Rep. Menendez & Bhalla continue brawling over Story Dispensary, Sen. Menendez


While U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla fought for a solid 12 rounds at last night’s debate, they’re still brawling today over quid pro quo allegations related to Story Dispensary and the corruption trial of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Through his spokesperson, Mayor Bhalla lied to the public about a no-bid contract his law firm received from Jersey City after Hoboken approved a cannabis dispensary for a property co-owned by Mayor Fulop’s wife,” Menendez said in a statement today.

“Ravi Bhalla needs to stop hiding, stop lying, and immediately be transparent with the public about all of his communications with Mayor Fulop regarding the cannabis dispensary and how the no-bid legal contract for his law firm came about.”

The claims stem from a lawsuit filed by former Hoboken Health and Human Services Director Leo Pellegrini in Hudson County Superior Court earlier this month.

At the debate, Bhalla said that the disgruntled former employee is being investigated by the FBI and everything he claimed in the suit is “pure utter nonsense.”

On February 24th, 2022, the Hoboken Cannabis Review Board approved a retail cannabis dispensary for Story Dispensary at 51-53 14th Street in Hoboken, which is a property co-owned by Jaclyn Fulop and Drew Nussbaum, the latter who is also the chair and treasurer of the Coalition for Progress super PAC that is supporting Steven Fulop for governor.

On April 19th, 2022, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency approved a no-bid legal contract with Bhalla’s law firm, Schenck, Price, Smith & King.

Menendez honed in on two things: one, that the building lease came with a provision that could allow for up to $1.1 million in profit upon sale under certain circumstances (Fulop told Politico that his family had “no economic interest in the dispensary).

The second being that Bhalla campaign spokesman Rob Horowitz had previously said that the JCRA was awarded through a competitive process, while the approved resolution says “Special Legal Services are professional services exempt from public bidding.”

Reiterating points he made at the debate, Menendez called on Bhalla to proactively release text messages, emails, and call logs with Fulop and John Allen related to the Schenck Price contract and/or Story, as well as communications with Pellegrini related to the aforementioned CRB meeting.

Pellegrini expressed support for Story at the February 24th, 2022 CRB meeting (he claimed in the lawsuit Bhalla pressured him to vote yes), according to an audio recording of the session.

“I want to echo the sentiments of my colleagues … I believe that members of the public are not aware of the process. And the process is pretty simple, the members of the city council voted this unanimously to have cannabis across the City of Hoboken,” he said at the time.

” … It was an education process tonight and I thought they [Story] did a great job. There were some concerns that I had, and some concerns that members of the public expressed to me were answered today.”

Horowitz said Menendez “is desperately and falsely attacking” Bhalla and Fulop as he continues to defend his “corrupt father” in a last ditch effort to maintain his seat.

“ … Contrary to the mountains of evidence, he continues to vouch for the integrity of his corrupt father, and has yet to commit to endorse Andy Kim for US Senate or even to commit to endorse the Democratic nominee because Senator Menendez is considering mounting an Independent bid for the same seat,” he said in a statement, reiterating that Pellegrini is under FBI investigation.

” … Rob Jr well-knows the that his false charges come from a questionable source and that his requests for information have mainly been responded to years ago, yet chooses to smear his opponent and the mayor of Jersey City. He has certainly learned well at his father’s knee.”

Additionally, an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request filed in February with the City of Jersey City seeking any emails of text messages between Fulop, Bhalla, Allen, and/or Nussbaum between January 2022 to present about Story Dispensary yielded no results.

The Democratic primary is on June 4th, which in the 8th Congressional District also features first time candidate Kyle Jasey.

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  1. Under advice of counsel, I am pleading the Fifth and will not provide any related text messages, emails, and call logs in regards to this ongoing investigation out of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

    Ravi’s buddy is gone and we’re in a lot of trouble.