Progressive New Jersey Inc., an entity that donated $400,000 to the Coalition for Progress super PAC – which is linked to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s expected gubernatorial run – has ties to District 5 Democratic congressional candidate Josh Gottheimer and ex-Gov. Jim McGreevey (D).
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Progressive New Jersey’s six-figure contribution to Coalition for Progress, made on September 14th, 2015, was largely overshadowed by a $1 million donation by the Wilmington, Delaware-based company D.E. First Holdings – which was incorporated just one day prior to writing their generous check.
However, unlike D.E. First Holdings, Progressive New Jersey’s June 9, 2014 certificate of incorporation filing provides at least some information about who is involved with the organization.
Gary Hirsch, a North Brunswick Democratic committeeman, registered the agency, which has been previously noted by Hudson County View and other news outlets.
However, one aspect that has been overlooked is who sits on the three-person board of trustees for Progressive New Jersey.
It goes without saying that Hirsch is on the board, but joining him are Marla Brooke Tusk, of Wykoff, and Henry Plotkin, of Highland Park.
Plotkin used to be the executive director of the New Jersey State Employment and Training Commission between March 1997 and November 2008, as well as a political science professor at Rutgers University. He now serves as secretary of the board for the Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in NJ.
Part of his tenure with the NJSETC occurred under then-Gov. McGreevey, who is now the executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, and Plotkin also currently sits on the JCETP board of directors.
Meanwhile, Tusk, a former federal prosecutor, married Gottheimer back on December 9, 2006 (h/t The New York Times). Gottheimer, a former Microsoft executive and President Bill Clinton speechwriter, is on a collision course with U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) leading up to the November 8th general election.
However, just a couple hours after this story was initially published, a source, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, revealed that Tusk resigned as a trustee and the treasurer of Progressive New Jersey on August 6, 2015 – just over a month before the $400,000 donation to Coalition for Progress was made.
“I have enjoyed our time working together on this endeavor and wish you, Henry, and the Board the best of luck going forward,” she wrote in the two-sentence letter. The source declined to comment on who filled Tusk’s seat on the board.
Fulop also has a good relationship with Bill Clinton, who was a guest speaker at a December 3, 2013 Liberty House fundraiser on the former councilman’s home turf.
Garrett, who has won seven elections dating back to 2002, has lost considerable traction among the Republican party and his core group of supporters ever since he stated that he would not pay dues owed to the National Republican Congressional Committee since they recruited and supported gay candidates (h/t Politico).
This has opened the door for the Democrats to take back an important North Jersey congressional district, aiding Gottheimer in raising $375,167 between October 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 – for a total of $1,251,496 cash on hand – according to filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Among the 524 donors during that three-month time period was high-powered law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck, as well as managing partner Donald Scarinci, who contributed $2,500 each on December 21, 2015, based on the same FEC filing.
Needless to say, Gottheimer would be able to hold his own, from a fundraising standpoint, without the $5,000 from Scarinci and his law firm, but it is worth noting that the well-known attorney has been adamant about Fulop having the skilsl and tools to be the next governor of New Jersey dating back to November 2014.
More recently, Scarinci acknowledged in January that Coalition for Progress will be aiding Fulop in some capacity, noting that the $3.2 million raised by the super PAC is proof that Fulop will have the political support and the money to succeed Gov. Chris Christie in Trenton.
Fulop also previously told Politico New Jersey that he has fundraised for Coalition for Progress in the past.
Bari J. Mattes, the Coalition for Progress president, previously told Hudson County View that the super PAC is “fully compliant with all applicable regulations and the law,” also noting to other media outlets that the entity will not be supporting just one candidate.
Hirsch, Plotkin and Tusk could not be reached for comment.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect new information.