Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, a integral part of Council President Jen Giattino’s mayoral campaign, has filed a complaint against 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco alleging he has violated local pay-to-play laws.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“In Hoboken, we suffer from a long history of corruption and malfeasance in our elections and as such, I have been actively fighting for honest elections. In 2011, this law was passed specifically to help minimize the role and influence of special interests in our elections and our local government,” Fisher said in a statement.
“The fact that a mayoral candidate has willingly violated these laws for his own advantage in this important election for Hoboken residents is shameful. I have requested that the law be enforced, and that Councilman DeFusco’s campaigns be fined the maximum amount provided under the law which is $285,600.”
In a letter sent to Hoboken Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia, as well as City Clerk James Farina, earlier today, Fisher further explains her position on the matter, noting that committees and PACs are supposed to be limited to no more than $500.
As Hudson County View detailed, DeFusco received robust labor union support in his 2nd quarter and 29-day New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission reports, with three contributing at least $10,000 each to the DeFusco team campaign account.
In total, Fisher cites 15 contributions that are above the $500 threshold established by Hoboken’s pay-to-play laws.
Chapter 20D: was adopted in 2011 by ordinance Z-134. The stated purpose was to:
“control the use of wheeling to usurp the goals of the New Jersey Campaign Contribution and Expenditures Reporting Act for elected officials of the City of Hoboken. As a result, the City hereby enacts this chapter to enforce contribution limits on a local level in an attempt to stifle wheeling during the City’s local municipal elections,” Fisher wrote.
“I ask that you investigate this and enforce the statutory code of Hoboken as a matter of urgency as the amounts received provide a decided, unfair advantage to his campaign in the election for Mayor and negatively prejudice all of the other campaigns who have honored and upheld this law.”
DeFusco campaign manager Ryan Yacco said that the DeFusco campaign is “in full compliance with all relevant election laws,” noting that Fisher and Giattino did not have a problem when labor unions supported incumbent Dawn Zimmer in 2013.
“We are aware that a complaint has been filed regarding the city’s local campaign finance ordinance, however we have no indication that the contributions in question are in violation and believe that this complaint is a blatantly political attempt by a Republican campaign to stifle the first amendment rights of labor unions,” Yacco said.
“Many of these same unions contributed to Mayor Zimmer’s 2013 re-election campaign, which Councilwoman Giattino and Councilwoman Fisher apparently had no issue with at the time.”
Yacco also called the November 7th municipal elections a time for voters “to move on from establishment politicians like Jen Giattino” who have not delivered.
Back in July, DeFusco called out Giattino for not filing a 2nd quarter report with ELEC, though Giattino’s campaign had previously cited that candidates who file within 5 months of the 29-day report do not have to file quarterly.