The 13-minute tape recording at the center of an alleged bid rigging controversy in Jersey City has surfaced eight days before the municipal elections, do you think it will have an impact on voters?
The February 2014 tape recording, first released this morning by Politico, features a conversation been Fulop’s then-Chief of Staff Muhammed Akil and Shawn “Sully” Thomas Sullivan – who was the chairman of the Jersey City Democratic Organization at the time.
“What I don’t like about this, see, f***ing straight up this is the kind of s*** where motherf***ers go to jail,” Akil says to Sullivan towards the end of the recording, which was accidentally left on Kakoleski’s voicemail after Akil didn’t hang up his phone.
Pandolfo sat on a three-person committee that oversaw requests for proposals, another scenario that didn’t sit well with Akil and Sullivan.
“Gotta get that guy out of that committee. F*** that,” Thomas says of Pandolfo.
“How am I going to transfer his ass out of there? I’ve got to be careful about transferring him out right now,” Akil responds.
The recording came to light as the result of a discrimination lawsuit filed by City Hall employee Dan Wrieden in late 2015.
In court depositions for the case, Business Administrator Robert Kakoleski and Dominick Pandolfo, who works under Kakoleski and is also a former chief of staff to ex-Mayor Jerramiah Healy, said that Akil and Thomas tried to steer an energy consulting contract to a specific vendor, Good Energy.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is seeking re-election on November 7th, where is challenged by Bill Matsikoudis, former City Corporation Counsel under Healy.
The incumbent has previously questioned the timing of he tape becoming a talking point and has repeatedly noted that the bid was cancelled and the “authorities” were alerted of what transpired, though has not specified which law enforcement agency was involved.
Court depositions also indicated that Akil and Sullivan, who still works at City Hall, never faced any discipline for their actions.
Fulop has also faced scrutiny over the fact that a managing partner for Good Energy made a $1,000 contribution to his campaign on September 7th, although the donation was perfectly legal within the confines of state election law.
Last week, the Jersey City council voted not to hear the tape recording between Akil and Thomas until after the election, but that closed session hearing now has little relevance now that the tape has been leaked.