As noted in my previous posts, each day counting down to the election I am focusing on reasons not to re-elect Lou.
I’m using material culled from Magazzuwatch postings over the past ten months. Most of what we’ve claimed can be substantiated; there may be some inaccuracies, which you are free to point out. However, I think most value might be gained from this exercise if we look at the big picture — the sheer magnitude of the reasons why Lou Magazzu is not good for Cumberland County.
Numbering picks up from the previous Lou Chronicles post. This is the final part.
Today’s reasons are NACoGate and bringing outside influences, including machine politics, into Cumberland County.
In a post yesterday, Eyes Everywhere provided an excellent summary of NACoGate, along with still-unanswered questions.. I’ll summarize the NACo highlights.
62. Lou decides to run for Second VP of the National Association of Counties, or NACo in 2009. This is a national voluntary professional association of county officials. He needs to raise money to run for this office, so, on February 26, the freeholders pass a resolution to amend the county code of ethics so that he can start his fundraising.
63. Lou actually started campaigning for the office in January, when he and five other county officials (Thompson, Whelan and Pepitone as well as Sheriff Austino and Surrogate Rainear) attended an out-of-state NACo meeting. They were there to boost Lou’s campaign for NACo office. Magazzuwatch asked who paid for all of these officials going on this junket. Did Lou use the county coffers to advance his own private agenda? Were there resolutions of the Freeholder Board approving sending all those people to the NACo meeting? (Lou also campaigned for NACo office in 2008, when he billed the county for airfare and hotel, and for conference registration fees.)
64. In July, Lou attended a national meeting in Nashville, bringing along Sheriff Austino, Surrogate Rainear, and county Planning Director Kim Wood. Again, Magazzuwatch asked, “Who paid for all of this?” Lou’s response was that he was funded by his PAC, only it turned out that he didn’t have a PAC, and as an individual, could not have one. Then he admitted the county paid, and he said he would reimburse the county. At the national meeting, Lou’s bid for office was a total flop. Two states even refused to put his name on the ballot. He withdrew from the race.
65. It turns out that what Lou was calling a “PAC” was actually a slush fund that included contributions from many who want to do or are doing business with the county. The resolution passed by the freeholders permits Lou to raise this money, and numerous contributions came in after the code was amended. It looks like classic pay-to-play, but seems to skirt the law, in that the contributors did not give Lou money for a campaign for public office. They gave him “gifts” to campaign for NACo, a non-governmental office. Some of the “gifts” to Lou start to look like bribes.
66. Responding to pressure, Lou released a list of contributors to his NACo slush fund in September. Contributors were:
Stephen Sweeney – $6,000
Eugene W. Landy, Freehold NJ – $2,500.
District Council 711 PAC Fund – $5,000.
New Jersey UAW PAC Account – $5,000
Adams Rehmann & Heggan (Hammonton Engineering Firm) – $5,000
T&M Associates (Red Bank Engineering Firm) – $5,000
Mordecahi Neustadt & Alice Neustadt, Brooklyn NY – $5,000.
Fralinger Engineering PA ( Bridgeton Engineering Firm) – $5,000.
Arnold Robinson (Attorney, Millville) – $1,000
Kavanagh, Kavanagh and DiLazzero, LLC (Millville Law Firm) – $1,000.
Robert & Susan Malestein (Lawyers, Bridgeton ) – $500.
Landis Theatre Properties LLC – $500
Salmon Ventures Limited – $2,000.
Triad Advisory Services (Consultants) – $1,250.
SLRD Company-Mullica Hill LLC (environmental remediation, Mullica Hill) – $10,000.
Cumberland County Democratic Organization (Loan) – $10,000.
Joseph McKernan Architects (Cherry Hill)- $5,000
Goodman Properties (Developers) – $5,000.
Election Fund of Joseph Cryan – $500.
Election Fund of Glenn Veterano $250.
Jon Corzine (Governor) – $5,000
Atlantic County Democratic Organization – $500
Townsware Computers – (In kind contributions $750 website development and maintenance)
67. These gifts raise red flags all over the place.
- Why did Corzine give Lou $5,000 after he lost his NACo bid?
- Of great interest was the zero-interest $10,000 loan given to Lou by the Cumberland County Democratic Organization. Questions immediately arose about this loan, which Lou repaid on August 28, after questions were raised. He claimed he discussed the loan with his campaign manager, Brendan Kavanaugh. The problem was Lou had the loan in hand before Kavanaugh was named campaign chair. It looks as if Lou gave this loan from Democrat Party campaign coffers to himself. Questions remain. Louis refuses to answer. Who wrote the check? Who signed the check? Who approved the loan? Did the party treasurer know about/approve this loan? Magazzu is not allowing his treasurer to talk.
- On February 26, 2009, Fralinger Engineering was awarded a no-bid contract with the County to provide surveying services to the County Planning board through December 31, 2009. It was only about a week later, March, 6, 2009, that Magazzu reported that Fralinger Engineering “gave” his NACo slush fund $5,000.
- One of the contributors to Lou Magazzu’s NACo slush fund is engineering firm Adams Rehmann & Heggan. This firm has been implicated in pay-to-play schemes. In 2007, Assemblyman Frank Bodine joined the company with a no-show job. He was paid $3,000 per month as a consultant. Asked how many hours he works per week, he said, “I don’t necessarily put in any.” Bodine immediately rewarded his new employer with a lucrative government contract. Knowing the corrupt history of this company, one has to wonder why they would donate to Lou Magazzu’s secret slush fund, unless they were promised something in return.
- Republican research indicated that in the years 2007 and 2008 contributors to Lou’s NACo slush fund received $960,669 from Cumberland County, according to 1099s and W-2 forms obtained through OPRA requests.
68. As these “gifts” were to Mr. Magazzu personally he did not report them as political contributions, nor did he disclose them as gifts on his local Government Ethics Law Financial Disclosure Statements filed annually under N.J.S.A 40A:9-22.1. More questions: How can a sitting Freeholder solicit and accept “gifts” from people and companies doing business with the County and fail to disclose them as either “gifts” or contribution? Are people and companies who want to do business with the county going to have a fair opportunity to do so if they decline a solicitation from Mr. Magazzu for a “gift?” Isn’t this just a plain, old-fashioned shake down?
69. Lou’s Republican opponents referred the matter of Lou’s questionable slush fund to the state attorney general. It looks as if state law prohibits the Cumberland County Democratic Organization from loaning money to Mr. Magazzu for his personal purposes. Also, state law prohibits the “gift” to his fund from the Atlantic County Democratic Organization.
One of the biggest concerns with the list of contributors to Lou’s NACo slush fund is the out of area contributors. Lou pulls in money from and gives jobs to out-of-county parties, despite the desperate need of Cumberland County for jobs and income. Lou touts “buy local”, but doesn’t practice what he preaches. In some of these out-of-county deals it looks as if Lou is drawing in the corrupt politics that characterize northern New Jersey and the Camden area, via the Norcross machine.
70. The biggest puzzle on Lou’s list of NACo contributors is Rabbi Mordecahi Neustadt of Brooklyn, NY. Why would a 90-year old rabbi contribute $5,000 to Lou’s NACo campaign?
71. The county Democrats looked as if they are pretty well in the pocket of the Camden County Norcross machine. In the last 10 years the Cumberland County Democrat Party received nearly $100,000 from Camden County.
72. The county has a 15-year old policy that dictates that the county hire from within the county when possible. The exception is that the county is allowed to hire from outside if the other firm is “far more qualified”. Looks as if there are no qualified law firms in Cumberland, because the Cumberland County Planning Board attorney job went to an attorney from the Camden County firm Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader – Jim Florio’s firm. The attorney is Louis Cappelli, Jr., who is also the Freeholder Director for Camden County. Given the competition among counties for state and federal support, it’s probably not too difficult to conjure up a conflict of interest. It even gets more interesting. There were reportedly six bids for this job. Everyone bid the standard $125 an hour. The other five bids were from attorneys based in Cumberland County. Yet a Camden County attorney who is also the Freeholder Director in that county got the job.
73. Magazzu has worked too hard at accumulating his power and this has led him to take a lot of money from outside the County. Here are just a few recent examples. In 2008, the Cumberland County Democratic Organization received the following large donations: $12,500 from the Camden County Democratic Committee (George Norcross); $12,500 from The Leaders Fund, a Cherry Hill-based group with ties to George Norcross’s brother; and $37,000 from the Sweeney, Wallace, Demarco for [Gloucester Co.] Freeholders campaign.
74. Union contributions to Lou Magazzu’s Cumberland County Democratic Organization are also significantly from out of the county. Possibly Nelson Thompson had something to do with these. A lot of outside money is coming in.
Local 399 PAC (Westville, NJ)…………….$5,000
IUPAT District Council 21 (Philly)……….$10,000
IUOE Local (West Caldwell)…………………$500
District Council 711 PAC (Egg Harbor)… $11,000
BAC Admin. Council of NJ (Bordentown) $1500
UA Plumbers and Pipefitters……………… $1500
Roofers UL30 PAC (Philadelphia)……………$500
NJUAW PAC (Trenton)…………………… $5000
NJ State Laborers PAC (Monroe Twp.)…….. $2500
NJ Reg. Council of Carpenters (Edison, NJ) $10,000
Laborers Local 172 (Trenton)……………… $2500
IBEW Loc 351 (Pennsauken)…………… .$25,000
UA LU 322 PAC (Winslow Twp)…… …..$12,000
Tile, Marble & Terrazzo BAC Local 7 (Long Island City, NY)…$2000
75. JCA Associates of Moorestown, NJ gave over $125,000 to Louis Magazzu’s Cumberland County Democratic Organization starting in 1998. JCA is a consulting and engineering services company located in Burlington County. They are also lawbreakers. In June, 2004, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice secured guilty pleas from the president and two senior corporate executives of JCA Associates for filing fraudulent tax returns in order to conceal illegal campaign contributions.
76. ComPAC, NJ is the political action committee arm of Commerce Bank. Since 1999 ComPAC has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to election funds for officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Interestingly enough, the company’s investment arm, Commerce Capital Markets, earned millions of dollars underwriting municipal bonds approved by those same officials. Commerce Bank came under federal scrutiny for these practices. Lou Magazzu’s Cumberland County Democratic Organization received at least $13,000 from ComPAC since 1998.
77. Work will begin on the new procescutor’s office before the end of the year. The project architect is the firm of Lammey and Giorgio of Haddon Heights, NJ. As a firm they have contributed $4,800 to the Camden County Democratic machine. In addition, Anthony Giorgio, secretary-treasurer of this firm has contributed over $10,000 in his own name. William Lammey from the firm has contributed over $16,000. The firm can’t get work in Camden County due to pay-to-play laws, but there is nothing prohibiting it from getting work from other counties that are Democrat controlled. And when that county is beholden to the Norcross machine, it is not too difficult to connect the dots.
78. During the period from 1998 to 2009, Archer & Greiner, PC, George Norcross’ personal lawyers, donated to political campaigns, candidates and or parties a total of $412,500. Within that amount, Fisher, Sweeney, Burzichelli and the Camden County Democratic Committee received a total of $60,350. In turn, the Cumberland County Democratic Committee received a total of $61,500 in donations from Sweeney, Burzichelli, Fisher and the Camden County Democratic Committee. Last year, Archer & Greiner gave $7,800 to the 2008 campaign of Mr. Magazzu’s hand picked candidates, Jannarone, Dunkins and Whelan. In January 2009, the Cumberland County Board of Freeholders awarded Archer & Greiner a contract for eminent domain counsel services. Sounds like pay to play. Also, the firm was hired, thanks to Lou minion Joe Veight, as attorney for the Cumberland County Improvement Authority. Its job was to help get CCIA Director Steve Wymbs’ employment contract declared “null and void”. With his attorneys in control, Norcross is closer to getting his hands on the one large pot of flexible money in the county.
79. Genova Burns and Vernoia is a Newark, NJ politically connected law firm. They are affiliated with the worst corrupt politicians. Lou gave this North Jersey law firm $172,746 in taxpayer-financed business during 2007 and 2008. They got a new contract from the freeholders at their February 11, 2009 meeting. Recently the local press quoted high priced North Jersey attorney Angelo Genova speaking on behalf of Magazzu in relation to a possible criminal investigation about Magazzu’s actions that led to the start of NACo-Gate. Genova, close associate of corrupt North Jersey politicians under indictment, is also apparently a close associate of Magazzu.
80. In October 2009, election disclosure statements indicated Lou’s team had received $99,000 from interests outside of the county in a matter of weeks. This included $25,000 from the American Federation of Teachers in Washington D.C.; and $37,000 each from Camden County legislators : Lou “The Empty Suit” Greenwald and Joe Roberts. Why would Camden County Norcross lackeys dump thousands of dollars into Lou Magazzu’s lap weeks before the election? .
81. Royal Printing, a West New York-based business, is a major pay-to-play outfit. Mercer County Democrats were involved in purported pay-to-play with this company, a matter under investigation. They are also involved in the scandal surrounding the New Frontier PAC, which has been linked to recently indicted Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano. Royal Printing contributes thousands of dollars to the state Democratic Committee and to various democratic candidates. Cumberland County Freeholder resolution 2008-112 (Feb.28,2008) gave a no-bid contract to Royal Printing to print election ballots for $65,620.00. The contract was renewed in 2009 . Once again we have to ask why Lou Magazzu is sending Cumberland County dollars out of state. We have plenty of good printing companies in the county.
To sum Part 4 up, the best quote comes from a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter:
Democrats are sewing up their control of South Jersey, looking to create a solid southern block to match the clout of North Jersey’s Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Middlesex County powerhouses. Burlington County and its local governments — with their millions of dollars in contracts and potential sources of campaign donations — are key to the plan.
In all, Magazzuwatch has given you 81 reasons not to vote for Lou. In a couple days, we’ll know how far our word has spread. As to the outcome of the election, I’ll offer some thoughts tomorrow under the post “Even if We Lose, We Win”
And last, let me offer this final thought to ponder on your way to the polls:
- The all-Democratic freeholder board voted unanimously 465 times out of 467 votes between Jan. 1 and July 1, 2009.