Why would Senate Majority Leader Sweeney violate ELEC laws?

I hate to harp on the same issues repeatedly, but a blatant violation of ELEC laws is irksome. It is quite apparent that Stephen Sweeney and Louis Magazzu are scoffing at ELEC.  Lou proudly publishes the people that donated to his failed NACo campaign. On the top of the list is Sweeney, with a $6,000 contribution from his freeholder campaign war chest.

Both Sweeney and Magazzu are intimately familiar with ELEC rules. You have to know what your campaign money can, and cannot be used for. As a refresher, here is the section of ELEC dealing with the ways campaign money can be legally used:

NJSA§19:44A-11.2(a) 98:
1. Section 17 of P.L.1993, c.65 (C.19:44A-11.2) is amended to read as follows:
17. a. All contributions received by a candidate, candidate committee, a joint candidates committee or a legislative leadership committee shall be used only for the following purposes:

(1) the payment of campaign expenses;

(2) contributions to any charitable organization described in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended or modified, or nonprofit organization which is exempt from taxation under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, except any charitable organization of which the candidate or a member of the candidate’s immediate family is a paid officer, director or employee or receives compensation for goods or services provided to the organization;

(3) transmittal to another candidate, candidate committee, or joint candidates committee, or to a political committee, continuing political committee, legislative leadership committee or political party committee, for the lawful use by such other candidate or committee;

(4) the payment of the overhead and administrative expenses related to the operation of the candidate committee or joint candidates committee of a candidate or a legislative leadership committee;

(5) the pro rata repayment of contributors; or

(6) the payment of ordinary and necessary expenses of holding public office.

Sweeney’s generous donation of $6,000 of his campaign money to Lou Magazzu’s personal campaign for NACo does not fall into any of the above categories, not even by the wildest imagination. And yet, ELEC has not taken any action on this, to my knowledge. What gives? Are certain politicians exempt from having to obey the law?

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3 Responses to Why would Senate Majority Leader Sweeney violate ELEC laws?

  1. Dose the law pertain to everone?

  2. Hang 'em High says:

    Alex,
    It’s kind of like the ethics laws that say you cannot hold more than one elective office UNLESS you already hold more than one. Steve Sweeney has been the champion of multiple political offices and his followers, John Burzichelli and Doug Rainear wagged their tails all the way to the bank.

    Laws pertain only to those who choose to obey them.

    And we keep re-electing these bozos. Shame on US

  3. Calhoun says:

    Carl, it is entirely plausible that the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) simply hasn’t gotten to it yet. To date, ELEC has filed four formal complaints against four separate candidates, Noelle Ditommaso (Lyndhurst Twp., Bergen Co.), Paul Horvath (Lyndhurst Twp., Bergen Co.), Diomedes Minaya (Passaic City, Passaic Co.), and Phillip Webb (Jersey City, Hudson Co.) on the ballot in 2009. These four complaints are dated either 8 or 9 June 2010 and were released on 16 June 2010. All of these individuals were candidates for municipal elections that were held on 12 May 2009. No complaints have yet been filed yet for any candidiates involved in the primary (held in June) or general (held in November) elections of 2009.

    Based on patterns from previous years, it would be highly unlikley that ELEC would file no complaints for any of the candidates in the state’s primary and general elections for 2009. Complaints were filed in every year from 2000-2008 for primary and general elections. Thus, I would anticipate more complaints to be filed by ELEC for candidates from the 2009 primary/general elections.

    Of course, the situations you have been focusing on are a bit different in that they involve money being transferred from existing campaign funds to Lou’s NACO account, which to the best of our knowledge was not a charitable organization or political committee. And, as such, your absolutely correct that such tranferrals of funds do not seem to meet any of the six criteria given in the law you cite. Thus, the contributions that would seem to be questionable under the ELEC law you cite would be the following: Sweeney for Freeholder, $6K, 2007; Cumberland County Democratic Organization, $10K loan, 2009; Election Fund of Jospeh Cryan, $500 (Cryan is the Majority Leader of the NJ Assembly); Election Fund of Glen Vetrano, $250 (Vetrano is a former Republican Freeholder from Sussex County); and Atlantic County Democratic Organization, $500.

    Carl, your list cites a Glenn Veterano. I am assuming this is actually the Glen Vetrano I have cited. If so, it is interesting that he is a Republican. He and Lou did team up back in 2008 to fight Corzine’s short-lived effort to eliminate NJ’s Department of Agriculture.

    Has anyone asked for a formal investigation? ELEC has a form that can be filled out at its website (it’s confidential). The website also has a “Requests for Investigations” line that one can call.

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