Rep. Menendez says Bhalla broke campaign finance rules, mayor’s camp responds


U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) is going on offense against Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who announced he’d be running for Congress this morning, claiming he broke campaign finance rules, to which Bhalla’s camp disagrees.

U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Instagram photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I look forward to Mayor Bhalla explaining why his first act as a candidate was to skirt federal campaign finance laws by hiding his fundraising from the FEC and Hoboken voters,” Menendez said in a statement shortly after Bhalla made his candidacy official.

As of this writing, Bhalla has not filed any campaign finance reports with the FEC, despite indicating that he had already raised $509,000 last month.

Menendez’s 3rd quarter FEC report shows that he has $433,244.25 cash on hand.

FEC spokesman Myles Martin told HCV that they can’t “comment as to specific activities” related to candidates, deferring to the agency’s guidelines for candidates.

While federal candidates are allowed to “test the waters,” the FEC says that there is a $5,000 threshold that is recognized when “the individual and/or persons they have authorized to conduct campaign activity receive over $5,000 in contributions or make over $5,000 in expenditures.”

“An individual who merely tests the waters, but not to campaign for office, does not have to register or report to the FEC. This is the case even if the funds raised and spent to test the waters exceed the $5,000 candidate registration threshold,” the FEC says on their website.

“Nevertheless, all funds raised and spent during the testing the waters period must comply with the Federal Election Campaign Act’s (the Act) contribution limits and prohibitions.”

Bhalla for Congress spokesman Rob Horowitz was definitive in saying the Mile Square City mayor’s exploratory committee followed all campaign finance regulations.

“The Bhalla for Congress Exploratory Committee has followed all the applicable rules. All of our fundraising has adhered to the federal campaign limits and will be reported on schedule.”

While Bhalla field a statement of candidacy this afternoon, the paperwork inadvertently listed him as a congressional candidate in the 7th District as opposed to the 8th.

Menendez getting aggressive early isn’t much of a surprise given the intraparty warfare element to the race.

His bid to re-election got a boost recently when the Hudson County Democratic Organization and 10 local mayors, along with Hudson County Executive-elect Craig Guy, (followed by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer) endorsed him.

Notably absent is Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who said last week that the federal charges, which includes acting as a foreign agent to Egypt, against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) should have been denounced by his son, the congressman.

As a result, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said he wouldn’t be supporting Rob Menendez for another term.

Fulop has not indicated that he’d be supporting Bhalla or any other challenger as of yet, with Kyle Jasey, the son of outgoing Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), the only other declared candidate.

Bhalla and Fulop are the only two Hudson County mayors who have called on Bob Menendez to resign, with the latter stating in an interview with HCV in October that the Senate should expel him.

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  1. When Ravi loses again, do you think Schenck Price will still keep him on staff since John Allen is gone? If so, what’s the over/under on him getting censured by the State of NJ again? Debarred? What will become of this poor innocent victim who only wanted to help Hoboken? Surely his credit is nearly maxed out on his minority card.

  2. Censures
    Conflicts with tenants who got contracts
    Two jobs
    Hiring city architect for his own home
    Helping Union City fight Hoboken
    Helping Jersey City to stop RBD…
    Bhalla is not pro Hoboken he’s pro Bhalla

  3. Theres only one true progressive that should be considered for this seat, one person who leads progressive policies and vision like no one else can
    That person is Ron Bautista
    Ron can do anything
    From Mayor, to Council to County Commissioner
    Ron Bautista the independent choice who always in the end turns his back on the progressive council minority and sucks up to entrenched Bhalla machine in Hoboken