Fisher blames Bhalla camp for 2017 ‘terrorism’ flyer, mayor responds: ‘It’s a disgrace’


Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher blamed Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s campaign for the 2017 “terrorism” flyer that some felt was the difference maker in his historic win, to which he responded that “it’s a disgrace” she could make such accusations.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Like so many others, I believe Ravi and his campaign team fabricated the 2017 racially charged flyer that made it look like he was being discriminated against in the 2017 mayoral race, falsely attributing it to rival mayoral candidate Councilman Michael DeFusco, just to gain an electoral advantage,” Fisher wrote in an email blast early Friday morning.

“A short time after that election, several people confirmed via those close to his campaign what we all suspected at the time – that it was a calculated move to manipulate public sentiment. And it worked. The incident gained widespread attention and sympathy, and seemingly was decisive in what was a close mayoral race.”

The flier, which gained national media attention, hit the streets just four days before the 2017 mayoral contest and featured a picture of Bhalla that said “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” with a paid for line from then-1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco’s mayoral campaign.

All four major candidates in the mayoral contest, Bhalla, DeFusco, Council President Jen Giattino, and Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5), denounced the flyer, with no one taking any responsibility for it.

Fisher said she was compelled to bring this subject to light again since Bhalla mentioned the flier in his 8th District congressional campaign launch video.

She also noted she wrote a letter to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office in June 2021 calling for further investigations into the matter.

This came about three months after the city council approved a resolution asking for similar actions from state and county law enforcement.

Neither the AG’s office or HCPO replied to an email seeking comment, though law enforcement agencies almost never confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

To date, no one has ben charged with a crime in relation to the racist flyer, with the Hoboken Police Department leading a probe that included assistance from the FBI and U.S. Secret Service.

On Friday evening right after participating in an event with U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3), a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, in Downtown Jersey City, Bhalla denounced Fisher’s remarks in a short interview with HCV.

“Completely despicable, it does not behold the office that she represents. I’m a father, that day that we received the flier was my 10-year-old daughter’s first experience with racism,” he began.

“If she thinks that was anyone from me or my family behind that, she doesn’t who I am, she doesn’t know my DNA, she doesn’t know the blood that runs through my veins: that is a depraved mind that would do something like that and it’s completely despicable for Councilwoman Fisher to even insinuate that would come from … my campaign or me, it’s a disgrace.”

Bhalla, the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey, received documented death threats that included racist language in 2018 and 2022, respectively.

Additionally, Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour and Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, who successfully ran with Bhalla in 2017, also came out against Fisher’s remarks.

“I am disappointed – but not surprised – to see the lengths to which Councilmember Fisher will go in order to distract people from the progress the city of Hoboken has made under Mayor Bhalla’s leadership. This repackaging of the same allegations that Councilmember Fisher has repeatedly hurled without merit is clearly the latest in her anti-Ravi agenda,” said Jabbour.

“I don’t know if Tiffanie’s transparent mayoral aspirations are clouding her already biased judgment on the topic, but the substance of her manifesto reveals a genuinely disturbing mindset,” noted Doyle.

Fisher said today that she stands by everything she wrote, calling it a “she said, he said’ situation, claiming state and federal officials are still looking into it. She also indicated she doesn’t believe Jabbour or Doyle knew anything about the flier before it hit the streets.

DeFusco, who decided not to seek a third term on the council in November and lost to Bhalla by 484 votes in 2017, weighed in after receiving an inquiry from HCV.

“While I cannot tell you who orchestrated it, it’s apparent that the flier was distributed to benefit the Bhalla campaign. A week before Election Day, Operating Engineers 825, a union backing then-Councilman Bhalla, showed me leading by 1 percent. Being the front-runner often means becoming the target, a reality I faced firsthand,” he recalled.

“Within minutes of discovering the flier’s distribution, I was the 1st to report it to the police. However, the Hoboken police’s response took over an hour, & the case wasn’t transferred to the HCPO until after Election Day. Such delays raise serious concerns about the fairness of the investigation. Although I remain hopeful that law enforcement will eventually resolve this matter, the harm inflicted on me, my family, and my vision for Hoboken is irreversible.”

After that statement was posted on social media, Stan Grossbard, the husband of former Mayor Dawn Zimmer – who backed Bhalla in 2017 instead of seeking a third term – replied that while he disagreed that DeFusco was the frontrunner, it was indeed viewed as a two-man race from the Bhalla camp’s perspective.

“Being up in 1 poll by 1% with a 4% margin of error does not remotely make one a frontrunner. That’s narcissistic nonsense. But it’s undeniably true that the Bhalla campaign at that point thought it was in an extremely tight two person race with Councilman DeFusco.”

He later wrote that “I don’t think the flier made much difference,” further stating that he believes Zimmer’s support is what put Bhalla over the top when it was all said and done.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with comments from Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle and Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour.

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  1. Good show of outrage there, Ravi! We’re proud of our local work on the 2017 flier.
    Our foundations are stronger when we work in union for great election outcomes!

    Everyone knows and we’re untouchable. Jim knows, Emily knows, Russo knows, shoot everyone on the council knows but maybe that Joe Q fella, not too sharp.

    Oh and Vanessa really knows and got a nice gig to keep quiet about knowing.

    Ok, keep Dawn safe and let the Shadow Mayor keep the cover up going!

  2. I want to be clear. As I said in my tweet, I don’t think the terror flier changed the result of the 2017 election. That is almost certainly a minority view. I think all of the candidates in the 2017 election disagree with my assessment.

    The fact that I don’t think the flier had the impact that pretty much everyone else thinks it had doesn’t mean I regard the flier as any less despicable. The fact that people think it changed the election result makes it worse, especially if the perpetrator and his or her collaborators think it helped achieve whatever their goal was.

    I hope Councilwoman Fisher is correct that it is still being investigated, and I think it’s important that the perpetrator be held accountable. Sooner rather than later. Before it happens again.

    I shared my view that the flier didn’t change the result because when people believe this kind of stuff “worked” it encourages them to do it again, and it encourages others to think about doing that kind of stuff as well. And this kind of despicable gutter politics should have no place in any of our elections. Local, state and certainly not federal.

    • So far there’s no indication Ravi will use a terror flier against Congressman Menendez. But hey, this isn’t his first rodeo. People around the Bhalla 2011 Assembly campaign know there was consideration to deploy a terror flier in that Assembly race.

      Do you think Ravi and his 2017 mayoral campaign would be willing to take a lie detector test? Hey, weren’t working you on his 2017 campaign?

  3. Some serious allegations being levelled here by the Councilwoman – but she does have a compelling argument. If this is true, or even half true, Ravi Bhalla belongs in the big house, not the people’s house.

  4. I’ve always thought the flyer was suspicious (& I don’t much like Bhalla either), but Fisher has a history of presenting her opinions as “100% facts”.
    It’s one thing for a private citizen to pull this, but an elected official – especially one who points themselves as a voice for “integrity” – should be prepared to present verifiable evidence before making accusations like this.

    I used to feel like I could trust her to tell the truth about things I don’t fully understand (like zoning laws, etc), but I just can’t anymore. She always speaks with the same level of confidence, no matter how clueless she is. (Anyone else remember her dark warnings on “cannabis tourism”? )

    At this point, I’d like them both to go away.

    • Councilwoman Fisher is not the only council member who knows about Ravi’s dirty inside job. The entire council does. All of City Hall knows and of course the mayor’s office. Magically, HudCo investigators don’t and of course other NJ and Fed friends in high places.

      Recall in 2017, a similar dirty flier dropped in Edison, NJ. That investigation led by its City Council unlike got a little traction exposing the dirty game. In Hoboken, Ravi shut up after the election and refused to support any investigation even when Mike DeFusco fundraised offering to apply all the money toward it.

      These two inside jobs went off at the same time. Not a coincidence:

      How often have we seen similar “victims” turn out to be the perps in recent years with similar cases? A lot.

      As for the Fulop weed shop at 14th St. Ravi gifted, let’s wait until it’s operating in the summer and the waterfront will be teaming with the sweet brain-cell killing smell of dope all over the scenic view.

      • Also I remember that Councilman at Large James Doyle stated during a City Council meeting that while others did not he saw and understood that a loophole in Mayor Bhalla’s cannabis regulations would allow the Mrs Fulop’s 14th Street distribution store to open in a residential condo building in NE Hoboken but he remained silent.
        Why did he do that ?

  5. OK, time to put up, Tif. If you’re going to make those types of claims, you need to back it up with actual evidence (not “he said she said”). The “everybody knows” line is exactly the same as Trump’s “many people are saying” nonsense, equally meaningless.

    C’mon, Tif. Time to put up. If you can’t, I’d consider finding a good lawyer.

      • Perhaps you don’t know how to read but that’s not my point at all. If anyone, particularly a city councilperson, is going to come out with these sorts of accusations, they need to be able to prove it. Why is that so difficult to understand. “Everybody knows” is meaningless BS, give us evidence and facts.

        • Sometimes “Everybody knows” is correct.
          Love Bhalla’s plea for continued victimhood by bring up his child and playing the race card again..
          Didn’t expect better from Bhalla but unlike Doyle and Jabbour who are on the Hoboken City Council in large part because of Bhalla’s political fund raising.

          • So, again, you have nothing. I don’t know if Bhalla was involved. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. But if you or a city councilperson make a public accusation that he was involved, you need to have the proof. PROOF. Not “everybody knows”. PROOF.

            Show me the money.

  6. It’s not any council member’s job to “prove” anything; that is the job of law enforcement. City Council discovers relevant information and can blow the whistle.

    Citations here are to allegations going back to 2011. Unless law enforcement decides to pursue a RICO action for all the conspirators involved with this flier, there’s no justice coming for Hoboken.

    Take note of those who want to see it swept under the rug and go away.

    • By that logic (?), I can do a press interview and accuse Sam Patel as being behind the flyer. I have no way of proving it, but hey, that’s not my job!

  7. Fisher’s hopes for a career beyond her ward end with this baseless accusation. The politics of it are unfixable in this part of the world. She needs to move quite a bit further south to get away with this kind of “we all know it” allegation which has more to do with the definition of “we” than what is actually known.

  8. Tiffanie, so, so many thanks. As you know I’m having to work around the sleazy implications of my dad’s pending felony conviction, so I need all the counter-sleaze I can get. Naturally, I thought of you.

    I wasn’t sure you’d do it, since it just makes you look like a bitter old crone who couldn’t broaden her appeal if she bought everyone’s groceries for a year. But look at you now! A bitter old crone who couldn’t broaden her appeal if she bought everyone’s groceries for a year – gettin’ all maga for the money!

    As we agreed beforehand, I will repay this favor when you inexplicably run for mayor yet again.

    Please understand though that I will need some time to think about how to do it. I cannot associate myself too closely with the fortunes of a bitter old crone who couldn’t broaden her appeal if she bought everyone’s groceries for a year, who then attempted to broaden her appeal with a naked racial libel purely to curry political favor with a nepobaby. Unlike you, I have my future to think of. Big thanks though.