As the federal vote-by-mail fraud trial of Frank Raia winds down, 1st Ward council candidate Migdalia Pagan-Milano took aim at incumbent Mike DeFusco for his ties to Ryan Yacco, who testified on Tuesday, though the councilman says he isn’t part of his campaign.
“I call on Councilman DeFusco to remove Ryan Yacco from his campaign. Mr. Yacco was at the heart of an illegal vote-buying scheme. We must send a message that this kind of blatant political corruption is no longer tolerated in Hoboken,” Pagan-Milano said in a statement yesterday.
On Tuesday, Yacco, the founder and co-owner of the now defunct Bluewater Operations testified in Newark U.S. District Court that he performed payroll services for Raia’s One Hoboken campaign and the Let the People Decide super PAC in 2013.
He was only on the stand for about 25 minutes, though his testimony was relevant since several voters from that election cycle claimed they were paid $50 checks from either Bluewater or Let the People Decide in exchange for their vote.
An FBI agent testified the next day that many who were paid by Bluewater did not appear on ELEC reports, though an ELEC official previously said on the stand that would have been the responsibility of any given candidate or campaign.
Yacco, who primarily works as a political consultant for the Passaic County Democratic Committee, worked on DeFusco’s 2017 mayoral campaign and a published report identified him as part of DeFusco’s re-election team for the November council race.
However, a release from DeFusco this afternoon did not identify Yacco as part of his name heading into the fall contest.
In a statement, he identified David Gracin as his campaign manager, Vision Media’s Phil Swibinski and Caitlin Mota will serve as consultant and spokeswoman, respectively, while Ray Ferraioli will lead fundraising efforts.
“Serving as Hoboken’s First Ward Councilman for the past four years has been both a privilege and honor,” DeFusco said.
“I’m excited that my core team from the mayoral campaign will be joining me again this year to continue the push to bring new energy and new ideas to Hoboken. David is a well respected campaign professional who has successfully elevated candidates across the country into public service.”
Reached over the phone, Yacco said that DeFusco is a friend but both have decided it did not make sense for them to work together again in the fall.
“Mike’s a friend and I wish him nothing but success, but I have a full slate for the fall and he already has a team in place,” Yacco told HCV.