Hoboken will try to enforce pay-to-play laws, which won’t be altered until after November

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In light of a legal opinion from outside counsel, Hoboken officials, including Mayor Ravi Bhalla, have decided that they will try to enforce their current pay-to-play laws through the November 5th ward council races, after which they’ll consider making changes.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Recently, my Administration had the opportunity to review a legal opinion prepared by outside counsel on the City of Hoboken’s pay-to-play reform and related campaign finance ordinances,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.

“That opinion found aspects of our laws problematic and recommended the complete repeal of the City’s campaign finance legal framework. I reject this throw the baby out with the bath water approach. When I ran for Mayor, I abided by our City’s laws and I believe all candidates running should do the same. I remain absolutely steadfast in my commitment to honest government and I will continue to defend Hoboken’s elections from outside influence from developers and special interests.”

The mayor continued that he expects all candidates to “adhere to the same set of fundraising rules,” applauding Council members-at-Large James Doyle and Emily Jabbour for putting up a resolution for next week’s council meeting reaffirming the current pay-to-play regulations.

As HCV first reported, Ray Hamlin, of the law firm Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley recommended that the city repeal their pay-to-play regulations since they may be unconstitutional and are unenforceable.

Under state law, political action committees can donate up to $2,600 to individual candidates, but in the Mike Square City, they can only donate a maximum of $500.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco wrote off the resolution as an election season stunt to steer the conversation away from a super PAC, NJ Community Initiatives, which is expected to get involved in the council races.

“This is a blatant attempt by the Mayor to distract attention away from the fact that his slate of Council candidates is being supported by a powerful, dark money Super PAC controlled by the city’s health insurance vendor,” DeFusco said in a response.

“The Mayor and his allies can continue trying to divert attention, but what Hoboken voters truly care about is the integrity of our upcoming election. That’s why at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting I will be introducing a resolution denouncing the influence of dark money on our local politics and calling on all Council candidates to reject support from Super PACs.”

In response, Bhalla spokesman Rob Horowitz said that DeFusco has routinely violated the city’s pay-to-play laws in the past, which is why his vote next week will be significant.

“Mike DeFusco can keep trying to change the subject and running away from his record, but he can’t hide. His moment of truth is Wednesday night,” Horowitz said.

“His vote on the resolution will speak volumes about whether or not he plans to continue to blatantly violate the very Hoboken laws that are designed to protect the integrity of our elections and city contracting process,” pointing out that 2nd Ward Councilwoman filed a complaint with the city about DeFusco’s fundraising practices back in October 2017.

However, the matter was never discussed or considered since the current pay-to-play laws are unenforceable.

As far as the PAC, which was incorporated on July 29th, is concerned, no one has commented on which candidates they’ll be supporting or even which municipalities they’ll be involved in this election cycle.

Nevertheless, DeFusco, as he did our TV show yesterday, has accused Fairview Insurance of being behind the operation.

Stephanie Wohlrab, a professional fundraiser and the Brick Board of Education president, has been hired to raise money for the PAC.

She came under fire last year after she voted on Fairview contract with the Brick BOE after they had donated $28,000 to a different super PAC she had formed, Brick Shorebeat reported.

Additionally, Louis Venezia, the chair of NJ Community Initiatives, is the chief of the Bloomfield Fire Department and also the brother of Mayor Michael Venezia, a township that uses Fairview as their health insurance provider.

Fairview Insurance did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday.

47 COMMENTS

      • Quite the whataboutism there. Tiffanie didn’t put forward the subject legislation. So, let’s stop with the distractions and acknowledge the self-righteousness of Jim and Emily who benefited quite handsomely from the independent expenditure that’s was so hungry for a massive NJT development. (We’re about to start delivering the payback on that on Wednesday, did you notice?) ‘Slatebaits’ must be excited about the avalanche of money on its way from NJ Community Initiatives.

        • Jim and Emily benefited quite handsomely.

          How exactly? Exactly how? You put it out there. Back it up, Tiff.

          You’re starting to sound as conspiracy-addicted as the Islamophobe owner of the dead blog that publishes your press releases.

          • Please excuse Tiffy’s she has always been a mean spirited passive aggressive personality.
            Also don’t expect any real facts to back up her snide remarks. She never actually has any.

          • Oh look, Ravi’s demented Nazi graphic maker is triggered. Now she’s attacking a councilwoman with no evidence! Back to court again for stupid lying! Wasn’t she going to stay in her cave where Ravi operatives talk to each other? Like anyone cares what a bunch of dirty, filthy liars say. Go defend the filthy Ravi Terror flier, the coverup these scumbags love to do as Ravi’s illegal Dark 💰 Money pours in. 100% corrupt!

          • Most rational people don’t buy that convoluted scenario and think that one of DeFusco’s crew made and distributed that flyer attacking Bhalla.

            It is clear by the words and tone of his on line supporters that DeFusco has surrounded himself with people who would be capable of that kind of dirty politics.

            Recent Federal legal events and convictions involving DeFusco’s financiers makes it even more logical that his crew responsible.

          • Oh look, it’s Tiff’s Islamophobe dead blog owner. Whatsa matter? No VisionMedia press releases to publish for Defusco and Fischer today? Go look for some Limes instead, Lime Jockey. $4 is $4.

        • These Ravibot morons actually think you’re a councilwoman and insist any evidence which points to the obvious dirty underhanded activities by the Ravi crew is never to be spoken. They always try to cover it up and have a long period of lying ahead. Not to mention what BS they keep trying to sell about DeFusco with the Ravi Terror Flier. I may not agree with DeFusco often but these a$$holes are trying to tag him for that flier which is stupid but they will go very, very stupid to cover up.

          • There are always Limes under the bridge at the end of Newark. You can tell everyone your theories while you walk there. Speaking of your theories, have you told Chief Ferrante what a failure he is for not solving a crime that you solved two years ago? Maybe you should share your evidence with him.

    • Leave it to Tiffanie to call a commitment to ending the past dark practices of election day vote buying through street money being “self-righteous.”

      You will not be missed.

    • We’re stronger together when we do dirty deeds together.
      Hey, how about Ravi have City Hall buy more of our insurance?
      Thank you very much Team Bhalla.

  1. I see lots of 1st ward bars like mcswiggans and ferryman on first have big Migdalia Pagan Milano signs outside, what’s up with that? I though Mikey was the bars’ best bud, hmm. Heard he’s allegedly freaking out and harassing the bars to take down the signs but they told him to f%&* off, LOL! oh my, things not looking good for Mikey, time to hit the Vision Media speed dial (again), pronto. Slip sliding away…

    Karma, baby.

    • Also, is it true Mike is doing a fundraiser at 10th & Willow??? How telling is it that he can’t even find a bar in his own ward to host it, either he doesn’t give a crap about them or they don’t give a crap about him (hence the signs).

      Maybe I’m just old school but I thought candidates held events to a) raise funds and b) interact with their constituents. What constituents does Mike have uptown where people can’t vote for him? Maybe it’s a reflection of how he DOESN’T have enough supporters in his own ward to hold the event. Too bad outside developers and unions can’t vote in ward elections, huh? That’s not very vibrant.

    • Migdalia promised to bring back St Pats parade
      What does she care she lives high above the fray in a subsidized apartment others have died waiting for….

        • Where’s the link to all Migdalia’s efforts over the years?
          The created paper/service trail of the last 1.5 years is a joke. The LGBT “FOAM” party was a flop. She lived here “all her life” her words- yet she can only go back TWO years. Service is something you do from the heart, not for a paycheck. She is a paid hack.

  2. Migdalia is ground zero now for pub crawl promises and St Pats parade return
    Bhalla blocked the anti pub crawl ordinance.
    Facts…

    • First Ward bar owners have becomes disillusioned with MDF promising much but delivering nothing.

      As we see all too often his online attack crew makes up false claims which only results in further sullying his already sullied image.

      Like Frank Raia recently convicted on multiple counts of voter fraud in Hoboken, Councilman DeFusco has surrounded himself with some of the most ethically challenged.

      • Glad Mike failed at giving the bar owners another pub crawl… Will Migdalia wash our vomit covered stoops?
        If she needs to know what a stopp is have her ask Team Bhalla, they all live in million dollar homes except her…She prefers taking a poor persons unit…

      • Good, since when was “reform” concerned about any “bar owners” let alone 1st ward bar owners?
        Zimmer hated the bars and especially the Irish bar owners when she viciously went after the grass roots St Pat’s parade committee .

        Ravi is cutting deals for his candidates now because they are broke. Migdalia and Lisa have no resources and they are going to be blown outta the sky. Ravi is using them.

  3. It’s all starting to stick: DeFusco’s a big whiff. Talks a lot but has nothing to show for it. C’mon, blogger and Vision Media, let us know what he’s accomplished. Tell us. Give voters reasons why they should vote for Mike. Please. Tell us. Give us even one accomplishment that’s benefited the 1st ward. Just one. Anything. Hello? Hello? Anyone there?

      • I’m more inclined to give the new person a shot — you know, the whole fresh new ideas thing! — over a guy who’s had an entire term to live up to his own hype and hasn’t accomplished jack.

  4. So the ‘list Defusco’s accomplishments’ bit is RaviBots new rallying cry?

    Have you guys seen the list of ‘accomplishments’ that Ravi’s slate (other than Cohen, maybe?) has? Its the same as DeFusco’s!

    NothingBurger, am I right?

    • Um, this seems obvious but I guess I have to explain: Mike’s the one who’s held office for a term, the question is what has he accomplished as a councilperson. Mig has never been on the city council, how can she have accomplishments? We’re talking about office holders.

      So…STILL unable to come up with ANY accomplishments for Mike, huh? Just one. Anything. Hello?

      • His record is what it is. I’m not defending it.

        What doesn’t make sense is that Migdala is the answer simply by virtue of not being Defusco. What has SHE done? Why should I vote for HER? Because she’s not Mike? That theory was shot down that theory when I presented in the other direction (people won’t vote for Ravi’s slate cuz they don’t like Ravi) in comments in another article.

        The 1st ward simply doesn’t have a good candidate. No matter who you’re voting for youve got to hold your nose and press the button.

        In the end we all lose.

        • Valid point, neither candidate is a rock star. Ideally, residents should vote for the candidate they like instead of simply voting against a candidate they don’t like.

          That being said, it’s still valid to expect an incumbent to be judged by their accomplishments while in office.

  5. What kind of promises did Ravi pledge to the 1st street bar owners to get them to support the City Hall Puppet of the 1st ward?
    Bar Crawls?
    Parades?
    Late nights?
    Boozey Brunches starting at 7 am?
    24 Hour bars?
    Strip clubs?
    Who knows?
    Now that he’s made his Chief of Staff the ABC attorney anything is possible.

    • LOL!!!!! Are you seriously linking to THAT?? OMG, did you even read it? The blurb on Mike reads: “Having dethroned a veteran incumbent four years ago, and running a spirited campaign for mayor in 2017, the millennial councilman is up for re-election this year in a much-watched contest.”

      So tell us, where does it highlight any of his accomplishments? Is this like Little League where he gets a trophy for “running a spirited campaign”? Can’t make this s%$t up.

      Also, funny how the list also includes Team Ramos/Giattino/Fisher/DeFusco PR boss Mike S at Vision Media, hmm.

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