Bhalla-backed Hoboken council slate ‘vows to stamp out election fraud,’ DeFusco responds


The five Hoboken City Council candidates have pledged to “stamp out voter fraud” by not paying any campaign workers on Election Day, with 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco responding that is “absolutely absurd” given outside money coming to the race.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The Team Bhalla Council slate today pledged to not hire any election day workers, relying on volunteers to conduct get out the vote (GOTV) activities and challenged all candidates running for Hoboken council to do the same.

According to a joint statement released by Migdalia Pagan-Milano, Nora Martinez-Debenedetto, Lisa Sprengle, Phil Cohen and Cristen Cricco-Powell, this initiative is in response to longtime politico Frank Raia being convicted of running a vote-by-mail fraud scheme in 2013.

“We are pledging not to hire any election day workers because we believe it is important to go the extra mile to stamp out the voter fraud that has plagued our local elections,” the team said.

“We challenge all candidates running for Ward Council seats this fall to join us. It is important to send a message to all residents that Hoboken elections will be conducted with integrity.”

The Team Bhalla Slate also promised to adhere to the Five-Point Integrity Pledge to Protect Hoboken Housing Authority Residents, put forward by Hoboken Housing Authority Vice Chair James Sanford, with the explicit understanding from Stanford that the second point in the pledge prohibits candidates from campaigning at official housing authority events, but permits direct campaign contact with HHA residents.

The pledge includes denouncing GOTV efforts that pay workers, no campaigning on HHA property, donating away all monies received from Raia and related entities, as well as holding other candidates running to the same standards.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, who is seeking re-election in November and donated $9,400 in campaign contributions from Raia following his conviction, was not amused by the pledge, noting that it’s disingenuous given that the opposition slate will accept “dark money” in this election.

“It’s absolutely absurd for a slate of candidates to preach about running a clean campaign when they’re being supported by a dark money super PAC poised to spend over $150,000 to influence our local elections,” DeFusco said in statement.

“That kind of disingenuous pandering is exactly what’s wrong with politics today and another reason why our city must have independent Council members who are accountable only to the people of Hoboken, not their dark money benefactors.”

As only HCV has reported, a new super PAC incorporated on July 29th, NJ Community Initiatives, is poised to get involved in the November 5th Hoboken municipal elections.

According to their incorporation papers filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the group estimates raising $150,000 this calendar year, approximating that $100,000 will be spent on “New Jersey election-related activity” in 2019.

No one connected with the PAC has confirmed or denied where they will be spending money this election cycle as of this writing.

In response, Team Bhalla spokesman Rob Horowitz took another shot at DeFusco for attempting to change the subject.

“Given that one of Mike DeFusco’s largest political contributors was Frank Raia, found guilty of being the mastermind of the voter fraud scheme, and that his former campaign manager Ryan Yacco was at the heart of the scheme, you would think he would sign-on to this straightforward pledge to protect the integrity of Hoboken elections, rather than try to change the subject,” he said.

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    • So let me get this latest Ravi scam. He’s going to promise to stamp out and refrain from hiring campaign working being paid after Frank Raia is arrested and conviction who won’t be putting out $15,000 on the street.

      But with that non-threat eliminated by the FBI earlier, instead he will give a wink-wink to his Dark Money pals who are working to pump out a PAC’s $150,000 into Hoboken to do dirty work in Hoboken.

      So no more $15,000 in dirty money in 2013 and 2015. Ravi is going with Dark Money for $150,000!
      Holy Shite, you can’t make up this kind of dirty Dark Money cynicism. That’s Ravi!

  1. Sounds like DeFusco is engaging in the time honored deflection known as “whataboutism” to avoid taking a pledge any honest politician would take without hesitation.

    Especially given Raia’s role in his 2017 campaign, support DeFusco sought not in spite of the “rumors” about Raia’s illegal vote buying machine, but IMHO because of it.

    Of course that’s not particularly surprising from a guy who broke Hoboken’s pay to play system by brazenly ignoring Hoboken’s laws, but it’s still disappointing.

    • No, but he said on our TV show yesterday something to the effect of all of his campaigns have been run above board and his relationship with Frank Raia didn’t go beyond receiving campaign contributions.

      • John you left out something that mike clearly omitted. He said on your show that his campaigns complied with state and federal guidelines. He clearly left out local and that is what is being discussed. And we also know he clearly violated Hoboken’s pay to play. Tiffanie fisher said so herself.

        • I wasn’t trying to provide an in-depth synopsis of everything that he said, I was just trying to answer a broad question as succinctly as possible. Also the previous question was about vote-by-mail fraud, not pay-to-play.

          • DeFusco took $9,400.00 from convicted vote-by-mail felon Frank “Pupie” Raia and made him and his boys part of his teamknowing full well how he operated then tried to distance himself and his campaign when the poop hit the fan.

            He can’t play word games to change the facts.

            But that will not stop him from trying.

  2. Unbelievable. A bunch of people that don’t need to work demanding that poor people work for free! Seriously? If someone wants to hire people to do legitimate work (not sign on the dotted line, but actual work) and those workers live in the HHA, the Bhalla slate believes that they shouldn’t get paid?

    Wasn’t there something like that in the U.S. before the end of the civil war? Is that what the Bhalla slate is trying to do? Exploit Hoboken’s poor. Not a brain in the bunch steps up and says that if they are able to pay workers, they will pay every worker. Tells me something about the Bhalla slate that I wish I didn’t know.

    • Backwards. Politicians who buy votes exploit the poor. Like Pupie Raia and Mike DeFusco and Ruben Ramos. None care about helping the poor. Why didn’t Pupie try to find his people honest work instead of corrupting them with swag like football and wrestling tickets? Why doesn’t Ruben organize a clean up of the HHA or try to create employment opportunities for the poor kids of that ward or activities that will give them job skills? Answer is he’s lazy. He let’s mama carry the bag for him and you can take that literally.

      • Let’s be clear. Ravi and his crew certainly don’t care about helping the poor either. Working on a campaign is honest work. Being paid to sign a VBM is not. There is a distinct difference.

        • Let’s be clear. 250 4th/5th ward $50 paid campaign workers for Mike Russo in 2015 voted by mail for Ruben Ramos and Eduardo Gonzalez. Sad that people like them & Fisher & Giatinno have to buy votes cause they can’t get volunteers.

          • Let’s be clear. Mike Russo has a deal with Ravi in connection with the upcoming ward elections.

            Fisher and Giattino have no affiliation with Russo.

            If Russo is indulging in any fraudulent VBM practices, Ravi’s slate are the beneficiaries. That would be: Pagan-Milano, Martinez-DeBenedetto, Farrell-Sprengle, Cohen and Cricco-Powell.

            Sad that the mayor would taint his ticket with the corrupt Russo practices (except Cohen, who is pretty sleazy all on his own.)

          • Hey Joe,

            Hoboken has vlog dedicated that sort borderline slanderous horse manure, rumors and lies. Please limit your post there I hear the guy who runs it can really use the cash.

          • Let’s be clear, as with the flyer, the $150k “dark money” and every other conspiracy theory he passes off as fact, Roman has no evidence of a Bhalla/Russo agreement.

  3. Still waiting James… Sanford.. Sanford.. Sanford?

    Guess he can’t here this over at his new apartment in NYC!
    James this is your last chance, resign now and fess up to moving out of state or expect someomne to contact HUD>