Real estate tycoon Mack-Cali Property Trust has spent $30,000 to bolster a super PAC getting involved in at least one Hoboken City Council race, poised to spend at least $19,420 to aide the challenger in the 1st Ward.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
NJ Community Initiatives received a $30,000 contribution from Mack-Cali on October 18th, according to an October 25th filing with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
NJ Globe first made mention of the filing when reporting on various independent expenditure reports filed ahead of Election Day on November 5th.
The PAC, chaired by Louis Venezia, the chief of the Bloomfield Fire Department and the mayor’s brother, then paid $19,420 to the Belmar-based firm Round World Consulting, the report says.
That money has been earmarked for direct mail, printing and postage, for Migdalia Pagan-Milano, who is seeking to unseat 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco.
DeFusco, who had previously linked the PAC to Fairview Insurance, a city vendor, following a report by HCV connecting the PAC to the Hoboken municipal elections, predictably denounced outside money entering the race in the 11th hour.
“We are now just eight days away from an election that will determine the future of our city, and it is outrageous that Migdalia Pagan-Milano is willing to accept this kind of shady support,” he said in a statement.
“Money from major real estate players like Mack-Cali doesn’t come for free, and First Ward voters deserve to know exactly what kind of shady deal Migdalia and the Mayor made to win this support.”
In response, Rob Horowitz, a spokesman for the five-person slate backed by Mayor Ravi Bhalla, clarified that Mack-Cali has not made any direct donation to Pagan-Milano and also reiterated that DeFusco routinely violated the city’s pay-to-play rules.
“Councilman DeFusco knows full well that the contribution from Mack-Cali was made to the NJ Community Initiatives PAC – not to Ms. Pagan-Milano, but chooses to misleadingly conflate the two,” he began.
“As she has stated all along, Migdalia Pagan-Milano strongly prefers that all outside money stay out of the first Ward. And unlike Mr. DeFusco, who continues to blatantly violate Hoboken’s local pay-to-play reform and related campaign finance laws, Migdalia Pagan-Milano is strictly adhering to these regulations designed to protect the integrity of our elections and safeguard our redevelopment agreements and city contracts.”
HCV exclusively reported last month that NJ Community Initiatives hired Stephanie Wohlrab as their fundraiser, a Democratic mainstay who has worked with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and Bhalla (when he was a councilman).
She also has previously had ties with Fairview Insurance, who have not confirmed or denied having any involvement with NJ Community Initiatives.
Sean Darcy, a principal at Round World Consulting and a spokesman for the PAC, said that the group supports “strong, effective leaders on all levels of government” and thinks Pagan-Milano “would be an outstanding councilwoman.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with a comment from NJ Community Initiatives spokesman Sean Darcy.