LeFrak blasted for Trump ties as heavy artillery begins to come out in Jersey City BOE race


The Jersey City Board of Education contest is quickly becoming one of the more brutal ones in recent memory, with a mailer over the weekend targeting developer Richard LeFrak, who is behind a super PAC involved in the race, for his ties to President Donald Trump (R).

From left to right: Donald Trump, Karen LeFrak, Melania Trump and Richard LeFrak at an event in New York from 2007. Joe Schildhorn/ Patrick McMullan via Getty Image.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Trump Republican Richard LeFrak is spending big to take over [the] Jersey City school board,” the campaign literature, paid for by Garden State Forward – the New Jersey Education Association’s super PAC – says.

“Don’t let Richard LeFrak & ‘Change for Children’ take over our school board. Say no to Trump Republican Richard LeFrak’s Change for Children Team.”

The mailer cites two news reports: one from HCV that noted that Fairer NJ expects to spend $250,000 on the Jersey City BOE race and that the PAC is chaired by Jeremy Farrell,  former Jersey City corporation counsel and the current senior director for the LeFrak Organization.

The other report mentioned is a December 2018 report from NBC News detailing how Trump, LeFrak and Kushner real estate developments could benefit from federal “opportunity zones.”

The TV station refers to LeFrak as a “friend” and “longtime associate of Trump.”

Fairer NJ political consultant Mark Matzen dismissed the mailer as a “smokescreen” to cover up the shortcomings of the current board.

“This is just a smoke screen to try to cover up the failed policies and corruption of Sudan Thomas and the Board. The facts that matter are the board has failed our kids by laying off teachers and staff, cutting after-school and sports programs and using fiscal gimmicks and shenanigans to cover up a looming budget crisis that could close schools and dramatically increase property taxes,” he said.

“Most tragically, they have put the health and safety of our children at risk by doing nothing to fix the lead leeching into our schools water. When you can’t defend what you do, Sudan and his handlers always revert to name-calling and diversion. That’s a bad example to set for our students.”

Thomas, the board president and part of the Jersey City Education Association-backed Education Matters team, pointed out that the LeFrak Organization is still in court over a lawsuit to halt the city’s payroll tax – a lone fact that should give voters an easy choice on November 5th.

“The choice and contrast before Jersey City is vivid and clear. On one side is the Education Matters team with a proven track record of fighting for full funding, education of the whole child, facilities planning and labor contract negotiations backed by the JCEA which is a co-defendant with the City of Jersey in the fight for the payroll tax,” he said.

“On the other side we have a team of five individuals who have never attended a school board meeting, funded by a LeFrak – a New York-based builder who is a known confidant of Trump, and are a fighting a law suit to prevent the payroll tax implementation with the goal of defunding the Jersey City public schools.”

Change for Children campaign manager Wendy Paul fired back that while Thomas is correct in that a cursory assessment of the two slates is clear, the reason being is that her team is comprised of “respected and ethical community leaders” with “extensive education experience.”

Meanwhile, she asserts that Thomas is “under criminal investigation” for his tenure as acting executive director of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program.

While neither the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has not confirmed or denied that assertion, a former JCETP employee asked both law enforcement agencies to investigate Thomas for writing checks to cash prior to filing a whistleblower lawsuit against him.

Thomas responded by saying that his opposition is resorting to “lies and slander” out of desperation since they have failed to gain any traction to date.

Furthermore, Education Matters campaign manager Mike Greco accused the other side of “petty mudslinging,” adding that “it is typical of a Trump billionaire-funded slate of candidates to resort to name calling when they have nothing of substance to offer.”

It is not surprising that Trump is being used to try to hurt the credibility of local candidates in Jersey City, given that he was immensely unpopular there in the 2016 general election: garnering just roughly 14.2 percent of the vote.

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  1. The JCBOE is an utter joke. There’s always a team running under some marketing name like education matters or kids matter, etc.

    Look at the ratings of the high schools not named McNair:. Infinity ranked #21, Liberty #95, Dickenson #268, Ferris #327, Snyder #351-407, Innovation is unranked.

    Note that Infinity opened in 2010, Liberty in 1999.

    Liberty is the only success story rising from #268th to #95th in the State. The other main ones with history are perennial bottom dwellers Ferris was #299th in 2014 and got worse, and similarly Dickenson, Snyder.

    BOE has changed multiple times and the old schools only get worse or stay low.

    Why does anyone trust a team running if history has shown they cannot move the needle on public school rankings and just sit there and point fingers at Superintendents, charter schools, etc.

    Charters came to be because public schools were so bad the BOE lost curriculum and budget control to the state and now every BOE member for the last dozen or so years hates the Charters because of the tie to when the BOE failed the city.

    No wonder your child has to test into McNair and Infinity and not the others and families flee to the suburbs because of education.

    So see through the campaign nonsense and on Nov 5th vote for who you believe can actually make and want to make a real change that gives our kids better education, better teachers and improves high school rankings.