed work to ensure outcomes. Salute to the union Local and eternal Terror Flier respect from Ravi and all of us.

        Oh and you need to get your fifth COVID shot. Call us and we’ll make sure you get an appointment on day one. We want to take good care of you.

        • Oooooh, I get it. You were being sarcastic, good one. How long did it take you to come up with that witty response? A couple of days? It was well worth it, lemme tell ya, because you really hit me with a zinger! As a lib, I officially declare myself owned (or pwned, as it were). Kudos, girlfriend!