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How Charles Kushner and Golan Cipel helped Jim McGreevey rise

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					  SPECIAL REPRINT SECTION



                        F R I E N D          O F    T H E      P E O P L E         I T     S E R V E S
                                               www.northjersey.com


                  This special reprint section of The Record explains how the
                 dogged efforts of investigative reporters exposed “pay-to-play”
                political corruption in New Jersey. Their efforts — and the federal
                    investigations that followed those efforts — brought down
                 a governor, brought prison sentences for two of the governor’s
                    key fund-raisers and led to the first fundamental political
                       reforms in the history of New Jersey, a state plagued
                     by systemic political corruption for more than a century.


                                             Published Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004




  Sex, money, power,
   betrayal, and ruin
How Charles Kushner and Golan Cipel
 helped Jim McGreevey rise, then fall




By ELISE YOUNG and JEFF PILLETS              real-estate companies. His reward would      probably the best in the world — not
STAFF WRITERS                                be a seat on the board of the Port           probably, they do do the best in the
                                             Authority of New York and New Jersey,        world,” he answered. “So we are examin-
  “Thou art dust …” the priest recited,      just as it was starting to redevelop lower   ing bid specifications.”
smudging Jim McGreevey’s forehead            Manhattan.                                      McGreevey went to bed that night
with the holy sign on Ash Wednesday,           McGreevey had others to satisfy that       unaware that his 28th day in office was
2002.                                        day, journalists who were raising a fuss     the high point of his administration. It
  The Catholic rite was tucked into the      about his budget cuts. A reporter asked      was the day he appointed two men who
governor’s day. His schedule was             whether his administration planned to go     had come looking for power and pres-
crammed with meetings, limousine rides       ahead and spend $6 million on digitized      tige. He used them for what they had to
— and a special presentation for Charles     driver’s licenses, considered essential to   offer in return.
Kushner, a very generous campaign            security after the Sept. 11 attacks.            Businessman, confidant, politician.
donor. Charlie, as he was known to the         “We actually brought on a security         That’s how these three wanted to be
governor, had controlling interests in 216   adviser from the Israeli Defense forces,                              See RISE Page 3
2 THE RECORD                      +                                                                                                                                                                                 JANUARY 2005




 “Friend of the People It Serves”
    ESTABLISHED JUNE 5, 1895
                                                The Record’s fight to reform
                                                 corrupt campaign finance
         Malcolm A. Borg
       Chairman of the Board
       Jonathan H. Markey
            President
          Vivian Waixel
        Executive Editor and
           Vice President
                                                                 he fall of New Jersey                        Jersey’s “pay-to-play” campaign fi-                               This work produced profound re-




                                               T
          Frank Scandale
              Editor                                             Gov. Jim McGreevey                           nance cartel. When he quit, his entire                         form. Jim McGreevey’s last days in of-
          Arthur Lenehan
                                                                 was a national spec-                         organization was unraveling, under                             fice were days of contrition and regret.
          Managing Editor                                        tacle in the summer                          pressure from federal investigations                           He denounced his own fund-raising
        Richard E. Benfield
                                                                 of 2004. It played                           that followed newspaper stories.                               methods. His last important official act
        Editorial Page Editor                                    out on television as                            The Record has conducted a mas-                             was to ban pay-to-play by executive
                                                                 a sex scandal. But                           sive and unrelenting investigation of                          order, an order with the force of law.
                                                                 McGreevey’s prob-                            pay-to-play. Over the course of 2½                             His successor, Senate President
            John Borg                                            lems were deeper.                            years and five major investigative proj-                       Richard J. Codey, has asked the New
        Publisher 1922-1948                      His top fund-raiser, billionaire                             ects, the staff filed thousands of re-                         Jersey Legislature to enact a statute
         Donald G. Borg                        Charles Kushner, had been exposed in                           quests for public records on campaign                          that would make the ban permanent.
         Editor 1932-1975                      The Record as a manipulator of cam-                            finance and government contracts. In-                             The stories on these pages explain
                                               paign finance regulations. Another key                         formation on those requests was fed                            how all of this unfolded. The first story
                                               fund-raiser, David D’Amiano, had im-                           into a lattice of databases and corre-                         is a narrative published a week after
           Contact us:                         plicated McGreevey in connection                               lated with hundreds of interviews. One                         Governor McGreevey’s resignation.
           The Record
        150 River Street
                                               with a corrupt land deal linked to cam-                        analysis after another illuminated dif-                        The rest run chronologically, retracing
   Hackensack, N.J. 07601-7172                 paign finance. McGreevey was the ar-                           ferent aspects of the systemic corrup-                         events as they originally unfolded in
         201-646-4000                          chitect and chief beneficiary of New                           tion.                                                          the pages of the newspaper.




                                                Jim McGreevey’s rise and fall
     Sept. 16, 1997 — Jim McGreevey, a state sena-                                                                 ment. Fifteen days later, he is hired as a vice         lian” — to indicate that state officials could deliv-
     tor and the mayor of Woodbridge, who is run-                                                                  president at MWW, a public relations company in         er on their promise to preserve the farm.
     ning for governor, meets with Charles A. Kushn-                                                               East Rutherford. He leaves after four weeks, and
     er, a multimillionaire real estate magnate, Jewish                                                            for the next several months he takes a series of        July 14, 2004 — Kushner is charged in an un-
     philanthropist, and contributor to Democratic                                                                 similar jobs.                                           seemly plot allegedly designed to interfere with
     and Republican causes. A day later, four people                                                                                                                       the federal investigation into his business prac-
     — all with the last name Kushner, and all who list                                                            Nov. 24, 2002 — Six lobbyists in Trenton tell The       tices. The U.S. Attorney’s Office accuses him of
     their employer as a Kushner company — donate                                                                  Record that they had been approached by the             hiring two prostitutes to seduce his brother-in-
     a combined $8,200 to McGreevey’s campaign.                                                                    Democratic State Committee and offered meet-            law and accountant, setting up a video camera to
     McGreevey would go on to lose the race by 1                                                                   ings with the governor — for contributions of           record the encounters, and using the tapes to
     percentage point to incumbent Christie Whit-                                                                  $25,000.                                                blackmail the men. In an unrelated development,
     man.                                                                                                                                                                  Commerce Bancorp closes its municipal bond
                                                                                                                   Dec. 4, 2002 — Republican lawmakers send the            underwriting business. Commerce’s earlier politi-
     Dec. 5, 1997 — Kushner makes the first in a se-                                                               U.S. attorney a letter asking for an investigation      cal contributions had come under scrutiny by The
     ries of political contributions that eventually will                                                          into Democratic fund-raising practices.                 Record.
     attract the attention of the Federal Election Com-     Dec. 7, 2001 — The McGreeveys’ daughter, 4-
     mission. During 13 days this year, he gives a total    pound, 5-ounce Jacqueline Matos McGreevey, is
                                                            born at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New         Feb. 26, 2003 — Kushner resigns from the Port           Aug. 8, 2004 — “Under the influence,” a seven-
     of $554,000.                                                                                                                                                          part series by Staff Writers Herb Jackson and
                                                            Brunswick, a month premature. The same day,            Authority board. In a statement he says his only
                                                            McGreevey’s incoming senior staff meets Cipel          motivation to serve “was merely to perform pub-         Benjamin Lesser, explains how organized labor,
     Feb. 9, 1998 — McGreevey forms the Commit-             for the first time.                                    lic service with nothing in return except the op-       real estate and construction companies, and
     tee for Working Families, a federal political ac-                                                             portunity to make a positive impact on people’s         scores of other special interests give generously
     tion committee. Through mid-2001, when the or-                                                                lives.” He makes no mention of his serious legal        to campaigns — and are richly rewarded with
     ganization was shut down, Kushner and his              Jan. 15, 2002 — McGreevey takes office. With-                                                                  contracts, tax breaks and favorable legislation.
                                                            out any kind of announcement, he makes Cipel a         problems: In 2002 he had been sued by
     business partners supply $140,000, or more                                                                    his brother and a former Kushner Cos.
     than 35 percent of its revenues. Among the             homeland security adviser — a job that comes
                                                            with an $80,000 salary, an office at the State         bookkeeper, who claimed the developer
     PAC’s covered expenses are McGreevey’s two                                                                    diverted $3 million to finance his favorite
     trips to Israel.                                       House and two assistants.
                                                                                                                   politicians. Moreover, Republican law-
                                                                                                                   makers suggest that Kushner’s controlling
     Feb. 18, 1999 — The state Assembly passes a            Feb. 1, 2002 — The new governor, a guest at the        interest in a Livingston bank precludes
     bill to require potential candidates to report their   Peter Shields Inn in Cape May with his wife,           him from donating to candidates for pub-
     finances and put a limit on contributions they ac-     breaks his leg during a nighttime walk on Poverty      lic office.
     cept. The legislation is known around the State        Beach. In the coming weeks, a rumor circulates
     House as “the McGreevey bill” because it would         in Trenton: McGreevey had been walking with
                                                            Cipel, not his wife.                                   May 21, 2003 — A Record series, “Bank-
     affect his well-financed Committee for Working                                                                ing on your money,” examines how fast-
     Families.                                                                                                     growing Commerce Bancorp wields
                                                            Feb. 13, 2002 — McGreevey names Kushner to             heavy influence over some of New Jer-
     Feb. 14, 2000 — Dina Matos, a hospital public-         the board of the Port Authority of New York and        sey’s most powerful politicians.
     relations executive from Newark, accepts Mc-           New Jersey. The position is potentially lucrative:
     Greevey’s marriage proposal over dinner in a           Kushner has interests in 216 real estate compa-
                                                            nies at a time when the Port Authority is to start                        June 7, 2003 — Rajesh
     Woodbridge restaurant.                                                                                                           “Roger” Chugh, a Mc-
                                                            redeveloping the World Trade Center site.
                                                                                                                                      Greevey appointee, re-
     March 2000 — McGreevey, in Israel on a trip                                                                                      signs as the third-ranking offi-     Aug. 12, 2004 — McGreevey gathers the media
     sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of                               Feb. 21, 2002 — The Record                            cial in the New Jersey Depart-       outside his office, where he discloses he is a ho-
     MetroWest, is introduced to Golan Cipel.                                   reports that Cipel — whom                             ment of State. His departure         mosexual who had committed adultery. As a re-
                                                                                McGreevey called his “eyes                            comes four days after a              sult, he says, the governor’s office is vulnerable
                                                                                and ears on security issues” —                        Record reporter confronted           to “rumors, false allegations and threats of dis-
     July 28, 2000 — McGreevey files papers with the                            has little experience in coun-                        him with court documents re-         closure,” and he chooses to resign effective in
     state Election Law Enforcement Commission to                               terterrorism. His specialty is                        lated to his former career as a      mid-November. Although he doesn’t publicly
     launch his run for governor. Kushner releases a                            public relations, and he is a     CHUGH
                                                                                                                                      travel agent. The records            name his former lover, several sources identify
     statement: “I’m thrilled by this announcement                              published poet. The governor      chronicle a history of writing bad checks and            him as Cipel — and say he had threatened to sue
     and I will be tireless in my efforts to elect Jim Mc-                      declines to make Cipel avail-     leaving air carriers with $319,000 in losses.            the governor for harassment.
     Greevey.” Less than two weeks later, eight peo-                            able for interviews, and legisla-
     ple — all with the last name Kushner, and all who                          tors start to question his cre-
     list their employer as a Kushner company — do- CIPEL                       dentials.                         Aug. 17, 2003 — “McGreevey’s man in Little In-           Aug. 15, 2004 — The Record reports that Cipel
     nate a combined $16,800 to McGreevey’s pri-                                                                  dia,” a report by Staff Writers Jeff Pillets and Clint   had wanted McGreevey to help open a medical
     mary campaign.                                                                                               Riley, chronicles how Chugh preyed on fellow             school in New Jersey for Touro College. Among
                                                           March 7, 2002 — Cipel resigns as security advis- South Asian immigrants to raise more than $1                   the school’s trustees is Kushner.
                                                           er after McGreevey acknowledges that his status million for McGreevey’s campaigns.
     September 2000 — Kushner                              as a foreign national made him ineligible for high-
     pays $3.4 million for Highview                        level intelligence clearance. The governor,
     Planning, a Woodbridge insur-                         nonetheless, gives him another job and a                                         Dec. 28, 2003 — A two-
     ance company partly owned                             $30,000 raise. Cipel’s new title is “special advis-                               part series in The Record,
     by Gary Taffet, a onetime chief                       er,” his salary, $110,000.                                                        “He plays, you pay,” re-
     of staff to then-Mayor Mc-                                                                                                              veals how a Teaneck law
     Greevey. Taffet would go on to                                                                                                          firm earns more than $10
     become a Kushner employee                             April 5, 2002 — The McGreeveys move into                                           million per year in no-bid
     and later, the governor’s chief                       Drumthwacket, whose $590,000 renovation —                                          contracts with the state
     of staff. He would leave poli-                        overseen by the private, non-profit Drumthwack-                                    — and how the firm’s
                                                 KUSHNER
     tics in 2003 amid an investiga-                       et Foundation — is complete. In all, 41 individu-                                  employees give nearly
     tion of his involvement with a billboard advertis- als, companies and firms contributed to the reno-                                      $500,000 per year to po-
     ing company from which he earned at least $2.4 vation of the 1835 mansion built by Charles                                                litical campaigns.
     million.                                              Smith Olden. At least four of those companies
                                                           are controlled by Kushner.
                                                                                                                                                Jan. 18, 2004 — The
     Oct. 1, 2000 — McGreevey and Matos marry.                                                                                                  Record chronicles how
                                                           May 30, 2002 — The Senate Judiciary Commit-                         a deceased lawyer was listed as a
                                                           tee unanimously approves Kushner for Port Au-                                                                   Aug. 18, 2004 — Kushner pleads guilty in the
     September 2001 — Cipel moves to New Jersey thority board membership. Afterward, several                      contributor to political campaigns. The story
                                                                                                                                                                           plot to blackmail his brother-in-law and account-
     on a work visa sponsored by Kushner. Mc-                                                                     highlights serious problems with laws adminis-
                                                           senators concede they are unfamiliar with Kush- tered by the state’s Election Law Enforcement                   ant. He also admits to lying to officials with the
     Greevey, the Woodbridge mayor, instructs a            ner and his vision for the Port Authority.                                                                      Federal Election Commission and filing false tax
     Township Hall staffer to find Cipel a car and a                                                              Commission.
                                                                                                                                                                           returns. The plea agreement stipulates he will be
     place to live — which turns out to be a town                                                                                                                          imprisoned for up to two years.
     house a block from McGreevey’s home in                                   June 16, 2002 — The Record                              July 7, 2004 — David D’Ami-
     Woodbridge. Cipel accepts two jobs: The                                  publishes “Paying for power,” an                        ano, a former Democratic
                                                                               examination of how Kushner —                                                                Sept. 16, 2004 — D’Amiano admits he extorted
     Democratic State Committee pays him                                                                                              fund-raiser, is indicted on
                                                                               by now McGreevey’s choice for                                                               $40,000 in campaign contributions from a Mid-
     $30,000 per year to serve as McGreevey’s li-                                                                                     charges of extortion, bribery
                                                                                chairman of the Port Authority                                                             dlesex County farmer seeking favorable treat-
     aison to the Jewish community, and Kushner                                                                                       and fraud. The court papers re-
                                                                                 — had given millions of dollars                                                           ment in a land dispute. He faces up to 30 months
     pays him $24,461 per year to write brochures                                                                                     fer to an unnamed state official
                                                                                 to politicians before his nomi-                                                           in prison.
     and news releases at the corporate offices in                                                                                    — McGreevey — who had met
     Florham Park.                                                                nation. Four days later, the                        with D’Amiano to discuss the
                                                                                  state Senate approves Kush-                         future of a 75-acre farm whose       Sept. 23, 2004 — Making reference to his own
                                                                                   ner’s nomination.              D’AMIANO            owners are fighting condemna-        “human weakness” and “temptation,” Mc-
     Nov. 6, 2001 — McGreevey, whose campaign
                                                                                                                                      tion. The indictment includes a      Greevey signs an executive order to curtail the
     fund includes more than $1 million donated by
                                                                                    Aug. 14, 2002 — Cipel re-     bizarre detail: During the meeting, McGreevey is         pay-to-play system that rewards campaign con-
     Kushner, defeats Republican Bret Schundler to
                                                                                    signs from state govern-      alleged to have used a code word — “Machiavel-           tributors with government contracts.
     become New Jersey’s 51st governor.
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                   THE RECORD 3


                                                                                       Published Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004

                                       “Golan was the worst of the bunch,” says one senior Democrat who worked in the campaign.
                                          “He set up his own little empire. He put his own people on the payroll. He tried to set up
                                    political events that turned into disasters. His existence showed the worst side of Jim McGreevey —
                                          he made so many side deals with guys like this that we could not keep them all straight.”

Rise
From Page 1
known. The truth is very different.
Separately, each man demonstrat-
ed a prodigious arrogance and a
brand of personal recklessness
that left their friends and associ-
ates bewildered and breathless.
Together, they were unstoppable,
their circle drawing tighter with
each passing year. Together they
were doomed.
    They rose and fell together in a
political system that smiles on
greed, abets arrogance, and fosters
recklessness.
    Only eight days after Mc-
Greevey bragged about his “best-
in-the-world” hire, his specialist
emerged as Golan Cipel — no se-
curity expert, but an amateur poet
and publicist who held a mysteri-
ous power over the governor. He
has retreated to Israel, where he
asserts he is a “victim” who was
sexually harassed by the governor.
    Within weeks of his own ap-
pointment, Kushner found him-
self publicly denying his business
partners’ claims of shady dealings
— claims that ultimately would rip
apart his family and lead to a
guilty plea in federal court. He is
facing 18 to 24 months in prison
for defrauding the IRS, violating
campaign laws, and tampering
with witnesses in an unseemly
plot involving videotaped sex with
a prostitute.
    As for McGreevey, his political
life is over, his personal life in tat-
ters. A career politician elected
governor by 15 points will leave                                                                                                                                                                                        SIPA PRESS
office early, an exposed betrayer         Golan Cipel, left, and then-Woodbridge Mayor Jim McGreevey sharing a bottle of wine on March 8, 2000, in Israel.
of the public’s trust. A twice-mar-
ried father of two will continue life    Friends from that era remem-                                                                                 from the New York Institute of           again, Kushner had donated more
as an uncloseted gay man, an         ber that it wasn’t unusual for the                                                                               Technology. He had worked in             than the law allowed. Then in
adulterer who publicly acknowl-      mayor to drive his township-                                                                                     the United States and Israel in a        September, his brother Murray
edged an “adult consensual affair”   owned car the wrong way down a                                                                                   variety of jobs, including aide and      Kushner sued him, demanding an
with a man he has not named but      one-way street — and laugh about                                                                                 television reporter in the Israeli       accounting of all revenues and
widely believed to be Cipel.         it. Around town they talked about                                                                                parliament. Rishon Letzion was           disbursements since 1997.
    On that Ash Wednesday, the       Jimmy the crazy driver. There he                                                                                 his hometown. He grew up there              Things were going better for
governor was on crutches. He ma-     goes, one hand on the wheel and                                                                                  among descendents of the Jews            Cipel. With a work visa sponsored
neuvered with care, mindful not      the other on his cellphone. There                                                                                who had immigrated from Russia           by Kushner, he reported for work
to disturb the pins fusing his left  he goes, one hand on the wheel                                                                                   to grow oranges in the sandy             on April 18, 2001, at the Florham
femur, which he had shattered in     and the other on an electric razor,                                                                              groves, build apartment houses,          Park office of Kushner Cos., mak-
a spill on the beach in Cape May     erasing a five o’clock shadow. The                                                                               and bear children to a newly             ing $24,461 a year to write news
that has become the subject of ru-   car became a heap of bent fenders                                                                                founded Israel.                          releases and do marketing proj-
mors. He presented himself to a      and scraped tires.                                                                                                   The mayor assigned Cipel to          ects. Five months later, he added
priest who anointed his forehead         “We were buying new hubcaps                                                                                  lead McGreevey and others on a           a second job, making $30,000 as
with ashes — the symbol of mor-      on a regular basis,” one close as-                                                                               day trip that included a visit to a      candidate McGreevey’s liaison to
tality — and began the ancient       sociate recalled.                                                                                                Holocaust memorial and to a              the Jewish community.
blessing.                                Then there were the stories                                                                                  neighborhood called Romat Eli-              McGreevey was running hard.
    The priest ended: “… — unto      about an exotic nightlife. Mc-                                                                                   ahu, where some low-income               At the same time, he seemed pre-
dust thou shalt return.”             Greevey was running around with                                                                                  apartment buildings were being           occupied with getting Cipel set-
                äää                  a mysterious blonde, the wags                                                                                    remodeled. The two were pho-             tled, directing an aide to help him
    James E. McGreevey and said. McGreevey had been with a                                                                                            tographed by an Israeli newspaper        find a place to live, sources said.
Charles A. Kushner cemented prostitute. McGreevey was gay.                                                                                            having a conversation over a bot-        He wound up a block from the
their $1.5 million partnership in a      McGreevey seemed to hear                                                                                     tle of wine.                             home of McGreevey and his preg-
September 1997                                        none of it. He was                                                                                  McGreevey returned to the            nant wife, renting a one-bedroom
meeting.                Editor’s note                 going to be gover-                                                                              States, and by the summer he was         apartment in a complex owned by
    Kushner, who                                      nor no matter                                                                                   back in touch with Cipel. Would          the developer David Halpern, an-
lives in Livingston, In the preparation of this ar- what. For that he                                                                                 he like a job on his campaign for        other Democratic fund-raiser. Ini-
is the son of Holo- ticle, a team of reporters        needed big bucks.                                                                               governor? Cipel went to Nitzan           tially, Cipel was paying about
caust      survivors from The Record conduct- For big bucks, he                                                                                       for advice.                              $900 a month rent, Halpern re-
who founded the ed interviews with more               needed Kushner.                                                                                     “He said he thought it was a         called.
Kushner Cos., a $1 than a score of political in-      They sat down                                                                                   promotion for him and that it was           “And after a few months, he
billion real-estate siders, most of whom              Sept. 16, 1997. The                                                                             important. So I said: Go,” Nitzan        didn’t pay rent,” Halpern said.
conglomerate built spoke on condition they not next day, accord-                                                                                      recalled.                                “We had to put him in court, and
on garden apart- be identified. Our reporters ing to state cam-                                                                                           McGreevey filed papers to            then he paid up his rent.”
ments, condomini- also reviewed documents             paign finance re-                                                                               launch his second run for gover-            A friend of McGreevey’s said
um developments, and notes from stories pub- ports, Kushner and                                                                                       nor. Charlie Kushner, his friend         “it became painfully obvious” that
high-rises, and of- lished during Governor Mc- his family put                                                                                         the developer, also hopped               McGreevey had too much interest
fice complexes. As Greevey’s tenure.                  $8,200 into his                                                                                 aboard.                                  in Cipel. Yet McGreevey seemed
head of the empire, The article incorporates re- new pal’s cam-                                                                                           “Jim McGreevey has always let        oblivious to the nature of his own
Kushner has made porting by Clint Riley, Herb paign fund. It was                                                                                      it be known that his energy, his vi-     behavior.
his mark as a phil- Jackson, Mike Kelly,              the first trickle in                                         BETH BALBIERZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER   sion, and his heart were commit-            “He convinced himself he
anthropist for Jew- Martha McKay, John Bren- what was to be-                  Dina Matos McGreevey holding her infant daughter, Jacqueline, in        ted to running for governor,”            could control the situation,” said
ish and other caus- nan, Brian Kladko, Scott          come a torrent of      2002 while her husband addressed a joint session of the Legislature.     Kushner wrote in a statement re-         the friend. “It became too painful-
es and one of the Fallon, and Andrew Glazer. campaign cash.                                                                                           leased by his office. “I will be tire-   ly public, but he ignored that.”
country’s biggest                                       Three weeks lat-     put one race behind him and      McGreevey was single. When              less in my efforts to elect Jim Mc-         All the while, Cipel was devel-
fund-raisers for Democratic can- er, McGreevey had another close                                           he was mayor, he had worked
                                                                             started on the next. He set up a                                         Greevey. … The best interests of         oping a reputation among fellow
didates.                             friend: President Bill Clinton, who     lobbying group called the Com-hard to keep the public from find-         the people of New Jersey will be         campaign workers.
    Frank Lautenberg, the Democ- shared a ride in an armored lim-            mittee for Working Families.  ing out that his first wife, Kari          served.”                                    In the summer and fall, the
ratic U.S. senator, once likened ousine to the Florham Park head-                                          Schutz, had left him, moving with
                                                                             Kushner was good for $140,000 in                                             On one day in August 2000,           workers say, a crew that became
the Kushner philanthropic and quarters of the Kushner Compa-                                               the couple’s daughter back to her
                                                                             donations, or more than 35 per-                                          eight people with the last name          known inside the campaign as
business legacy to that of the nies. Seventy-five people turned              cent of its revenues.         native British Columbia. Their di-         Kushner — all of them listing a          “McGreevey groupies” started
Rockefellers and the Kennedys.       out for a reception there. So did a                                   vorce had not yet become final
                                                                                The group paid for radio spots                                        Kushner-owned company as their           more or less setting up voter-out-
    Kushner once told The Wall delegation of students from the               in which McGreevey argued for when he started dating Dina                employer — donated $2,100 each           reach operations and answering
Street Journal: “I want to be one Joseph Kushner Hebrew Acade-               HMO reform. It paid for Mc-   Matos, a hospital public-relations         to McGreevey’s campaign. That            solely to the future governor.
of the largest owners in the coun- my in Livingston.                                                       executive from the Ironbound, the
                                                                             Greevey to travel to Poland, Ire-                                        done, Kushner turned his atten-             One of them was Rajesh
try.”                                    The school was named for                                          Portuguese section of Newark.
                                                                             land, and Israel. It paid for its                                        tion to the candidate’s associates.      “Roger” Chugh, the Punjabi emi-
    He doesn’t talk to the press Kushner’s father, the founder of            staff’s health-club memberships  McGreevey wanted to keep the                In September, Kushner paid           gre who later became the subject
about how he spends his millions the family business — “a man                                              romance quiet, but the pair were
                                                                             and medical coverage. It paid the                                        $3.4 million for Highview Plan-          of an expose in The Record and a
on politics. Reporters had to comb whose values for honesty and in-                                        hard to miss. On election night
                                                                             salaries of a board that included                                        ning, a Woodbridge insurance             federal fund-raising probe. Anoth-
through public campaign records tegrity are all the qualities that are                                     1997, hours after McGreevey con-
                                                                             Paul Levinsohn, Gary Taffet, and                                         company partly owned by Gary             er was Efrain Feliciano, the Cam-
to learn that, through the years, important to teach children,”              other McGreevey friends from  ceded defeat in the governor’s             Taffet, McGreevey’s onetime chief        den County political operative
Kushner has given $1.5 million in Kushner once said. Here, Mc-                                             race, police on patrol outside the
                                                                             Woodbridge — a group that would                                          of staff in Township Hall. Kush-         who was angling for a job in the
contributions to McGreevey and Greevey — proud product of St.                                              Woodbridge Sheraton pulled up
                                                                             become the future governor’s in-                                         ner also gave him a new job: pres-       front office.
the committees that benefited him. Joseph’s High School in                   ner circle at the State House.behind the couple, necking in a            ident of Vantage Financial and In-          “Golan was the worst of the
    Before he was governor, Mc- Metuchen — found a new base of                  The Committee for Working  car. Matos noticed the cops and            surance Services, the insurance          bunch,’’ says one senior Democ-
Greevey was a Democratic state support for this campaign and fu-             Families was barely a year oldran, Woodbridge insiders recalled.         arm of Kushner’s business empire.        rat who worked in the campaign.
senator and mayor of Wood- ture ones.                                        when McGreevey launched an-      Now McGreevey wanted to tell                By Christmas, McGreevey and          “He set up his own little empire.
bridge. And the guy was a piece of       Come the gubernatorial elec-        other campaign for Woodbridge the world that he loved this               Matos were celebrating their first       He put his own people on the
work.                                tion in 1997, McGreevey lost to                                       woman. He proposed on Valen-
                                                                             mayor; he won reelection with 86                                         Christmas as a married couple to-        payroll. He tried to set up politi-
    His desk was tidy. His hair was Christie Whitman. But Kushner —          percent of the vote.          tine’s Day of 2000. She said yes.          gether — they had wed Oct. 1 at a        cal events that turned into disas-
trimmed. His suits were pressed. certain the Democrats here and in              Kushner, too, remained active A month later, McGreevey                hotel in Washington, D.C.                ters.’’ “His existence showed the
He owned more than 100 white Washington, D.C., were future                                                 joined the United Jewish Federa-
                                                                             in politics, giving $292,000 mostly                                          And Kushner had an achieve-          worst side of Jim McGreevey — he
dress shirts, dropping off 80 at a winners — continued giving. By            to Democrats. Some of it came tion MetroWest’s Mega Mission              ment to add to his corporate bi-         made so many side deals with
time at the cleaners. It took stern the end of the year he had donat-        back: a check for $57,000 fromtrip to Israel. It was there, during       ography: The National Confer-            guys like this that we could not
political advisers to steer him from ed $554,000. And on Dec. 5,             the fund-raising committee fora reception at an arts center in a         ence for Community and Justice           keep them all straight,’’ said the
the uniform of dark suit and sus- 1997, he started a pattern of giving       New York Mayor Rudolph Giu-   city called Rishon Letzion, that           had named him Humanitarian of            Democrat.
penders to something less rigid. that ultimately would attract the           liani. Kushner had given more McGreevey met Golan Cipel, a               the Year.                                   Cipel’s former colleagues on
The man simply couldn’t relax in attention of the Federal Election                                         32-year-old spokesman for Mayor
                                                                             than the law allowed. Still, 1999                                                       äää                       the campaign all say that the
khakis and a polo shirt. He went Commission. Years down the                  ended well for him: Ernst &   Meir Nitzan.                                  They began 2001 with one goal:        young Israeli was a peculiarly vain
along with the new outfits so vot- road, the FEC would fine Kush-            Young, the accounting firm,      Cipel — bright, well-spoken,            Elect McGreevey governor.                and ambitious man. He dressed in
ers got the image of a man who ner $508,900 for writing checks in            named him Entrepreneur of the and absolutely fascinated by                  Kushner had a few distractions.       the finest clothes, drove nice cars,
could kick back like anyone else. the name of his business associ-                                         American politics — was a veteran
                                                                             Year in its real-estate category.                                        Two candidates for New York              and sought out the most beautiful
    The longer he spent running for ates without their consent.                           äää              of Israel’s compulsory military,           City mayor, Mark Green and Alan          women.
governor, though, the more his           McGreevey’s friends said he           The Nineties were over. The putting in five years with the navy        Hevesi, were forced to give back            They said Cipel often assumed
advisers worried about his behav- had been running for governor              calendar said 2000. Time for and another five in the reserves.           about $40,000 they had accepted          a haughty, self-important air. On
ior.                                 since age 3. By 1998, he had had        change.                       He had a communications degree             from Kushner’s companies. Once                          See POWER Page 4
4 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                              JANUARY 2005


                                                                                          Published Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004

                           “Golan obviously had something on the governor,” one former official said. “He knew something. Looking
                          back now, I get the shivers thinking about how reckless Jim McGreevey was, and how desperate he must have
                          been. Think about it: He works his entire life for one goal, the governor's office. And when he finally gets there,
                            he has this time bomb around his neck. And it's a bomb of his own making. He made it. He hung it there.”

Power: Kushner, Cipel, and McGreevey’s rise and fall
From Page 3                             actually thought he could control                                                                                                                                  Rasmussen said Cipel’s role
Sept. 11, for example, he was one       that speech. And the stuff he                                                                                                                                   within the administration has
of many campaign officials who          wanted to put in was horrible —                                                                                                                                 been “widely misunderstood’’ by
gathered at Democratic Party of-        the worst kind of garbage.’’ The                                                                                                                                the media. He suggested that
fices on the top floor of a Wood-       speechwriters overruled Cipel, but                                                                                                                              Cipel’s real role was one of liaison
bridge skyscraper that had a clear      not without trepidation.                                                                                                                                        and communicator for Mc-
view of the World Trade Center             “There was a real sense that                                                                                                                                 Greevey on security issues, not
towers. With arms crossed and his       Golan had power and you did not                                                                                                                                 one of counter-terrorism expert.
brow furrowed, Cipel paced the          cross him lightly,’’ said a third                                                                                                                                  In a recent interview with an Is-
floor propounding on the effect         staffer.                                                                                                                                                        raeli newspaper, Cipel described
the terror attacks would have on                        äää                                                                                                                                             his $110,000 role as that of a
U.S.-Mideast relations.                    Ambition. Hard work. Reward.                                                                                                                                 scheduling secretary.
   “You had to laugh,’’ said one        For McGreevey, Cipel, and Kush-                                                                                                                                    “I was not, under any circum-
former colleague.                       ner, it all came together as never                                                                                                                              stances, responsible for internal
   The last week of the campaign        before in 2002. By the end of the                                                                                                                               security,” Cipel was quoted as say-
was intense. Four days before vot-      year, it all started unraveling.                                                                                                                                ing.
ers went to the polls, McGreevey’s         McGreevey was days from his                                                                                                                                                  äää
wife, Dina — seven months’ preg-        inauguration on Jan. 9 when Paul                                                                                                                                   By early March, Republican
nant with the couple’s daughter —       Levinsohn — the campaign fi-                                                                                                                                    legislators had heard enough
was hospitalized in premature la-       nance chairman who was about                                                                                                                                    about Cipel. William L. Gormley,
bor. On election night, a victori-      to be named chief counsel —                                                                                                                                     chairman of the Senate Judiciary
ous McGreevey accepted con-             wrote a letter to the federal Immi-                                                                                                                             Committee, threatened to block
gratulations without his spouse at      gration and Naturalization Ser-                                                                                                                                 all of McGreevey’s political ap-
his side.                               vice. Cipel, a foreign citizen, was                                                                                                                             pointments until Cipel went be-
   The next day, most campaign          coming to the state Department of                                                                                                                               fore the panel and submitted to
workers could relax. But not            Law and Public Safety, he wrote.                                                                                                                                questioning about his job. And
Cipel.                                  He would need a work visa.                                                                                                                                      that wasn’t all. Gormley said he
   During the 10 weeks before              A day later, Kushner gave                                                                                                                                    would hold up McGreevey’s nom-
McGreevey took office, Cipel            $5,000 into McGreevey’s inaugu-                                                                                                                                 ination of Kushner to the Port Au-
made it known that he had a spe-        ral fund. On Jan. 15, McGreevey                                                                                                                                 thority.
cial relationship with the gover-       was sworn into office at the Tren-                                                                                                                                 Gormley managed to do what
nor-elect. Staffers who came to         ton War Memorial. He told re-                                                                                                                                   McGreevey’s own staff couldn’t
work in the transition office in        porters he would arrive at his                                                                                                                                  do: Cipel was reassigned. Because
Trenton walked gingerly around          State House office the next day at                                                                                                                              McGreevey had a new job for
the young Israeli.                      7:30 a.m. sharp.                                                                                                                                                him: “special counsel,” with a sec-
   “On the first day I came to             McGreevey’s first big misstep                                                                                                                                ond-floor office in the State
work, I was told there were a cou-      came on a beach in Cape May on                                                                                                                                  House, one flight above the gov-
ple people I absolutely could not       Feb. 1, 16 days into his tenure.                                                                                                                                ernor’s inner sanctum. The suite
piss off. One of them was Golan         The governor and his wife, guests                                                                                                                               swarmed with young staffers who
Cipel,’’ said one former senior ad-     at the Peter Shields Inn, took a                                                                                                                                wrote press releases, arranged the
ministration official. “Pretty soon,    late-night walk on the beach. He                                                                                                                                governor’s schedule, and worked
I found myself running important        stepped off a ledge, falling 4 feet                                                                                                                             on constituent issues.
stuff by Golan for approval, even       onto the sand and cracking his left                                                                                                                                On the occasions when Cipel
though I outranked him.’’ Cipel         femur. Or so the story went.                                                                                                                                    showed up, several colleagues
told stories. He and Jim had done          McGreevey underwent surgery,                                                                                                                                 said, he did little of substance. He
this or that together, he said. Jim     and for the next several weeks he                                                                                                                               had two aides, who earned a com-
had told him thus and so.               was in a cast and using crutches.                                                                                                                               bined $80,000 for what amounted
   According to another former          Like all devout Catholics, he ob-                                                                                                                               to collecting newspaper clippings
McGreevey staffer, Cipel often          served Ash Wednesday — the start                                                                                                                                about Jewish businessmen. Cipel’s
ended arguments with a declara-         of Lent, the Church’s holiest sea-                                                                                                                              salary of $110,000 was signifi-
tion: “Well, I know what Jim likes      son. The sign of his faith on his                                                                                                                               cantly higher than those around
and what he doesn’t like, so we’re      forehead, he carried out his offi-                                                                                                                              him.
doing it my way.’’ “After a while,      cial duties for the rest of the day.                                                                                                                               “It became a huge morale prob-
we always did it Golan’s way. It           For Kushner, that meant the                                                                                                                                  lem for the office,’’ said one for-
just saved time,’’ said the staffer.    appointment to the Port Authori-                                                                                                                                mer administration official.
   On Dec. 5 — with Dina Mc-            ty board — and eventually, Mc-                                                                                                                                     For news reporters, Cipel con-
Greevey days from giving birth —        Greevey promised, the chairman-                                                                                                                                 tinued to be a story. What were
McGreevey addressed a AFL-CIO           ship. The post carries a huge                                                                                                                                   his official duties? Why wouldn’t
conference in Las Vegas. Sources        amount of prestige and the pow-                                                                                                                                 Cipel speak to the press? Mc-
say Cipel went along.                   er to control millions of dollars in                                                                                                                            Greevey’s perplexed senior aides
   “I want you to know that when        contracts.                                                                                                                                                      complained directly to their boss,
I take office in six weeks, we’re go-      “Sooner or later, the chairman                                                                                                                               but he waved them off. Cipel was
ing to take on the sweatshops,”         sits down with anybody who is                                                                                            BETH BALBIERZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER       misunderstood, he told them. The
McGreevey told 1,000 delegates          important in the world of devel-       Governor McGreevey, accompanied by a nurse, leaving Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New                       media will lose interest.
in the ballroom of the Paris/Bal-       opment, politics, and high fi-         Brunswick on Feb. 4, 2002, following surgery on his broken leg.                                                             “Part of the problem was this
ly’s hotel. “We’re going to provide     nance,” said Republican lobbyist                                                                                                                                deep contempt and misunder-
for tougher enforcement of labor        Hazel Gluck for a Record story         picked adviser,’’ said one official.      were together only in large groups,     asking other questions: What re-       standing for the press,’’ said one
laws. … You’re going to have a          about Kushner. “The chairman           “I remember reading that first sto-       he said, never alone.                   ally happened on that beach in         member of McGreevey’s Cabinet.
governor who stands shoulder to         can make more contacts than he         ry and saying over and over to my-           “You implied something was           Cape May? Was the governor             “He thought he could get away
shoulder with the AFL-CIO.”             ever dreamed of.”                      self, ‘Holy s---, holy s---, holy s---!   there that is not!” the governor        with Golan that night, instead of      with stuff he got away with in
   McGreevey made it back in                            äää                    What the hell is Jimmy thinking?’         screamed.                               his wife? These were questions         Woodbridge.’’ The stonewalling of
time for the arrival of his daughter,      Cipel was doing well, too. He       ” The day that the story appeared,           For many of McGreevey’s              that would not go away, even           requests to interview Cipel be-
4-pound 5-ounce Jacqueline              moved out of McGreevey’s neigh-        McGreevey himself came un-                staffers, the story was a revelation.   though everyone — McGreevey,           came part of a larger campaign of
Matos McGreevey, on Dec. 7. The         borhood in Woodbridge, and             hinged. He summoned one of the               “Golan obviously had some-           his wife, a chef who came to the       secrecy, said the cabinet member.
same day, his future senior staff       bought a Princeton condominium         reporters to his office and carried       thing on the governor,’’ one for-       injured governor’s side — denied       As critical stories multiplied, Mc-
met in a conference room at Rut-        for $190,000. When The Record          on for a good half-hour, scream-          mer official said. “He knew some-       the tale.                              Greevey ordered press aides
gers University. Cipel was there,       reported Feb. 21 that an unknown       ing much of the time.                     thing. Looking back now, I get             Neither Kushner nor Cipel an-       throughout the executive branch
bossier than ever.                      Israeli named Golan Cipel had             It was bad enough The Record           the shivers thinking about how          swered numerous requests for           to forward daily lists of all re-
   At one point, staffers recalled,     been appointed a homeland secu-        had exposed his handpicked “se-           reckless Jim McGreevey was, and         comment last week. McGreevey,          porters calls and the nature of
Cipel tried to assert control over      rity adviser, though his credentials   curity expert” as a mere public-re-       how desperate he must have              after the Aug. 12 declaration of his   their inquiries.
the governor’s inaugural speech,        seemed inadequate, McGreevey’s         lations man and amateur poet.             been. Think about it: He works          homosexual affair, has declined to        The governor’s daily schedule
spending whole evenings making          staff was thunderstruck, according     Worse, he claimed, the story ex-          his entire life for one goal, the       answer any questions about Cipel.      was not published. The press was
notes and crafting purplish prose.      to three former members of the         aggerated Cipel’s role in planning        governor’s office. And when he fi-         Micah Rasmussen, the gover-         not always told when the gover-
That rankled the team of profes-        administration.                        his inaugural parade. But what re-        nally gets there he has this time       nor’s press secretary, took issue      nor was leaving the country or go-
sional speechwriters and commu-            “We knew Golan advertised           ally hurt, he said as tears welled in     bomb around his neck. And it’s a        with the portrayal of McGreevey        ing out of town, according to the
nications consultants.                  himself around as having some se-      his eyes, was the bit about Cipel’s       bomb of his own making. He              as an arrogant and reckless politi-    Cabinet member and several pub-
   “This guy got more arrogant          curity knowledge, but we never         being called the governor’s “trav-        made it. He hung it there.’’ Sud-       cian. “This governor has been          lic information officers.
every day,’’ said one staffer. “He      knew he was the governor’s hand-       eling companion.” He and Cipel            denly, McGreevey staffers were          anything but arrogant,” he said.                          See FALL Page 5




Scandal-touched school could retaliate with lawsuit
By ANDREW GLAZER                                 escorted from the Livingston office of the    from,” Lowy said. “We didn’t deal with           founded Norpac, which among of the              Education, said Touro College has in-
and SCOTT FALLON                                 firm where he is partner — Morgan, Mel-       that.”                                           country’s largest pro-Israel political ac-      quired about opening a medical school
STAFF WRITERS                                    huish, Monaghan, Arvidson, Abrutyn &             But many — including some Touro of-           tion committees. He delivered an invo-          in the state on several occasions starting
                                                 Lisowski.                                     ficials — said the demand for the charter        cation at McGreevey’s inauguration and          in the early 1990s. The most recent in-
    Their institution finds itself at the cen-      Cipel claims he is not gay and that he     and web of connections between the col-          also wrote speeches for the governor            quiry came in 2003 when college
ter of the scandal over Governor Mc-             was the victim of unwanted sexual ad-         lege and powerful New Jersey players are         when he appeared before Jewish audi-            founder and president Dr. Bernard Lan-
Greevey's gay affair. And now Touro              vances by the governor. One of his            too strange to ignore. A fund-raiser for         ences, according to an associate.               der contacted the commission, she said.
College representatives say they are con-        lawyers, Allen M. Lowy, said he tried to      Jewish charities likened the demand for             Genack also is close with former U.S.           Oswald said Lander was directed to
sidering a lawsuit against the man who           reach a settlement with McGreevey be-         a charter to a hostage-taker demanding           Sen. Robert G. Torricelli — he edited the       the proper agency, the state’s Board of
might have put them there.                       fore the governor announced that he           “a helicopter, a million dollars, and a          ex-senator’s anthology of quotations and        Medical Examiners, but nothing ever
     McGreevey aides say representatives         would resign on Nov. 15. Lowy said he         peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”               traveled to Israel with the senator two         came of it.
of Golan Cipel demanded millions of              didn’t talk about Touro College during           At the time of Cipel’s hire, Touro’s          years ago. Torricelli also served as con-          “We tried to facilitate a meeting but
dollars and a charter for a Touro College        the 20 days he tried to negotiate a settle-   board included McGreevey’s top fund-             sultant for Touro in its efforts to establish   Touro didn’t follow through,” she said.
medical school in New Jersey in ex-              ment with McGreevey.                          raiser, Charles Kushner, a developer who         the Garden State’s first private medical           A spokeswoman for the state’s Divi-
change for keeping quiet about the al-              Lowy said he knows Saia, but was sur-      last week admitted to hiring a prostitute        school. Torricelli declined repeated re-        sion of Consumer Affairs, which over-
leged affair. Cipel, whom they have iden-        prised when he appeared at a negotiating      to seduce his brother-in-law on tape in          quests for an interview.                        sees the Board of Medical Examiners, re-
tified as the governor’s ex-lover, worked        conference in Manhattan with Mc-              retaliation for cooperating with a federal          Genack refused to say whether he             fused to say who represented Touro in
as a consultant for Touro for three              Greevey’s attorneys. Lowy said he did         probe into his finances. Kushner had             knew Cipel or had anything to do with           the talks or when they occurred.
months last fall in its bid to establish the     not know who invited Saia to the con-         been a patron to Cipel since September           his employment as a consultant at Touro.           According to its Web site, Morgan,
medical school.                                  ference; a confidant of McGreevey said        2001, helping sponsor his immigration            The Englewood rabbi said, however, that         Melhuish, Monaghan, Arvidson, Abru-
    But Touro’s lawyer, Franklyn Snitow,         Saia was Cipel’s friend, but declined fur-    from Israel and hiring him to do public          he was as shocked as anyone when he             tyn & Lisowski — which also called itself
said Touro’s board of trustees never au-         ther comment. Touro College was not           relations for his company.                       read in newspapers that Cipel had in-           The Morgan Law Firm — has a client list
thorized Cipel to negotiate on the col-          discussed at the session, Lowy said.             Developer David Halpern, whose fa-            cluded Touro’s charter in his demands.          that comprises several dozen insurance
lege’s behalf. He said the board was                Published reports say Saia called a        ther Sam also was on Touro’s board                  “Touro College was dismayed as any-          companies and public entities, including
mulling a lawsuit against Livingston             member of McGreevey’s circle 10 min-          when Cipel was hired, rented Cipel his           body else about these reports,” Genack          Essex County, the Turnpike Authority,
lawyer Timothy K. Saia if it can confirm         utes before the governor’s news confer-       first apartment in New Jersey, at the re-        said Tuesday. “We don’t understand it at        Rutgers, and the state of New Jersey. The
he made the charter demand for Cipel,            ence announcing his resignation. Saia re-     quest of the governor’s office. Halpern          all.”                                           state paid the firm $4,280 last year, a
as McGreevey aides have said he did.             portedly said that Cipel would not go         said it was customary for his company to            Snitow said the school hired Cipel be-       treasury spokesman said.
    “Nobody involved with Mr. Cipel had          public with the sexual harassment alle-       extend state employees that courtesy, but        cause “he knew New Jersey” and not for             The firm has donated tens of thou-
any authority to use Touro’s name,” Sni-         gations if McGreevey granted a charter        added that Cipel had been charged rent           any connections the Israeli had with            sands of dollars to New Jersey’s Republi-
tow said. “Touro’s relationship with Mr.         to Touro College to build a medical           like any other tenant.                           trustees. He said Cipel’s consulting job        can Party. Saia has donated money to
Cipel ended almost a year ago. Mr. Cipel         school.                                          Another Touro trustee is Rabbi Men-           ended after the board determined it was         the state’s Democratic Party, including
would not have had information to make              Lowy said he did not know of Saia’s        achem Genack, the politically connect-           not a “relationship we wanted to pro-           $2,000 last year.
such a request.”                                 last-minute contact with the governor’s       ed head of the body that certifies prod-         ceed with.”
    Saia did not return repeated calls for       office until it was printed in newspapers.    ucts as kosher for some 4,500 food pro-             Jeanne Oswald, executive director of         Staff Writers Patricia Alex and Brian Kladko
comment and a reporter last week was                “I don’t understand where it’s coming      duction facilities in 68 countries. Genack       the New Jersey Commission on Higher             also contributed to this article.
                        Bergen Record                                               Yellow         Red                     Blue        Black


JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                         THE RECORD 5


                                                                                          Published Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004

              The rumors go on. One of the most persistent is that Kushner orchestrated Cipel’s action against the governor, a charge that
                     Kushner’s lawyers dismiss. “We’ve had no contact with Cipel for at least 2½ years,” said Benjamin Brafman.


Fall: A tale of sex, money, power, betrayal and finally ruin
From Page 4                                                                                                                                                                                         ed using the code word “Machi-
   “Bills were being signed, ap-                                                                                                                                                                    avelli,” which D’Amiano had said
pointments were being made, all                                                                                                                                                                     would indicate a deal was on track.
without any announcement what-                                                                                                                                                                      McGreevey said his use of the word
soever,’’ said the Cabinet member.                                                                                                                                                                  had been a coincidence and denied
“This was beyond bad govern-                                                                                                                                                                        doing anything improper.
ment. And it started with Golan.                                                                                                                                                                        Three days later, Kushner’s as-
That set the pattern for everything                                                                                                                                                                 sociates received letters from the
else to come.’’ By late spring and                                                                                                                                                                  U.S. Attorney’s Office saying they
summer of 2002, the governor’s of-                                                                                                                                                                  were targets of a federal grand-jury
fice did begin to e-mail daily                                                                                                                                                                      investigation. Kushner met again
schedules and lists of appoint-                                                                                                                                                                     with the two men who had hired
ments to the State House media                                                                                                                                                                      the prostitutes in December. On
and editors across New Jersey.                                                                                                                                                                      his word, one of the men mailed
Newspaper stories about Cipel                                                                                                                                                                       the videotape to Kushner’s broth-
kept coming, however. A reporter                                                                                                                                                                    er-in-law. When it arrived at his
from Gannett New Jersey traveled                                                                                                                                                                    home May 10, he turned it over to
to Israel in an attempt to research                                                                                                                                                                 federal prosecutors.
Cipel’s past.                                                                                                                                                                                           The summer brought no relief.
   Talk radio hosts began to open-                                                                                                                                                                      On June 30, the Federal Elec-
ly joke about “Little Golan’’ — the                                                                                                                                                                 tion Committee leveled one of its
meaning of the term was nebulous                                                                                                                                                                    largest fines ever against Kushner,
— and openly questioned Mc-                                                                                                                                                                         forcing him to pay $508,900 for
Greevey’s sexuality. A reporter for                                                                                                                                                                 making illegal campaign contribu-
the Associated Press asked the                                                                                                                                                                      tions in the names of his business
governor directly if he was gay,                                                                                                                                                                    associates. And on July 7, D’Ami-
and McGreevey denied it, claim-                                                                                                                                                                     ano was charged with extortion,
ing that all governors are the vic-                                                                                                                                                                 mail fraud, and bribery.
tims of unsubstantiated rumors.                                                                                                                                                                         Less than a week later, Kushner
   Everyone was talking: the press,                                                                                                                                                                 turned himself in to the FBI and
politicians, state troopers, the gay                                                                                                                                                                appeared in federal court in
community, government employ-                                                                                                                                                                       Newark, where he was accused of
ees, and now the public at large.                                                                                                                                                                   conspiracy, obstruction of an in-
   Legions of reporters revisited                                                                                                                                                                   vestigation, and promotion of in-
the Cape May incident in which                                                                                                                                                                      terstate prostitution. Kushner —
McGreevey broke his leg. Several                                                                                                                                                                    son of Holocaust survivors, hero
news organizations requested logs                                                                                                                                                                   of the Democrats, Entrepreneur of
of State Police helicopter flights to                                                                                                                   THOMAS E. FRANKLIN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER       the Year, Humanitarian of the
confirm the First Lady’s where-         Charles Kushner, center, heading for the federal courthouse in Newark, was one of McGreevey's biggest fund-raisers.                                         Year — was facing 25 years in
abouts that night. (The rumor held                                                                                                                                                                  prison and $750,000 in fines.
that she had been rushed to Cape        Mercer County.                                                                                                        ity bank owners to make political         The next day, McGreevey’s
May after the incident.) Newspa-            “He went through a very thor-                                                                                     contributions.                        commerce secretary, William Wat-
pers also requested guest logs for      ough hiring process, and he                                                                                              On Feb. 26, Kushner tried to       ley, resigned amid accusations that
McGreevey’s beach house and             seemed to be bright, capable, and                                                                                     stop the bleeding. He resigned        he had sought state funds for his
records of overnight guests at          quite qualified for the job we had                                                                                    from the Port Authority board,        own business interests.
Drumthwacket, the governor’s            to fill,” said MWW executive Bob                                                                                      maintaining he had had only no-           Before the month was out, Mc-
mansion in Princeton.                   Sommer. “But very quickly, we                                                                                         ble intentions: “My motive … was      Greevey knew the game was up.
   Ultimately, The Record decided       learned that he didn’t seem to                                                                                        merely to perform public service      His office was locked in discus-
to inquire about McGreevey’s al-        want to fulfill those require-                                                                                        with absolutely nothing in return     sions with Allen M. Lowy, a
leged homosexuality only when it        ments.”                                                                                                               except the opportunity to make a      lawyer for Cipel, who said his
appeared there might be some im-            The U.S. Attorney’s Office is in-                                                                                 positive impact on people’s lives.”   client was accusing the governor
pact on his official duties. The        vestigating the Cipel affair. A                                                                                          As for the lawsuit, in August      of sexual harassment.
newspaper’s policy was an infor-        source close to the investigation                                                                                     2003 he arranged for prostitutes to       In the coming days, McGreevey
mal one, and it was shared by the       said that the probe will seek to de-                                                                                  tempt his worst enemies, who hap-     confronted what he later called
State House press in general.           termine, among other things, if                                                                                       pened to be his brother-in-law and    “my own identity,” a secret that
   Outwardly, McGreevey ap-             MWW and others who employed                                                                                           his former accountant. The pros-      had nagged at him in high school,
peared to be a happily married          Cipel received anything in ex-                                                                                        titutes were to be set up in a cam-   a secret that he tried to keep from
man. He, his wife, and child            change from the McGreevey ad-                                                                                         era-rigged room at the Red Bull       his parents, his wives, his friends,
moved into Drumthwacket, the            ministration.                                                                                                         Inn in Bridgewater, and told          his employees, and his voters.
governor’s official residence which         State records show that the ad-                                                                                   whom to seduce. The plot half-            McGreevey had nowhere left to
had just undergone a $590,000           ministration awarded two multi-                                                                                       worked. On Dec. 5, Kushner had        hide.
renovation funded in part by con-       year advertising contracts to                                                                                         video of his brother-in-law’s romp.       In a six-minute speech delivered
tributions from Kushner.                MWW after Cipel was hired. Matt                                                                                       Yontef, however, resisted the         in his office on Aug. 12, he pro-
   The governor’s office had other      Golden, a Treasury Department                                                                                         woman’s offers.                       claimed himself “a gay American”
problems. The AFL-CIO — the la-         spokesman, said the contracts,                                                                                           Kushner had little time to revel   who had strayed outside his mar-
bor group with whom McGreevey           which were awarded in an open-                                                                                        in his coup. Two days before          riage “with another man.” He said
had pledged to stand “shoulder to       bidding process, are worth $24                                                                                        Hanukkah, the FBI arrived at the      he would resign Nov. 15.
shoulder” — was protesting Kush-        million and include money to buy                                                                                      office of one of Kushner’s ac-            He did not name Cipel, but his
ner’s appointment, saying he had        television commercials.                                                                                               countants and the home of a for-      aides did.
not used union labor on some of             MWW officials said they got                                                                                       mer employee. They left with box-         The next day, Lowy read a state-
his development projects. Sharpe        nothing back from the govern-                                                                                         es of evidence.                       ment saying Cipel was not roman-
James, the state senator and may-       ment for hiring Cipel. Besides giv-                                                                                                 äää                     tically involved with the governor,
or of Newark, said he wasn’t going      ing Cipel a recommendation, the                                                                                          Another year brought another       but rather a victim of his sexual ad-
to support Kushner’s appoint-           administration has said that it                                                                                       mess in the governor’s office.        vances. Cipel, who had been living
ment, either. James was in a snit       made no promises to MWW in ex-                                                                                           For the first part of 2004, Mc-    in a fancy New York City high-
because McGreevey had done              change for hiring the controversial                                                                                   Greevey found himself defending,      rise, returned to Israel, to Rishon
fund raising for James’ opponent        Israeli.                                                                                                              of all things, his Catholic faith. On Letzion, where he had first met
in the Newark mayoral election.             Cipel quit MWW after four                                                                   ASSOCIATED PRESS      Jan. 12, he signed the domestic-      McGreevey.
   In late May, Peter Harvey, then      weeks to take another job, with a       McGreevey with his daughter Jacqueline at the Democratic Conven-              partnership law, making New Jer-          “All his life, Golan wanted a job
the first assistant attorney general,   pay increase, at Trenton-based          tion, barely two weeks before his shocking announcement.                      sey the fifth state to recognize ho-  that was involved in politics,” Guy
summoned Kushner to Trenton             State Street Partners, a lobbying                                                                                     mosexual unions.                      Horesh, a 34-year-old friend of
for a two-hour interview about his      firm owned by Rahway Mayor              And the man who had promised          Voters no longer were attributing          That, combined with his out-       Cipel’s, told The Record in an in-
business practices and political        James Kennedy, who is one of Mc-        to stamp out “business as usual” in   his missteps to the first-year-in-of-   spoken support of abortion rights     terview in Rishon Letzion.
contributions. Apparently Harvey        Greevey’s closest friends.              Trenton had a dismal public-ap-       fice learning curve. He started         and stem-cell research, proved too        Horesh said he stayed with
— who was to become Mc-                     Kennedy did not return calls        proval rating of 37 percent.          2003 with a 40 percent approval         much for Bishop John M. Smith,        Cipel in the United States in 2001,
Greevey’s attorney general —            seeking comment for this story.                       äää                     rating, slipped to 38 percent, then     head of the Roman Catholic Dio-       even attending a McGreevey po-
found nothing alarming. For all         But The Record has learned that            What was bad in 2002 became        35 percent. Late in the year — after    cese of Trenton. In a sermon de-      litical rally. Cipel was happy then.
the talk about holding up the ap-       the hire came after McGreevey           a full-blown crisis in 2003.          The Record chronicled how his           livered March 27 at St. James         During another trip two years lat-
pointment, the Senate Judiciary         spoke to both Kennedy and an-              No one was happy.                  fund-raiser Rajesh “Roger” Chugh        Church in Red Bank, the bishop        er, Horesh said, Cipel seemed bit-
unanimously approved Kushner            other lead partner, Rocco Iossa.           Where was Cipel? While work-       systematically shook down fellow        said of the governor: “When he        ter. McGreevey phoned several
for the Port Authority job. Ulti-       Members of the firm, however,           ing for State Street Partners, he     Asian Indians for campaign con-         refers to himself as a devout         times during the visit, Horesh re-
mately, so did the full Senate.         soon began to resent Cipel. In          took a second job consulting for      tributions — McGreevey’s ap-            Catholic and supports legislation     called, his phone number showing
   For McGreevey, the glow of           three months, he had brought in         Touro College, an Orthodox Jew-       proval rating stood at an inordi-       and programs that are contrary to     up on Caller ID. Cipel answered
that victory didn’t last long. His      no new clients. Executives started      ish school that had Kushner as a      nately low 34 percent.                  the teaching of the Holy Father       just once, giving one-word an-
family was deeply hurt by the ho-       to talk about Cipel’s “attitude of      board member. The college had            Where was Kushner? Lying             and the bishops, he is not a devout   swers. Cipel never told Horesh
mosexual rumors, sources said.          entitlement,” according to some-        approached a McGreevey Cabinet        low. Very low.                          Catholic.”                            what the call was about.
   “I think that was the moment         one with knowledge of his tenure.       member about opening a medical           His old accountant Yontef was           A month later, a top Vatican of-       On Aug. 18, Kushner stood be-
that McGreevey knew he had to               “It was becoming an old story:      school in New Jersey.                 back with another lawsuit, filed        ficial, Cardinal Francis Arinze, said fore U.S. District Judge Jose
finally dump Golan,’’ said the De-      Golan is hired, does not work, gets        Franklyn Snitow, a Touro attor-    this time in federal court. The         politicians who support abortion      Linares and pleaded guilty to
mocrat.                                 fired,’’ said the source.               ney, when questioned last week        claims were astounding: Kushner         rights are in “grave sin” and there-  cheating on his taxes, filing false
               äää                          Kushner and McGreevey,              about Cipel’s employment, said he     had redirected $2 million to pay        fore unfit to take Holy Commu-        campaign finance reports, and in-
   And so it was done. On Aug. 14,      meanwhile, were having serious          had been hired because he “knew       $3.4 million for Gary Taffet’s in-      nion. In New Jersey, the Rev.         terfering with a witness. He will
2002, Cipel handed in his resigna-      troubles of their own.                  New Jersey” and not because of        surance      company,       diverted    Joseph Gelante, on the eve of his     serve 18 to 24 months in prison,
tion — with one stipulation. He de-         Kushner found himself served        his connections with any Touro        $675,000 to pay celebrity guest         installation as bishop of Camden,     and he will be sentenced two
manded unlimited access to the          with a new lawsuit. A complaint         trustees. Of Cipel’s departure from   speakers at his home and syna-          said he would give McGreevey his      weeks after McGreevey leaves of-
governor once he left, according to     filed in Superior Court by his for-     Touro, he would say only it was       gogue, taken $115,000 to build a        blessing, but “he can’t go to Com-    fice.
a former senior aide.                   mer accountant, Robert Yontef,          not a “relationship we wanted to      Jewish ritual bath, used millions of    munion.”                                  The rumors go on. One of the
   “He basically wanted to be able      claimed that Kushner had unjust-        proceed with.”                        dollars from his partners’ accounts        The priests were condemning        most persistent is that Kushner or-
to walk into the front office any-      ly fired Yontef — and was improp-          By April, Cipel was gone from      to make charitable donations in         McGreevey for what he talked          chestrated Cipel’s action against
time he wanted,’’ the former aide       erly diverting company funds to         State Street, too. But he found an-   his own name, and mishandled            about in public. What they did not    the governor, a charge that Kush-
said. “He was so arrogant that he       help political candidates.              other job, this time with Shelley     $3.2 million among personal and         know was McGreevey was an ac-         ner’s lawyers dismiss.
didn’t even care what damage he             In the summer, a McGreevey          Zeiger, who developed the Mar-        business accounts.                      tive homosexual — a lifestyle con-        “We’ve had no contact with
was doing to the governor.              appointee named Roger Chugh —           riott Lafayette Yard hotel in Tren-      Bill Gormley, the pesky Repub-       demned by the Roman Catholic          Cipel for at least 2½ years,’’ said
   Again, McGreevey took care of        one of the “McGreevey groupies”         ton with substantial state backing.   lican senator, was back, too. As        Church.                               Benjamin Brafman, an attorney
Cipel, associates said, recom-          from the campaign days — stepped           “Golan just walked into my of-     Kushner approached confirmation            McGreevey did not ignore the       for Kushner.
mending him for a $120,000 job at       down from his job at the Depart-        fice one day and asked for a job,’’   as Port Authority chairman,             criticism. In public, he said he          But Einat Oren, a public rela-
MWW Group, the East Ruther-             ment of State as The Record pre-        Zeiger said. “I knew who he was,      Gormley wanted answers about            would continue to go to Mass and      tions consultant hired last week by
ford public relations and lobbying      pared to run a report examining         of course. But he seemed like a       Kushner’s business ethics. Asked        refrain from receiving the Eu-        Cipel, said it is clear that Cipel has
firm. Its clients include Kushner       his business practices. In the fall,    smart and ambitious kid, so I hired   to appear before the Senate Judi-       charist. The decision — and, per-     real anger for Kushner. She de-
and the Mills Corp., which is           McGreevey’s state police superin-       him.’’ But Cipel was not interested   ciary Committee, Kushner said he        haps, the delivery of property tax-   clined to say why, instead offering
teaming with the developer Mack-        tendent, Joseph Santiago, resigned      in the project he was assigned to,    was not legally obligated.              relief — must have resonated with     this cryptic assessment: “With
Cali to build the $1.3 billion, Mc-     amid rumors he had ties to organ-       dealing with Russian investors on        The two problems — the lawsuit       voters, because by early June Mc-     strong people, it seems you can get
Greevey-blessed Xanadu project          ized crime and had obstructed a         a venture at the Mercer County        and the Port Authority chairman-        Greevey’s approval rating was 41      into the circle, but you can’t go
at the Meadowlands.                     criminal investigation. Most trou-      Airport, and he was gone by           ship — made for a hellish February.     percent, its highest in 20 months.    out.”
   “We had an opening for some-         bling, six lobbyists told The           March 2004, Zeiger said.              Federal prosecutors issued sub-            The popularity was not to last,        Even in his hometown, howev-
one with Israeli ties,” an MWW          Record that the Democratic State           “It just didn’t work out,’’ said   poenas related to Yontef’s claims.      for a new scandal was about to        er, Cipel will have a reminder of
employee said. “This is a large firm    Committee was offering meetings         Zeiger, who acknowledged that he      And Republican legislators re-          erupt. On May 4, McGreevey fund-      Charles Kushner. Earlier this year,
with a major international prac-        with McGreevey for a fee of             perhaps should have checked           leased letters suggesting that Kush-    raiser David D’Amiano was indict-     Israeli newspapers reported that
tice, and he sounded like a PR guy      $25,000.                                Cipel’s previous employers before     ner was lying about the ownership       ed, charged in federal court with     Kushner was building a large
who would be perfect.”                      The governor, just 12 months in     hiring him. “I really needed him to   of NorCrown Bank. One letter            extorting bribes from a Middlesex     apartment house in the Tel Aviv
   But just as in state government,     office, ended 2002 in a sorry state.    focus, and he did not do it, for      said Kushner was the owner; an-         County landowner. The court pa-       suburb.
Cipel was rarely seen around the        Republican lawmakers were ask-          whatever reason.’’ Where was Mc-      other said his family was. The con-     pers revealed a weird detail: Mc-
office. He complained about driv-       ing the U.S. attorney to investigate    Greevey? Way down in the Quin-        trol of the bank was noteworthy         Greevey, in a meeting with the E-mail: younge@northjersey.com
ing to the Meadowlands from             Democratic fund-raising practices.      nipiac University opinion polls.      because New Jersey forbids major-       landowner, had been tape-record- and pillets@northjersey.com
6 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                                JANUARY 2005


                                                                                              Published Friday, Feb. 15, 2002



Governor names contributor to PA board
                                                                                                                                                                                     lenges for the publicity-shy Kushner, however. He is
By ADAM LISBERG and JEFF PILLETS
STAFF WRITERS                                               Magnate gave generously to campaign                                                                                      used to guarding his privacy, keeping his financial
                                                                                                                                                                                     details of the family business under wraps and
     Governor McGreevey, who promised to change                                                                                                                                      speaking to the media only when it involves real es-
the way Trenton does business, has emulated his             besides political contributions that would recom-            erated its headquarters in the ruined skyscrapers,          tate.
predecessors by naming one of his largest political         mend him for this position.”                                 and lost 75 employees — from rookie police officers            He is best known as a donor to Democrats, and
donors to the board of the Port Authority of New                Paul Aronsohn, a McGreevey spokesman, said               to the executive director — when the buildings were         once arranged a $2.1 million fund-raising event in
York and New Jersey.                                        Kushner’s extensive business experience and close            destroyed Sept. 11.                                         Newark for Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., that
    Livingston real estate magnate Charles Kushner,         working relationship with the governor eminently                Kushner’s relationships with politicians and his         had President Bill Clinton as the featured speaker.
47, has been one of the state’s most prominent po-          qualified him for the unpaid post. He denied that po-        experience as a real estate developer in New York           Yet he also steered $62,000 to the abortive Senate
litical donors for several years, steering more than $1     litical money played any role in the governor’s de-          City and New Jersey could help the Port Authority,          campaign of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giu-
million to favored candidates.                              cision.                                                      supporters said. The agency is trying to plan the fu-       liani, a Republican.
    In many cases, he has used a little-known loop-             “In all his nominations, Jim McGreevey is bring-         ture of the World Trade Center site, rebuild a dam-            Kushner’s political giving can be difficult to track,
hole in campaign finance law that allowed him to            ing the best and the brightest to serve New Jersey,”         aged section of the PATH subway line, and safe-             because of a loophole that allows him to donate
donate hundreds of thousands of dollars under oth-          Aronsohn said. “He has no doubt that Charles                 guard its tunnels, bridges, and airports against future     large sums in small amounts, listed under the names
er people’s names.                                          Kushner is the best man for this position.”                  terrorism. Solomon declined to comment on the               of other people who invest in his real estate ven-
    Kushner and companies connected to him gave                 A spokesman for Kushner said he would detail             widespread speculation that Kushner is being                tures.
more than $225,000 to McGreevey’s campaign and              Kushner’s credentials for the post “at the appropri-         groomed to become chairman of the Port Authori-                A favored candidate will typically receive a bun-
political action committee in 1999 and 2000 alone.          ate time,” but denied that campaign donations were           ty board. He noted that Kushner has not accepted            dle of checks, all written for identical amounts on
    Campaign finance watchdogs, who have sifted             a factor.                                                    the nomination to the board, and said it was too ear-       the same day, attributed to dozens of other investors
millions of records over the years to track Kushner’s           “Absolutely not. But critics, what else are they go-     ly to consider whether his real estate holdings would       who all list the Kushner address in Florham Park.
contributions, were not surprised that one of Mc-           ing to say?” asked spokesman Steve Solomon. “He              pose any conflicts of interest.                                Kushner’s giving has led to ethical questions in
Greevey’s most generous donors would also receive           has a very strong track record as a corporate exec-             If Kushner accepts the appointment, as expected,         the past. In 1999, Giuliani was forced to return
one of his most prestigious appointments.                   utive and as a philanthropist.”                              he will take the seat formerly held by Bergen Coun-         $57,000 raised by Kushner because some of it ex-
    “I’m not sure what there is in the background of            The appointment is for a six-year term.                  ty Clerk Kathleen A. Donovan, a GOP candidate for           ceeded campaign finance limits.
Mr. Kushner, other than giving a lot of campaign                The Port Authority, which is controlled by the           county executive. Donovan, appointed in 1994 by                Last year, New York mayoral candidates Alan G.
contributions,” said Larry Makinson, a senior fellow        governors of New York and New Jersey, is struggling          Gov. Christie Whitman, stepped down in December.            Hevesi and Mark Green returned $51,000 of Kush-
at the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington,        to recover from its staggering losses at the World              Serving on the board of a high-profile agency            ner’s donations because they were above the allow-
D.C. “One would hope there would be something               Trade Center. The agency owned the complex, op-              such as the Port Authority is likely to pose new chal-      able limits.


                                                                                           Published Thursday, Feb. 21, 2002



McGreevey picks Israeli as adviser on security
By JEFF PILLETS and CLINT RILEY                                                                                                                                                                   Zion’s Committee for Culture. Two years
STAFF WRITERS                                   Calls ex-campaign aide a ‘super-bright’ individual                                                                                                later, he was appointed to the city’s Com-
                                                                                                                                                                                                  mittee for Higher Education. He later
 Governor McGreevey has tapped a for-                                                                                                                                                             worked as an aide at the Knesset, Israel’s
eign national and former campaign aide              Cipel, a Lawrenceville resident, will         Jersey’s newly appointed terror czar, As-       year after Israel ended its Six-Day War         Parliament.
with limited experience in U.S. domestic        make $110,000 a year. McGreevey says it           sistant Attorney General Kathryn Flicker.       with Egypt. He spent his childhood in Ris-         By 1996, Cipel had become one of the
security as his closest adviser on coun-        is money well spent.                                 Even before McGreevey’s election in          hon Le Zion, Israel’s fourth-largest city.      Israeli government’s top spokesmen in the
terterrorism.                                       In an hour-long interview, the governor       November, administration sources said,             By his late teens, he had become an ac-      United States.
   Golan Cipel, 33, an Israeli citizen, oc-     called Cipel his “eyes and ears on securi-        Cipel toured the state — visiting refineries,   complished poet. His book of poetry, “The          While working in New York, Cipel at-
cupies a second-floor State House office        ty issues.” He said the Israeli’s experience      nuclear plants, bridges, and seaports — to      Road of Thorns,” was honored by the Is-         tended New York Institute of Technolo-
where he works as special counsel to the        in the terror-stricken Middle East, cou-          make an inventory of security needs. Mc-        rael Institute of Art in 1987.                  gy. He earned a bachelor of fine arts de-
governor on homeland security. He was           pled with his communication skills,               Greevey said Cipel has already offered             But as with most young men in Israel,        gree in communication arts from the
appointed to the newly created position         makes him a valuable asset to New Jersey          “invaluable insights” into a variety of se-     more serious duty called and Cipel joined       school in 1998, school officials confirmed.
without an official announcement or the         in the post-Sept. 11 era.                         curity matters, both large and small.           the military. He served in the Navy Patrol      McGreevey’s office said Cipel holds a
extensive background checks that are rou-           “If we’ve learned one thing since Sept.          “He’s someone who thinks with a dif-         Boat Unit in the Israel Defense Forces for      master’s degree in communications from
tine for most top state officials.              11, it’s that homeland security is all about      ferent set of eyes, and that is very hard to    five years.                                     the school, a fact school officials could not
   “I didn’t feel that kind of check was        communication,” McGreevey said.                   find,” McGreevey said.                             When his naval tour ended he became          immediately confirm.
necessary,” McGreevey said Wednesday.           “We’ve got all these agencies out there but          Sources close to the task force said         a reservist, where he served as a platoon          McGreevey said Cipel is already work-
“I know Golan and have worked with              we’ve got to make them work together.             Cipel also played a key role in persuading      commander after attending the Army Of-          ing smoothly with other key officials in the
him closely. He’s a super-bright and su-        It’s all about coordination. It’s all about in-   McGreevey not to tap former FBI chief           ficers Academy. He remains a lieutenant         state’s burgeoning domestic security ap-
per-competent individual who brings a           telligence.”                                      Louis J. Freeh to head the state’s Domes-       in the Israeli military reserves.               paratus. Last month, the governor signed
great wealth of knowledge on security.”             McGreevey said Cipel was not avail-           tic Security Preparedness Task Force,              According to a release issued by the         an executive order creating the Office of
   Cipel is a former Israeli sailor and part-   able for an interview Wednesday.                  which was created in October. Officials         governor’s office, Cipel also received train-   Counterterrorism and named Flicker, a
time poet with a background in public re-           The governor said he met Cipel nearly         who served in the administration of for-        ing in intelligence analysis and emergency      career state prosecutor, to head the new
lations and politics. For the last 10 years,    three years ago when he visited the Israeli       mer acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco           response to terror attacks during his re-       agency.
he has worked in a variety of jobs, includ-     city of Rishon Le Zion, where Cipel was           said Freeh had agreed to take the unpaid        serve career. More recently, the release           Flicker, former director of the state’s
ing stints as a television news reporter and    the spokesman for the mayor. He said he           post if McGreevey approved.                     says, he studied the Israeli Homeland De-       Division of Criminal Justice, is also chair-
spokesman for the Israeli Consulate in          was immediately impressed with Cipel’s               McGreevey declined to comment on             fense System during a course on military        woman of the state’s domestic security
Manhattan.                                      intelligence and grasp of security issues.        Freeh. Several Democrats said Cipel had         and emergency communication.                    task force, which was formed by the Leg-
   The state’s new domestic security ad-            “The Israelis live with terror every day.     argued strongly against the choice, point-         People who know Cipel said his real          islature less than a month after the terror-
viser is a newcomer to New Jersey. Last         Their very survival depends on being pre-         ing out that the former FBI director would      love is politics. He came to New Jersey,        ist attacks.
year, he moved to New Jersey to take a          pared,” McGreevey said. “Golan has                be a part-time volunteer when the gover-        they say, to get a firsthand look at an            But it is Cipel’s, not Flicker’s, name that
full-time paid position with the state De-      served in the Israeli military. He is unique-     nor wanted a full-time terror czar.             American political campaign.                    appears on the federal Office of Home-
mocratic Committee. During the 2001 gu-         ly qualified to point out weaknesses.”               “Louis Freeh is without a doubt the na-         “He wanted to come over here and             land Security Web site as the person the
bernatorial race, Cipel served as Mc-               Democrats close to the administration         tion’s leading expert on counterterrorism       work for McGreevey,” said David Malick,         governor appointed as New Jersey’s
Greevey’s liaison to the state’s Jewish         say McGreevey and Cipel have struck up            and homeland security,” said one top law        an official with United Jewish Federation       homeland security contact. Flicker was
community and as an informal adviser on         a close friendship and frequently travel to-      enforcement source. “Even as a part-time        of MetroWest, a New Jersey non-profit           not available for comment Wednesday.
security matters. His other duties includ-      gether. When the FBI issued a terrorist           adviser, he would be a spectacular asset        group.                                             “Well, Golan is not the official repre-
ed planning McGreevey’s inaugural pa-           alert last week, it was apparently Cipel          for the state.”                                    At age 24, after leaving the Navy, Cipel     sentative, but he’s my representative,” Mc-
rade through the streets of Trenton.            who first contacted McGreevey, not New               Cipel was born in Tel Aviv in 1968, a        was appointed to serve on Rishon Le             Greevey said.


                                                                                            Published Friday, March 8, 2002



Israeli quits as security adviser to McGreevey
By CHARLES STILE                                                                                                                                                                                  patronage hire that belied McGreevey’s
TRENTON BUREAU                                  Will keep $110,000 salary in ‘special counsel’ job                                                                                                call for fiscal austerity amid a state budg-
                                                                                                                                                                                                  et crisis.
   Israeli citizen Golan Cipel resigned as      Cipel also would be executive director of         ley said, referring to the governor. “One       time paid position with the state Democ-           The Cipel controversy had threatened
Governor McGreevey’s security adviser           the New Jersey-Israel Commission.                 of the criticisms I had was how can you         ratic Committee. During the gubernato-          to cast a shadow over the future role of
Thursday amid a controversy over his            Sources close to the commission said last         have someone handling security matters          rial campaign, he was an informal advis-        Charles Kushner, a Florham Park real es-
qualifications that threatened to engulf        week that McGreevey was considering               who can’t get a security clearance.”            er on security matters and a liaison to         tate magnate and a major Democratic
the two-month-old administration in an          Cipel for that post. Cipel had served Mc-            Other Republicans took a similar view.       Jewish groups in New Jersey Lawmakers           Party contributor.
ugly political battle.                          Greevey as a liaison to Jewish groups                “He [Cipel] appears to be well quali-        criticized McGreevey for giving Cipel a            Kushner is widely viewed to be Mc-
   At a late-afternoon news conference,         during last year’s campaign.                      fied to be a communications expert,” said       sensitive security position without first       Greevey’s choice for chairman of the
McGreevey said the 33-year-old Cipel, a            McGreevey’s decision came one day              state Sen. Henry P. McNamara, R-Wyck-           requiring him to undergo the background         Port Authority of New York and New
former campaign aide, has been reas-            after state Sen. William L. Gormley —             off, referring to Cipel’s public relations      check that is routine for top administra-       Jersey.
signed as “special counsel to the gover-        co-chairman of the powerful Senate Ju-            background.                                     tion officials.                                    Cipel reentered the United States in
nor” at the same pay, $110,000. The gov-        diciary Committee — threatened to block              “I’m glad that the governor finally read        They openly questioned whether Cipel         early 2001 under a work visa sponsored
ernor declined to say what matters Cipel        all future McGreevey appointments un-             his resume.”                                    was qualified, arguing that, as an Israeli      by Kushner.
will consult on, but said his duties will be    less Cipel testified before a legislative            Gormley’s threat capped nearly two           citizen, he would not be eligible for the          A Kushner spokesman said Cipel then
determined on an “as needed basis.”             committee about his job and back-                 weeks of complaints about Cipel.                security clearances he would need to            worked in Kushner’s corporate office,
   McGreevey said Cipel repeatedly re-          ground. Gormley, R-Atlantic, said he                 The cascade of criticism began when          gain access to top-level intelligence.          earning $30,000 a year for part-time
quested over the past 2½ weeks to be re-        would back off his threat if Cipel were           details about Cipel’s job and background           Opponents of the original appoint-           work writing press releases and
lieved of his “state security duties.” The      given a different post.                           were reported in The Record.                    ment questioned why McGreevey need-             brochures.
governor said he “reluctantly” agreed af-          Reached last night, Gormley sounded               A former Israeli sailor and a published      ed a special adviser on security, particu-
ter it became clear that Cipel’s Israeli cit-   more conciliatory.                                poet, Cipel was chief information officer       larly after he appointed veteran prosecu-       Trenton Bureau Correspondent Charles
izenship barred him from handling sen-             “It sounds as though he has made a             for the Israeli Consulate in New York in        tor Kathryn Flicker as the state’s anti-ter-    Stile’s e-mail address is stile@northjersey
sitive security information.                    reasonable step to take away what had             the late 1990s. He moved to Lawrence            rorism czar.                                    .com. Staff Writer Herb Jackson con-
   McGreevey said it was “unlikely” that        been an untenable predicament,” Gorm-             Township last year, when he took a full-           The opponents denounced Cipel as a           tributed to this article.
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                   THE RECORD 7




               F R I E N D   O F   T H E    P E O P L E         I T    S E R V E S
                               www.northjersey.com




                             Published Sunday, June 16, 2002




                                        Paying                                       for

                                        power
                                      How Charles Kushner funneled millions
                                      to politicians and became the governor’s
                                      choice to lead the Port Authority
                                     By JEFF PILLETS and CLINT RILEY                one of the governor’s inner circle of trust-
                                     TRENTON BUREAU                                 ed advisers and his nominee to the pow-
                                                                                    erful Port Authority of New York and
                                       A thousand well-wishers filled the
                                                                                    New Jersey.
                                     Grand Ballroom of New York City’s his-
                                                                                       A close review by The Record of
                                     toric Puck Building on short notice three
                                                                                    Kushner’s donations in the last five years
                                     months ago for the bris of Charles
                                                                                    shows just how grand his largesse really
                                     Kushner’s 8-day-old grandson.
                                                                                    is: In that time, Kushner, his family, and
                                       Rudy Giuliani was there. Former U.S.
                                                                                    business associates funneled at least $3.1
                                     Sen. Frank Lautenberg came. New
                                                                                    million to political committees and politi-
                                     Jersey’s Governor McGreevey even man-
                                                                                    cians.
                                     aged to hobble in on crutches.
                                                                                       Kushner’s four children gave almost
                                       The high-wattage turnout at the gala
                                                                                    $300,000, some even before they were
                                     Jewish circumcision ceremony was no
                                                                                    old enough to vote. On a single day in
                                     surprise to political insiders. Although far
                                                                                    March last year, Kushner’s contribution
                                     from a household name, the 48-year-old
                                                                                    network gave $237,000 to the state
                                     Kushner — a multimillionaire New Jersey
                                                                                    Democratic Committee.
                                     real estate developer — is renowned as a
                                                                                       While businesses and corporations of
                                     generous donor. He already plays a
                                                                                    all stripes traditionally use campaign con-
                                     prominent role in the administration, as
                                                                                    tributions to advance their own special
                                                                                    interests, Kushner’s record shows he has
                                                                                    taken political giving to an extreme,
                                                                                    exploiting loopholes in the very state and
                                                                                                      See HARD-NOSED Page 8
8 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                           JANUARY 2005


                                                                                         Published Sunday, June 16, 2002



Hard-nosed deal maker runs empire
From Page 7                            of the Community Affairs De-            lies who carried on a long tradi-
federal campaign laws designed         partment — overseeing regula-           tion of public service, Kushner is
to limit the influence of powerful     tions and government subsidies          an intensely private man who has
individuals and corporations.          that touch every layer of the vast      never held any government post.
    No single politician has bene-     Kushner empire.”Charlie’s be-           Tapped for the unsalaried Port
fited from Kushner’s open wallet       come an unofficial member of            Authority post in February,
more than McGreevey. Since             the Cabinet — always there with a       Kushner has yet to publicly dis-
1997, the Kushner network has          helping hand,” said one leading         cuss his vision for the bi-state
contributed more than $1.5 mil-        Democrat, who asked not to be           agency as it faces a host of critical
lion to political funds benefiting     identified because the governor is      security, transportation, and de-
McGreevey.                             “sensitive to criticism” of Kush-       velopment issues. Kushner de-
    Now the Livingston develop-        ner.                                    nied repeated requests for an in-
er’s investments in a rising polit-       The donations to McGreevey           terview for this story, deferring all
ical star are paying off: One          and other politicians paralleled a      questions to the governor’s office
month after taking office, Mc-         rapid expansion of Kushner’s            and two personal public relations
Greevey named Kushner to the           business. Since the late 1990s, it      consultants.
Port Authority with the intention      has grown into one of the na-              In May, Kushner sidestepped a
of making him chairman. The job        tion’s largest privately held real      potentially embarrassing public
would give him enormous influ-         estate companies, which owns            appearance before the state Sen-
ence over real estate develop-         22,000 apartments and employs           ate Judiciary Committee, which
ment decisions in the New York         more than 1,000 people.                 was considering his nomination
metropolitan area, including re-          Kushner makes no secret of           to the Port Authority.
building of the World Trade Cen-       his ultimate goal: “I want to be           Some senators on the commit-
ter site.                              one of the largest owners in the        tee had concerns about Kushner
    “When people start throwing        country in the next 10 years,”          business practices and associa-
that kind of money into the po-        Kushner told The Wall Street            tions detailed in media reports.
litical process like Kushner is do-    Journal in September 2000.              Two Democrats told The Record
ing, that’s a whole lot more than                                              that McGreevey brokered a deal
access,” said Craig Holman, a po-      A private man                           to have Kushner report to the At-       Developer Charles Kushner, right, is no stranger to political figures at the state and national level. Kushn-
litical scientist at New York Uni-        Lautenberg, who has known            torney General’s Office for an in-      er at a recent benefit with former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, left, and former President Bill Clinton.
versity’s Brennan Center for Jus-      Kushner for more than 20 years,         formal, closed-door inquiry into
tice and a leading voice for gov-      compares the developer’s family         his background, rather than ap-         noted philanthropist, Kushner is
ernment ethics.                        to legendary American families          pear before the committee.              also described as a hard-nosed
    “He could buy access by just       who have made their mark, such             Kushner’s nomination was             deal maker, a calculating and
hosting cocktail parties with var-     as    the     Rockefellers      and     unanimously cleared by the com-         egotistical businessman who
ious governors. When he is             Kennedys. Like them, Lauten-            mittee without debate. The full         works extraordinarily long hours
throwing that kind of money into       berg said, Kushner aggressively         Senate may vote on his nomina-          studying the real estate markets
it, I view it as a commercial en-      promotes his philanthropic and          tion as soon as Thursday. He is         and assessing his next move.
terprise. He expects return on his     political causes while advancing        expected to be approved.                   A 1976 graduate of New York
dollar, and it appears he is getting   his business and personal inter-           Howard Rubenstein, one of            University, Kushner earned his
it.”                                   ests.                                   his spokesmen, said Kushner has         law degree from Hofstra Univer-
    The Port Authority plum ap-           “Why does Charlie give so            “very definite ideas” about what        sity and an M.B.A. from NYU
pears to be just one return on         much money?” Lautenberg said.           he wants once he becomes Port           three years later. He practiced tax
Kushner’s investment.                  “Well, he sincerely believes it’s       Authority chairman, but cau-            and real estate law in New Jersey
    Today, other people Kushner        his duty to promote the causes he       tioned that it would be inappro-        and New York before joining the
assisted with big checks or lucra-     believes in. But he also knows he       priate to discuss them before he        family business in 1985.
tive business deals are key players    has to protect his business. It’s re-   takes the job.                             Charles Kushner and his old-
in McGreevey’s administration —        ally part of a great tradition in          “He’s taking this position very      er brother, Murray, inherited a
including the chief of staff, the      this country.”                          seriously,” said Rubenstein, who        real estate empire built from
head of the New Jersey Turnpike           Unlike the Kennedys and the          strongly denied that Kushner was        nothing by their late father,
Authority, and the commissioner        Rockefellers, highly visible fami-      nominated for the job because of        Joseph, a Russian survivor of the
                                                                               his political contributions. “This      Holocaust who came to the Unit-
                                                                               is not a ceremonial post for Mr.        ed States as a construction work-
                                                                               Kushner. He plans to give every-        er in 1949. The fortune Joseph
                                                                               thing he has for this job, and that     Kushner bequeathed to his sons
                                                                               is considerable.”                       had been painstakingly amassed,
                                                                                  The Record made multiple at-         one garden apartment at a time,
                                                                               tempts to talk with McGreevey           by conservative cash acquisitions.
                                                                               about his nominee. Approached           Big risks and leveraged deals
                                                                               Thursday afternoon after an ap-         were not part of the family busi-
                                                                               pearance in Princeton, the gover-       ness philosophy.
                                                                               nor declined an interview.                 But Kushner’s aggressive style,
                                                                                  New Jersey’s governors have a        as evidenced by the dramatic ex-
                                                                               tradition of nominating top con-        pansion and diversification of the
                                                                               tributors and fund-raisers to the       family holdings, suggests that
                                                                               Port Authority. Former Gov.             when it comes to business he is
                                                                               Christie Whitman named Lew              anything but his father’s son.
                                                                               Eisenberg, an investment banker            In less than a decade and a
                                                                               who was one of her major fund-          half, he has leveraged his inheri-
                                                                               raisers, as chairman — the job tra-     tance to make Kushner Compa-
                                                                               ditionally held by a New Jer-           nies one of the nation’s fastest-
                                                                               seyan, while New York fills the         growing private real estate com-
                                                                               executive director’s post.              panies. With a single $280 mil-
                                                                                  Kushner’s supporters say his         lion deal in 1999, Kushner signif-
                                                                               negotiating skills, business acu-       icantly increased the size of his                                                HOLLY MONTALBANO/STAFF ARTIST
                                                                               men, and knowledge of real es-          empire by adding 8,000 apart-
                                                                               tate markets make him a natural         ments in Delaware, Pennsylva-
                                                                               choice. As Port Authority chair-        nia, New Jersey, and Maryland.           Kushner is now vying for a           He serves on the boards of more
                                                                               man, Kushner would have a vital         The 22,000 units he controls are      chunk of the $1.2 billion recon-        than half a dozen other educa-
                                                                               role in overseeing a $4.5 billion       spread over nine states. His          struction of Asbury Park’s fabled       tional, medical, and Jewish or-
                                                                               annual budget, three airports, the      North Jersey holdings include         oceanside. In Perth Amboy, he is        ganizations, including the Joseph
                                                                               PATH trains, and all major river        properties in Bergen, Passaic, Es-    the lone developer for a $600           Kushner Hebrew Academy and
                                                                               crossings in the metropolitan           sex, and Morris counties.             million project that promises to        Kushner Yeshiva High School in
                                                                               area.                                      Kushner has branched far           transform that dilapidated water-       Livingston, which he founded in
                                                                                  Hazel Gluck, a prominent lob-        from garden apartments. His rap-      front.                                  his father’s memory.
                                                                               byist and Republican fund-raiser        idly expanding portfolio includes        But as the company expanded,             For Charles Kushner, giving is
                                                                               who served on the Port Authori-         a title company, an insurance         the family divided. Murray Kush-        a way of life.
                                                                               ty board for six years, said the        business, a telecommunications        ner sued his brother last Septem-           “Charlie is revered in philan-
                                                                               chairmanship carries “a huge            firm, and the Livingston-based        ber, demanding an accounting of         thropic circles and rightfully so —
                                                                               amount of prestige” within polit-       NorCrown Bank chain. Court            all revenues and disbursements          he’s everywhere,” said Alan
                                                                               ical circles and the business com-      documents and information on          since 1997.                             Steinberg, a leading Republican
                                                                               munity.                                 Kushner’s Web site show that, all        He alleges that Charles Kush-        in Essex County.
                                                                                  That person influences the           told, he controls more than 100       ner kept part of his partners’              “It’s as natural and necessary
                                                                               awarding of construction jobs           companies and real estate part-       profits, ignored key partnership        for him as breathing,” Lauten-
                                                                               across the region and millions of       nerships, including firms in          agreements, and withheld basic          berg said. “It doesn’t really matter
                                                                               dollars in consulting contracts         Canada and Israel.                    accounting information about            if it’s philanthropy or politics — if
                                                                               that go with them, she said.               As the company’s suburban          company real estate investments.        Charlie believes in something he
                                                                                  “Sooner or later, the chairman       portfolio has grown, Kushner has      The brothers agreed in March to         puts his money down.”
                                                                               sits down with anybody who is           increasingly looked to invest in      have a court-appointed arbiter
                                                                               important in the world of devel-        New Jersey’s cities. In 1999, he      resolve their dispute in secret.        Willing to spend
                                                                               opment, politics, and high fi-          bought the landmark Mutual               Despite the bitter dispute be-           Kushner clearly has faith in the
                                                                               nance,” said Gluck, also a former       Benefit Life Insurance Co. build-     tween brothers, Kushner’s friends       Democratic Party — and a few
                                                                               state Transportation commis-            ing in Newark for $10.5 million       say he is a devoted family man —        well-positioned Republicans. In
                                                                               sioner. “The chairman can make          and immediately engineered a          he and his wife, Seryl, have four       the last five years, Kushner’s po-
                                                                               more contacts than he ever              profitable refinancing,, prompt-      children — and a generous con-          litical contributions have explod-
                                                                               dreamed of.”                            ing real estate analysts to marvel    tributor to philanthropies of all       ed, especially in New Jersey’s last
                                                                                                                       at his ability to spot opportunity.   kinds, especially Jewish charities      two gubernatorial elections. In
                                                                               Thinking big                               “Charlie has a nose for value,”    across New Jersey.                      1997, the first time McGreevey
                                                                                  Friends and business associ-         said Ara Hovnanian, the nation’s         Kushner is a trustee for Hofs-       ran, the Kushner network donat-
                                                                               ates of Kushner describe him as a       ninth-largest home builder and a      tra, his alma mater, where the          ed $555,000 to Democrats. Last
                                                                               complex and fascinating amal-           partner with Kushner on many          law school campus includes the          year, it contributed nearly $1.2
                                               JERRY LUCIANI/STAFF ARTIST      gam of contradictory traits. A          projects in New Jersey.               Seryl and Charles Kushner Hall.                   See DEVELOPER Page 9



Kushner maneuvers money, influence through legal labyrinth
By JEFF PILLETS                        that benefited James E. Mc-             ness entity known as limited lia-       companies and partnerships may        state and federal candidates from       comes that they made the contri-
and CLINT RILEY                        Greevey during the five years he        bility companies, often formed by       contribute to a candidate only        New Jersey and New York.                butions,” Cummis said.
TRENTON BUREAU                         was campaigning for governor.           developers for individual projects.     once. Last year, New York City            The Campaign Reform Act that           This year, Common Cause of
                                          Unlike 21 states, New Jersey al-     Until Jan. 1, 2001, New Jersey law      mayoral candidates Alan G.            President Bush signed in March          New Jersey asked state regulators
    A bewildering array of federal     lows corporations to give cash di-      permitted LLCs to make contribu-        Hevesi and Mark Green were            will, among other reforms, prohib-      to adopt clearer rules regarding
and state campaign finance laws is     rectly to politicians and political     tions without disclosing who con-       forced to return $51,000 in contri-   it anyone 17 or younger from con-       limited liability companies.
designed to do one thing: limit the    parties — in some cases up to           trolled them. This allowed individ-     butions from the Kushner network      tributing to a federal candidate or        The advocacy group’s recom-
political influence of any one indi-   $37,000. Despite years of trying,       uals like Kushner, who controlled       because of that regulation.           political party. The law takes effect   mendations also include a propos-
vidual or corporation.                 reformers in New Jersey have been       dozens of such companies, to get           New Jersey law permits minors      after the November elections if it      al to limit deep-pocketed federal
   But a sophisticated donor like      unable to take corporations’ hands      around contribution limits.             14 years or older to make cam-        weathers several constitutional         party committees from influencing
multimillionaire developer Charles     out of the political process.              Yet even after the ban went into     paign contributions if the money      court challenges.                       New Jersey gubernatorial elec-
Kushner can use the complexities          Frederick M. Herrmann, the ex-       effect, state regulations were vague    comes from their “earned income”          Clive S. Cummis, a lawyer hired     tions. Such a provision would
and weaknesses in the law to mag-      ecutive director of the New Jersey      about what constitutes a violation,     and they and their guardian sub-      by the developer to review all cam-     have prohibited the Democratic
nify his influence in the political    Election Law Enforcement Com-           and loopholes still permit the indi-    mit sworn statements that a deci-     paign contributions made by             National Committee from redi-
system.                                mission, said the Legislature has       viduals who control multiple LLCs       sion to contribute was solely the     Kushner interests since 2000, said      recting $500,000 contributed by
   Through a network of family         ignored the commission’s recom-         to give multiple times.                 teenager’s.                           all contributions made by Kush-         Kushner last year to campaign ac-
members, business associates, and      mendation for a corporate money            Laws in other states are more           Kushner found that clause, too     ner’s children followed the law.        counts benefiting McGreevey.
affiliated companies he controls,      ban every year since 1988.              direct. In New York, for example,       —at least two of his children were        “I have been advised that those        Herrmann said ELEC antici-
Kushner managed to funnel more            Another weakness in New Jer-         managing members or general             still teenagers when they donated     children have very substantial in-      pates issuing a new set of recom-
than $1.5 million to political funds   sey’s law involves a type of busi-      partners who oversee multiple           tens of thousands of dollars to       comes, and it was from their in-        mendations to improve the system.
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                               THE RECORD 9


                                                                                         Published Sunday, June 16, 2002



Developer within McGreevey’s circle
From Page 8                                 “After Sept. 11, the Port Au-      is now executive director of the
million, almost all to Democrats.       thority has a whole lot more to        New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
    About half of all the Kushner       worry about than collecting               ä Attorney General David
contributions went directly to          tolls,” said Larry Makinson, a         Samson, New Jersey’s top law en-
candidates. The other half — so-        senior fellow at the non-partisan      forcement officer, did extensive
called soft money donations —           Center for Responsive Politics in      legal work for Kushner and his
went to political parties and po-       Washington, D.C. “You would            companies before joining the ad-
litical action committees. Soft         hope the top jobs would be giv-        ministration. Arthur Goldstein,           McGREEVEY          TORRICELLI          CLINTON           CORZINE               LAUTENBERG           SCHUMER
money can’t be used to advocate         en to the best people, not the         an attorney with Samson’s firm,
for the election of a specific can-     contributor with the deepest           is defending Kushner in the fi-
didate, but it can be used for
party building, get-out-the vote
                                        pockets.”
                                            Kushner, Makinson said, is
                                                                               nancial dispute with his brother.
                                                                                  Kushner has especially close
                                                                                                                         Kushner cash machine
                                                                                                                         Real estate mogul Charles Kushner, his family, companies, and business associates have contributed
efforts, and attack ads against         nothing less than “a modern-day        ties to Taffet, who as chief of staff
                                                                                                                         $3.1 million to federal and state political funds since 1997. The bulk of the money has benefited New
opponents.                              political boss.”                       is the first person McGreevey
                                                                                                                         Jersey's and New York's most powerful and influential politicians, men and women with a say in how
    Listed as contributors in the           New York University’s Hol-         telephones each morning. In
                                                                                                                         the region develops. U.S. Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.,
Kushner network are 85 family           man said Kushner’s ability “to         2000, Kushner bought Highview
                                                                                                                         and New Jersey's Governor McGreevey all count Kushner and his companies as their biggest political
members and business partners           systematically buy his way into a      Planning, Taffet’s Woodbridge in-
                                                                                                                         donors. Others who received donations include Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.,Sen. Jon Corzine, D-
in companies the developer con-         position of vast influence” illus-     surance business. Neither Kush-
                                                                                                                         N.J., and Frank Lautenberg, former Democratic senator from New Jersey. The following is a list of the
trols.                                  trates how the cash-crazy elec-        ner nor Taffet will say how much
                                                                                                                         beneficiaries:
    Kushner’s four children have        toral system has failed voters.        the deal was worth, but Taffet, on
given to the same causes as their           “What he’s doing here is           a recently filed ethics disclosure        Democratic National Committee                            Schumer
father. His son Jared, a 21-year-       frankly astonishing,” Holman           form, said he had received at
old college student, is listed as       said after reviewing a computer-       least $350,000 from Kushner.              DNC Services Corp.-DNC                    $406,000       Schumer '98                                      $40,000
making more than two dozen              ized database of Kushner’s con-           After buying Taffet’s company,         DNC-Non-Federal General/2001              $200,000       Friends of Schumer                               $26,000
contributions totaling $82,000.         tributions compiled by The             Kushner made Taffet president of          DNC-Non-Federal Victory 2001              $300,000       Total                                            $66,000
Jared’s 17-year-old brother,            Record. “This kind of coordina-        Vantage Insurance, an affiliate of        DNC-Non-Federal-Corporate                 $160,000
Joshua, gave $44,000, while 19-         tion is obviously an attempt to get    the Kushner Cos. Taffet left Van-                                                                  Other contributions
year-old Nicole gave $67,000. On        around legal contribution limits.      tage last year to join the Mc-            Total                                    $1,066,000
                                                                                                                                                                                  Friends of Giuliani
Nov. 1, 2000, Nicole and Joshua         The bottom line is that public         Greevey administration, in the            NJ Democratic State Committee                            Exploratory Committee                $64,000
each wrote checks to the state          policy is being made not by prin-      same role he had played in Mc-                                                       $661,000      Gore 2000 Inc.                       $41,000
Democratic Party — for $30,000          ciple, but by payment up front.”       Greevey’s first term as mayor.
and $20,000.                                Rubenstein, the developer’s           Taffet is not the only adminis-        McGreevey                                                Bill Bradley for President Inc.      $30,500
    Kushner’s mother, Rae, is list-     spokesman, denied that Kush-           tration official Kushner once em-                                                                  Union County Democratic Committee $30,000
                                                                                                                         James E. McGreevey 1997                     $70,000
ed as contributing $72,000.             ner’s political investments are        ployed. Last year, Kushner hired                                                                   New Millennium PAC                   $27,500
Kushner’s brother-in-law and            purely business decisions or that      Golan Cipel, a 33-year-old Israeli        James E. McGreevey 2001                    $152,650
                                                                                                                                                                                  Menendez for Congress                $22,000
business partner, Richard Stadt-        the multimillionaire orchestrates      who had worked in McGreevey’s             James E. McGreevey Inaugural 2002            $5,000
                                                                                                                                                                                  Doria Democratic Leadership Fund     $20,000
mauer, and five members of              “any set program of political giv-     campaign as outreach coordina-            James E. McGreevey,
Stadtmauer’s family have given          ing” among his family and em-          tor to Jewish voters. He put Cipel                                                                 Susan Bass Levin for Congress        $20,000
                                                                                                                         Committee for Working Families             $141,000
$199,200 since 1997 to various          ployees.                               to work writing press releases at         James E. McGreevey,
                                                                                                                                                                                  Pascrell for Congress Inc.           $16,500
Democrats and the aborted U.S.              Kushner company executives,        company         headquarters      in                                                               Lapolla for Congress Inc.            $10,000
Senate campaign of former New           Rubenstein said, make all their        Florham Park.                             Election Account of Mayor                   $50,700
                                                                                                                                                                                  Senate Democratic Majority 2001       $6,600
York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.            political contributions willingly.        Cipel made headlines this year         Total                                      $419,350
That total included $80,000 to          “There is no arm-twisting. Every-      when McGreevey appointed him                                                                       Hudson County Democratic Organization $5,000
McGreevey or to political com-          thing is above board,” he said.        to a $110,000 job as special
                                                                                                                         Democratic Senatorial Campaign                           Liberal Party of New York State       $5,000
mittees that benefited him.                 Rubenstein acknowledged,           counsel for homeland security,            Democratic Senatorial                                    New Jersey United Federal PAC         $5,000
    Sometimes, it seemed that           however, that Kushner makes            then had to remove him after              Campaign Committee                         $110,000      Somerset County Democratic Committee $5,000
Kushner and the people around           some contributions in the execu-       lawmakers from both parties               DSCC-Non-Federal Mixed                      $50,000      Senn 2000                             $3,000
him could not write checks fast         tives’ names without first inform-     protested that Cipel’s only ex-           Total                                      $160,000
enough.                                 ing them how much or to whom           pertise in counter-terrorism came                                                                  Patricia Sebold                       $2,500
    On March 25 of last year, the       the money is given. Kushner in-        from routine training in the Is-          Torricelli                                               Richard J. Codey                      $2,500
Democratic State Committee              forms the executives about the         raeli Navy.                               Torricelli for U.S. Senate Inc.             $60,000      Garry J. Furnari                      $2,200
made this haul: two checks for          contributions, Rubenstein said,           Cipel has remained in the ad-                                                                   Bob Franks for U.S. Senate Inc.       $2,000
$37,000 each from Kushner and           “either contemporaneously or af-       ministration at the same salary           Torricelli Legal Defense Fund               $65,000
                                                                                                                         Total                                      $125,000      Bret Schundler                        $2,000
his mother; $17,000 from Jared          terwards.”                             with the post of “special coun-
Kushner; $27,000 from his elder             While it is illegal for an indi-   sel.” The governor’s office has de-                                                                Dear 2000 Inc.                        $2,000
                                                                                                                         Clinton
sister, Dara; and $27,000 from          vidual or a company to make po-        clined to specify Cipel’s new du-                                                                  Dear for Congress Inc.                $2,000
brother Murray — even though he         litical donations in someone’s         ties.                                     Hillary Rodham Clinton
                                                                                                                                                                                  Kerry Committee                       $2,000
generally aims his donations at         name without their knowledge,             Spokesmen for Kushner and              for U.S. Senate Committee Inc.              $74,000
                                                                                                                                                                                  Joseph S. Suliga                      $1,800
Republicans. Five other Kushner         the law is less clear in situations    the administration say the devel-         HillPAC                                     $50,000
partners and their family mem-          where partners have a written or       oper’s contributions and rela-                                                                     Bonnie Watson Coleman                 $1,000
                                                                                                                         Total                                      $124,000
bers also kicked in checks, to          verbal agreement to allocate part-     tionships with government offi-                                                                    Jeff Van Drew                         $1,000
push the total take to $237,000.        nership money for campaign             cials have not resulted in special        Corzine                                                  John O. Bennett                       $1,000
    In the weeks before a June          contributions.                         treatment for him or his compa-           Corzine 2000 Inc.                           $80,000      Joseph Coniglio                       $1,000
2000 state committee fund-raiser            Clive Cummis, a prominent at-      nies.                                     Corzine Committee Inc.                       $8,000      Joseph L. Fiordaliso                  $1,000
titled, “A Special Evening in           torney and major Democratic               “The idea that Mr. Kushner is
Honor of Mayor James E. Mc-             fund-raiser in his own right, said     trying to buy his way inside the          Total                                       $88,000      Assoc. for Commercial Real Estate
Greevey,” Kushner and Stadt-            Kushner retained him in 2000 to        administration for personal or fi-        Lautenberg                                               American Development PAC               $500
mauer wrote three checks total-         review every federal, state, and       nancial gain is just wrong,”                                                                       *contributions came In 1997
ing $50,000 — part of $3 million        local campaign contribution            Rubenstein said. “That is not the         Lautenberg 2000 Committee                   $32,000      Sources: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission,
raised for the Woodbridge mayor         made by “Kushner interests” to         kind of man he is. That is not            Lautenberg Committee 1994*                  $13,000      Federal Election Commission, Clerk of the U.S. Senate.
that evening.                           make sure they comply with ap-         how he operates. His business             Lautenberg for U.S. Senate Committee        $32,000
    Even though Kushner made            plicable laws.                         does not depend on favors com-            Total                                       $77,000
contributions to the national De-           “They have followed the law,”      ing from elected officials.”
mocratic Party, McGreevey still         Cummis said. “We review every             McGreevey spokesman Paul
appeared to benefit from the do-        contribution they make to politi-      Aronsohn insisted that Kushner’s
nations. For example, campaign          cians. As far as we are concerned,     dealings with administration offi-
finance records show that com-          Charlie Kushner’s contributions        cials are insignificant. He said
panies controlled by Kushner            are legal.”                            many Cabinet officers and all
contributed $220,000 on a single                                               other top officials had the kinds
day — Sept. 27, 2001 — to the           Cabinet connections                    of careers in which they were
Non-Federal Victory 2001 ac-               Direct donations to the gover-      bound to come in contact with
count of the Democratic Nation-         nor and other politicians is but       Democratic contributors.
al Committee. Five days later, the      one layer of Kushner’s financial          “Cabinet officers don’t live in a
DNC sent $546,000 to the New            dealings with government offi-         vacuum,” said Aronsohn. “Just
Jersey Democratic State Com-            cials.                                 because they had business deal-
mittee’s 2001 election fund, an            Kushner was also the major          ings with someone in the past
account that helped finance the         underwriter of a political action      does not mean they cannot serve
campaigns of McGreevey and              committee for McGreevey that           in an ethical way. Charles Kush-
legislative candidates running          employed several top Wood-             ner is not getting any special
with him.                               bridge officials who went on to        treatment.”
    Kushner has also opened his         key posts in the governor’s ad-
checkbook to the region’s most          ministration. The federally regis-     A moment in history
powerful lawmakers in Washing-          tered Committee for Working                If the Senate approves Kush-
ton. His network was the largest        Families accepted $140,000 from        ner’s Port Authority nomination,
contributor to U.S. Sens. Hillary       Kushner and his business part-         he will join a powerful organiza-
Rodham Clinton, in 2000 and             ners, an amount that covered           tion with a 40-year history of tak-
2001, and Robert G. Torricelli, in      more than one-third of the com-        ing on big projects that have ben-
1999 and 2001. It was the biggest       mittee’s expenses before it went       efited the public and, sometimes,
contributor to Lautenberg in            out of business last year. The         a few well-connected boosters.
2000, before he decided not to          committee allowed McGreevey                No project better showcases
seek reelection. It even managed        to remain active in state politics     the bi-state agency’s boldness
to become the second-largest            by spreading donations around          than its decision more than 30
contributor to New Jersey’s jun-        the state to county committees,        years ago to finance the con-
ior senator, Jon Corzine, the for-      legislators, and local candidates.     struction of the World Trade
mer Goldman Sachs chairman                 Among the PAC’s paid em-            Center.
who spent $60 million of his own        ployees were Lucille Davy, now             The Twin Towers — the Port
money on the election.                  the governor’s special education       Authority’s signature image —
    Kushner’s generosity allows         adviser and the wife of James M.       were the vision of David Rocke-
him to rub elbows with political        Davy, another close McGreevey          feller, then-chairman of Chase
luminaries. President Clinton           adviser; Paul Levinsohn, finance       Manhattan Bank, and his broth-
campaigned for McGreevey in             chairman for McGreevey’s 2001          er, Nelson, the governor of New
1997 at Kushner’s Morris Coun-          campaign and now the gover-            York and a former executive at
ty headquarters. In June 1999,          nor’s chief counsel; and Gary          Chase.
Vice President Al Gore ad-              Taffet, McGreevey’s 2001 cam-              The Rockefeller family held
dressed 600 students, teachers,         paign manager and now his chief        vast real estate interests in lower
and parents at Kushner’s school         of staff.                              Manhattan. The brothers used
in Livingston. In September                Others in the McGreevey ad-         their combined financial and po-
2000, vice presidential nominee         ministration with connections to       litical power to push through the
and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman          Kushner:                               project.
spoke at a $1,000-a-head fund-             ä Former Cherry Hill Mayor              The Rockefellers stacked the
raiser at Kushner’s headquarters.       Susan Bass Levin received cam-         Port Authority board with loyal-
    Kushner’s level of political giv-   paign donations from Kushner           ists and used the powerful agency
ing rivals that of such huge con-       and his partners, then $20,000         to condemn the 16 square blocks
cerns as Enron, which gave $3.8         for her unsuccessful congression-      and finance construction of the
million to hundreds of federal          al bid in 2000. She is now com-        towers and an interconnecting
candidates and political party          missioner of the Department of         transportation network.                 complain that the Garden State          broker to help shape the region’s        Fox said.
funds in the same period.               Community Affairs, which over-             The redevelopment of lower          has failed to get its fair share from   future.                                     Still, precisely what those in-
    Advocates of good govern-           sees all housing and development       Manhattan into the world’s fi-          the Port Authority partnership.            State Transportation Commis-          terests are — and will be in the fu-
ment say the sheer volume of po-        issues. Bass Levin and Kushner         nancial center rejuvenated New             Now, with the destruction of         sioner Jamie Fox told lawmakers          ture — may largely be determined
litical contributions from Kushn-       serve on the U.S. Holocaust            York City, along with the Rock-         the trade center, the Port Au-          earlier this year that New Jersey        by Kushner himself, suggested
er’s family and companies makes         Memorial Council, both appoint-        efellers’ real estate holdings.         thority and those who control it        needed a “force of personality”          former Port Authority member
a mockery of laws intended to           ed by former President Bill Clin-          New Jersey politicians, histori-    are once again at a critical junc-      like Kushner on the Port Author-         Gluck.
curb the influence of individuals       ton.                                   ans note, were initially opposed        ture, with a responsibility to mold     ity to get the state’s fair share of        “Every day, he will be out
and powerful corporate interests.          ä Former Union County Man-          to the World Trade Center, but          the metropolitan region’s finan-        the billions of dollars in public        there as chairman, shaking
Leadership of an agency as vital        ager Michael Lapolla accepted          found themselves virtually pow-         cial, rail, and real estate land-       money that flow through the              hands, making deals, all as the
as the Port Authority, they say,        $10,000 from Kushner and his           erless against the potent, sophis-      scape for decades to come.              agency.                                  representative of New Jersey,”
should not simply be awarded to         companies during his failed con-       ticated sway of the Rockefellers.          This time, New Jersey’s gover-          “I believe he is a leader who         she said. “If that isn’t power,
the highest bidder.                     gressional campaign in 2000. He        To this day, New Jersey officials       nor has employed his own power          represents our interests well,”          what is?”
10 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                               JANUARY 2005


                                                                                           Published Sunday, Nov. 24, 2004




Governor woos substantial donors
By JEFF PILLETS                                                                                                                                                                                             Contribution reports filed by
TRENTON BUREAU
                                         Intimate access available - for a price, lobbyists say                                                                                                          the Democratic State Committee
                                                                                                                                                                                                         show that both principals of the
    Intimate access available — for                                                                                                                                                                      law firm and six other partners
a price, lobbyists say Governor          has attended “three or four” small      in a small room at the Nassau Inn       builder than any of his immediate        nors raise money for their party.      gave $2,500 apiece. A number of
McGreevey has become the star            events in recent weeks.                 in Princeton. Several lobbyists         predecessors. They say the gover-        But this is no Governor’s Club         calls placed to the law firm and
attraction in a series of intimate,         Kevin Davitt, the governor’s         who were in attendance said the         nor and his state committee are          ball. This is a shakedown and the      several partners were not re-
invitation-only fund-raisers cater-      press secretary, said McGreevey         governor stayed for more than 90        quietly but aggressively canvassing      message is clear: Pony up, or else.”   turned.
ing to select lobbyists and their        attended the affairs “because he        minutes and had private chats           lobbyists and law firms for dollars         There is nothing illegal about a       “At one point, the governor dis-
clients — a unique role for a sitting    was invited, just like a wedding.’’     with everyone in the room.              in a systematic way.                     sitting governor or any other          appeared and I was told that he
governor.                                McGreevey, he said, is dedicated           One lobbyist who paid more              At the same time, they say, the       politician appearing at a political    was having closed-door meetings
   Six of Trenton’s most influen-        to building the Democratic Party,       than $2,500 to attend the meeting       McGreevey administration is              fund-raising event. State election     with certain contributors,” said
tial lobbyists, speaking last week       but not at the cost of selling influ-   said he told McGreevey about a          pressuring the state’s marquee           officials point out that the gover-    another lobbyist who was at the
in separate interviews with The          ence to special interests.              number of specific problems his         lobbying firms, typically headed         nor can raise as much cash as he       Newark Club. “I guess I didn’t
Record, said their firms had re-            “Money does not buy influence        clients were facing.                    by partners from both major par-         wants for a political party, as long   give enough for a private session.”
cently been approached by the            with this governor,” Davitt said.          “He didn’t make any promises,        ties, to end all but token contribu-     as he does not use taxpayer mon-          Officials of several government
Democratic State Committee and           “Attending a fund-raiser does not       but I got the feeling he was sym-       tions to the Republicans.                ey in the process.                     watchdog groups condemned the
told the governor was available to       mean you’re for sale.”                  pathetic,” said the lobbyist, whose        Two lobbyists say that John              “There really are no limits,” said  fund-raising program and said
attend small gatherings of lobby-           Davitt said it was “highly           firm represents commercial and          Lynch, the former Democratic             Fred Herrmann, executive director      they were particularly troubled by
ists and their clients if they agreed    doubtful” that the state committee      industrial interests throughout         state legislator and influential Mc-     of the state Election Law Enforce-     the state committee’s apparent of-
to contribute money.                     was explicitly offering access to       New Jersey.                             Greevey backer, called several           ment Commission. “About the            fer of access to the governor in ex-
   “The price was $25,000,” said         McGreevey in exchange for mon-             It is not unusual for sitting gov-   firms to pressure them into giving       only restriction is that he cannot     change for a specific dollar
one longtime Democratic lobbyist         ey. “These lobbyists who are com-       ernors on both sides of the politi-     more to the Democrats. Lynch’s           conduct a fund-raiser on state         amount.
who received a call from the state       plaining are the ones in the influ-     cal aisle to lend their names to        office did not return phone calls        property or use a state phone to          “It’s almost an advertisement
committee in early October. “I           ence-peddling business, not us,”        fund-raisers that benefit the state     Friday.                                  solicit money.”                        for a quid pro quo,” said Bill Alli-
was floored. They were asking for        he said.                                party. Former Republican Gov.              “I was told in no uncertain              Lee Moore, a spokesman for          son, a spokesman for The Center
a command performance. The                  Rich McGrath, a spokesman            Thomas H. Kean created a special        terms that splitting my contribu-        the state Department of Law and        for Public Integrity, a non-parti-
governor was involved. It’s awful        for the Democratic State Com-           “Governor’s Club” for top con-          tions 50-50 between the parties          Public Safety, said Friday that he     san group in Washington, D.C.
hard to say ‘no’ to something like       mittee, declined to talk about          tributors who attended quarterly        was no longer good enough,” said         would have to consult the gover-       “They’re literally telling lobbyists,
that.”                                   specifics of the committee’s fund-      dinners with him.                       one Democratic lobbyist whose            nor’s office before answering          ‘Hey, here’s your chance to influ-
   All six of the lobbyists said calls   raising program. He said all con-          Fellow Republican Christie           firm represents dozens of clients.       questions about the state fund-        ence public policy for $25,000.’”
came from Stephanie Babek, the           tributions to the party have been       Whitman carried on the tradition,       “The new rule is more like 80-20,        raising laws. Moore did not re-        Larry Makinson, a senior fellow at
Democratic State Committee’s fi-         reported to the state Election Law      attending an annual dinner for          or even 90-10. I’m a loyal Demo-         spond to subsequent calls.             the nonpartisan Center for Re-
nance chairwoman. Babek, they            Enforcement Commission.                 100 to 120 high contributors who        crat, the biggest partisan you’ve           Several lobbyists who spoke to      sponsive Politics, said Mc-
said, told them she was attempt-            “We have nothing to hide,” Mc-       also went on an annual trip to          ever seen. But I’ve never been so        The Record said it was clear that      Greevey’s invitation-only fund-
ing to arrange intimate gatherings       Grath said. “This governor won’t        Washington, D.C., to meet with          angry.”                                  the governor would not attend if a     raisers remind him of the Clinton
at which contributors would be           take a cup of coffee for free.”         members of the state’s congres-            The strategy appears to be pay-       contribution minimum of $25,000        administration’s infamous coffees,
assured of having one-on-one                McGrath said that while the          sional delegation.                      ing off. The Democratic State            were not promised. Lobbyists           in which the White House mar-
time with the governor. Babek did        governor finds fund raising “dis-          Robin Visconi, who was Re-           Committee has raised $8.2 million        were encouraged to round up a          keted time with the president in
not return calls or e-mails last         tasteful,” he feels a strong duty to    publican Party finance chair-           since the beginning of the year,         small number of their clients,         exchange for contributions.
week.                                    “uphold Democratic policies and         woman during the Whitman ad-            compared to the $3 million raised        whose contributions would meet            “People in New Jersey have got
   “When my clients heard they           principles.”                            ministration, said the Governor’s       by their Republican counterparts,        the goal. For example, a lobbyist      to be asking themselves who is re-
would be one of only about a                “Jim McGreevey resurrected           Club was open to people who             state election records show.             could invite 10 people at $2,500       ally making the laws,” Makinson
dozen or so people sitting down          this party on his shoulders.” Mc-       contributed $25,000 in a calendar          All the lobbyists who spoke to        each, or five at $5,000 each.          said. “The only reason lobbyists
with the governor, checkbooks            Grath said. “He’s got the political     year. She said the state committee      The Record did so on condition              One Democrat who attended           exist is to influence policy. By
started opening,” said another De-       responsibility to keep it strong.”      never offered private meetings          that their names not be used.            an Oct. 11 fund-raiser with about      promising access at a specific dol-
mocratic lobbyist who attended a            But lobbyists who attended the       with Whitman at fund-raisers.              “I can’t be identified in any         25 contributors at the Newark          lar price, the party is sending the
recent fund-raiser in Newark.            fund-raisers said McGreevey’s              “She went once a year to a din-      way, any way at all, or I’m dead         Club said all his clients at the din-  unmistakable message that gov-
   Officials for McGreevey and           participation in such intimate set-     ner that was highly publicized.         meat,” said one Republican who           ner were given private sitdowns        ernment in New Jersey is for sale.
the Democratic State Committee           tings went far beyond the tradi-        Everyone knew about it. The pa-         is a partner at a prominent Tren-        with McGreevey.                        That is a terrible message to
said they would not release a list       tional party-building role of a sit-    pers covered it,” Visconi said.         ton firm. “My clients will be shut          The event was organized by          send.”
of fund-raisers the governor has         ting governor.                             The lobbyists, veterans of both      down in a second. Access, con-           McManimon & Scotland, a
attended, although his spokesman            On Oct. 25, McGreevey met            parties, say McGreevey is proving       tracts, boom, just gone.” Said an-       prominent bond counsel firm in Jeff Pillets’ e-mail address is pil-
acknowledged that McGreevey              with about a dozen contributors         to be a far more formidable party       other lobbyist: “Look, all gover-        Newark.                               lets@northjersey.com


                                                                                          Published Thursday, Feb. 27, 2004



McGreevey’s rich patron quits PA seat
                                                                                 1997, were appropriate’’ given the
Kushner legal woes grow                                                          ban on contributions from bank
                                                                                 owners.
                                                                                                                           Kushner timeline
                                                                                                                           1985: Kushner becomes chair-           contribution limits.                                     owned by Gary
By JEFF PILLETS                       lems threatened to erode further               Documents released Wednes-            man of Kushner Cos., a land de-        February 2002: A month after                             Taffet, a close
TRENTON BUREAU                        McGreevey’s sagging standing               day by the state Department of            velopment firm in Florham Park         his inauguration as governor,                            friend and for-
                                      with voters, as reflected in recent        Banking and Insurance reveal              founded by his father.                 McGreevey nominates Kushner                              mer chief of
    Charles Kushner, the Democ- polls.                                           that Kushner became the “incor-           June 1996: Kushner acquires            to become a member of the Port                           staff to Gover-
ratic sugar daddy who staked            “The voters are clearly skepti-          porator, director, and majority           Livingston-based NorCrown              Authority of New York and New                            nor McGreevey.
Governor McGreevey’s political cal about this governor,’’ one De-                shareholder’’ of NorCrown bank            Bank after it is shuttered by fed-     Jersey. The governor makes no                            A spokesman
ambitions to the tune of $1.5 mil- mocrat close to the administra-               on March 26, 1996. He continued           eral banking regulators for hav-       secret that Kushner is his choice                        said the pur-
lion, resigned from the Port Au- tion said. “Kushner is just another             in that role until Jan. 1, 1998, the                                                                                    TAFFET            chase was an
                                                                                                                           ing too few assets. The bank ex-       to become chairman of the
thority on Wednesday amid con- big headache Jim doesn’t need.’’                  documents show, when owner-               panded from a single branch to         agency at a later date.                "appropriate, private transac-
cerns that his growing legal prob- Kushner leaves the public stage as            ship of the bank was transferred          a $500 million bank with 13                                                   tion."
                                                                                                                                                                  Early 2002: Kushner is sued by
lems would sink the gov-                      federal investigators look         to a trust Kushner created for tax        branches since Kushner took                                                   February 2003: U.S. Attorney's
                                                                                                                                                                  his brother, Murray, and another
ernor to new depths of                        into allegations that the          and estate-planning purposes.             control.                                                                      Office issues subpoenas seek-
                                                                                                                                                                  business partner. Both allege
public skepticism.                            49-year-old Livingston                 State elections records show                                                                                        ing documents from Murray
                                                                                                                           February 1997: Kushner begins          that Kushner kept part of the
   Kushner walked away,                       resident, who aspires to           that the Democratic State Com-                                                                                          Kushner's lawsuit. Federal in-
                                                                                                                           his ascent as a leading cam-           partners' profits, ignored key
calling the allegations                       be one of the nation’s             mittee accepted $140,000 from                                                                                           vestigators begin interviewing
                                                                                                                                             paign contribu-      partnership agreements, and
against him “senseless,”                      biggest landlords, bilked          Kushner and his real estate com-                                                                                        former Kushner Cos. employ-
                                                                                                                                             tor to James E.      failed to give his partners basic
and said he was just a                        millions from his business         panies during the time when                                                                                             ees.
                                                                                                                                             McGreevey,           accounting information about
public servant seeking to                     partners and made illegal          Kushner was listed as the majori-
                                                                                                                                             who makes his        company real estate invest-                               Feb. 25: Re-
make a difference in peo- KUSHNER             campaign contributions             ty shareholder of NorCrown
                                                                                                                                             first run for gov-   ments.                                                    publican law-
ple’s lives.                                  to McGreevey and others.           Bank.
                                                                                                                                             ernor that year.     June 2002: The Senate ap-                                 makers, led by
   “My motive ... to serve on the       The allegations stem from law-               On Oct. 8, 1997, the committee
                                                                                                                                             Over the next        proves Kushner's nomination to                            Sen. William
Port Authority was merely to per- suits filed by Kushner’s brother               accepted $130,000 in checks from
                                                                                                                                             five years,          the Port Authority board.                                 Gormley of At-
form public service with absolute- and a former Kushner Cos. book-               11 companies owned and con-               McGREEVEY Kushner, his                                                                           lantic County,
ly nothing in return except the op- keeper, who claims that the de-              trolled by Kushner. Also on that                                                 November 2002: Kushner's for-
                                                                                                                           family, and his companies con-                                                                   demand probe
portunity to make a positive im- veloper diverted $3 million from                date, Kushner himself wrote a                                                    mer bookkeeper, Robert Yontef,
                                                                                                                           tribute $1.5 million to Mc-                                                                      of Kushner's
pact on people’s lives,’’ Kushner his tenants’ security deposits to fi-          $10,000 check to the state com-                                                  sues Kushner in Superior Court          GORMLEY
                                                                                                                           Greevey accounts.                                                                                campaign con-
said in a prepared statement.         nance his favorite politicians.            mittee.                                                                          in Newark, alleging he diverted
                                                                                                                           1999: Former Mayor Rudolph                                                    tributions, claiming that he may
   “Our system unfortunately dis-       Republican lawmakers in Tren-                Title 19 of the New Jersey legal                                             funds to finance his favored
                                                                                                                                              Giuliani's U.S.                                            have violated a ban on principal
courages qualified business peo- ton also believe that Kushner’s                 code, a provision that goes back                                                 politicians and to enrich himself.
                                                                                                                                              Senate cam-                                                bank owners from making con-
ple who can make a difference controlling interest in a Liv-                     to 1911, states that a majority                                                  Kushner denies the allegations
                                                                                                                                              paign is forced                                            tributions to state campaigns.
from doing public service,’’ he ingston bank disqualify millions in              owner of a bank cannot make po-                                                  and his spokesman describes
                                                                                                                                              to return                                                  Kushner officials say most of the
added. “That is truly a shame.’’ donations he made to New Jersey                 litical contributions.                                                           Yontef as a "disgruntled, un-
                                                                                                                                              $57,000 in cam-                                            bank is owned by a trust, not by
McGreevey named North Cald- politicians, who are barred from                         A spokesman for McGreevey                                                    faithful, former employee."
                                                                                                                                              paign contribu-                                            Kushner.
well resident Anthony R. Coscia taking bank cash.                                said it was too early to say if the                                              January 2003: Yontef files a
to replace Kushner on the Port          An inquiry by the U.S. Attor-            governor would order the state                               tions from          federal lawsuit, accusing Kush-        Feb. 26: Kushner resigns from
Authority of New York and New ney’s Office into the lawsuits’ al-                committee to return the contribu-                            Kushner and his     ner of funneling $2 million from       the Port Authority. McGreevey
                                                                                                                            GIULIANI          family mem-                                                nominates ally Anthony Coscia
Jersey’s 12-member board of com- legations gathered momentum                     tions.                                                                           his business partners to buy a
missioners. Coscia, the widely re- this week as federal agents pre-                  “There’s a determination being        bers, because they exceeded            fledgling insurance company            to replace him.
spected chairman of the New Jer- pared to question several individ-              made on the legality of those con-
sey Economic Development Au- uals with knowledge of Kushner                      tributions — we’ll have to wait
thority and an economic adviser Cos. operations.                                 and see,’’ McGreevey press secre-       Greevey’s chief counsel, did not         damage us if it got out.’’ Howard      ers, not beneficiaries of bank
to McGreevey, is expected to be-        The government has already is-           tary Micah Rasmussen said.              return calls Wednesday.                  Rubenstein, a spokesman for            trusts,’’ Cummis said. “So all those
come chairman of the bi-state sued subpoenas for evidence                            This is not the first time Mc-         Rasmussen said the brief inves-       Kushner, referred all questions        contributions he made were free
agency in April.                      gathered in a sealed lawsuit               Greevey has sought legal advice         tigation gave the campaign a             about campaign contributions to        and clear. If he was the majority
   In a brief statement, Mc- brought against Kushner last year                   on questionable contributions           green light to accept further do-        Kushner attorney Clive Cummis.         owner of the bank, that would be
Greevey called Kushner’s resigna- in state Superior Court in Jersey              from Kushner. Rasmussen said            nations from Kushner and his             Cummis, who has served as Kush-        an entirely different story.’’ Mean-
tion “regrettable’’ and said the de- City.                                       that in the summer of 2001, a           companies.                               ner’s adviser on contributions         while, the nomination of Coscia,
veloper was “among the most ex-         State Attorney General Peter             team of attorneys working for Mc-          But campaign records show             since 2001, did not return phone       a longtime McGreevey ally
ceptional individuals I have ever C. Harvey will also look into                  Greevey’s campaign “flagged’’ do-       that all contributions from Kush-        calls Wednesday.                       known for his administrative
had the honor of knowing and Kushner’s contributions. On                         nations from Kushner after learn-       ner to McGreevey’s campaign                 In an interview this week,          skills, was widely hailed.
calling friend.’’ “His integrity, de- Wednesday, McGreevey chief of              ing of his connection to the bank.      stopped in early August. And a           Cummis said he advised Kushner            “Tony knows numbers, and he
cency, and commitment to the staff James P. Fox asked Harvey                         Rasmussen said that a cam-          source familiar with the internal        that all contributions he made as      knows New Jersey,” said George
highest ethical standards are be- to issue an opinion on Kushner’s               paign attorney questioned Kush-         probe of Kushner’s contributions         NorCrown’s controlling trustee         Zoffinger, executive director of
yond reproach,’’ McGreevey said. joint status as a major campaign                ner and his lawyer and decided          said campaign officials ordered a        were legal because he is not tech-     the New Jersey Sports and Expo-
   But administration sources said contributor and controlling                   that the contributions were legal.      stop to the acceptance of all            nically the owner of the bank. It is   sition Authority and a longtime
the governor and his closest ad- trustee of NorCrown Bank.                       He said he could not identify the       Kushner contributions at the             not clear, however, if Cummis re-      friend of Coscia’s. “He’s very me-
visers were relieved that Kushner       In a letter to Harvey, Fox asked         campaign attorney who did the           time.                                    viewed the $140,000 in contribu-       thodical, and he’s one of the
left and acknowledged that Mc- the attorney general to determine                 review. However, at the time,              “The campaign wanted to pro-          tions Kushner made during the          smartest guys I know.”
Greevey did not hesitate to accept “whether political contributions              Paul Josephson was listed as the        tect itself,’’ the source said. “There   19-month period when he was
his resignation. The sources said made by Charles Kushner from                   campaign’s legal counsel.               was a feeling that this was, poten-      the bank owner.                        Staff Writer Clint Riley contributed
Kushner’s mounting legal prob- March 4, 1996, through Dec. 31,                       Josephson, who is now Mc-           tially, something that could really         “The law refers to bank own-        to this article.
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                            THE RECORD 11




                                               F R I E N D        O F      T H E      P E O P L E         I T    S E R V E S
                                                                     www.northjersey.com




                                                               Published Wednesday, May 21, 2003



                                      “Jersey is a businessman’s State; business men and their lawyers have ruled
                               it always, and the laws they have made permit a business man to hold office and engage
                                            in private business, almost any office and almost any business.”
                                                                   LINCOLN STEFFENS, MCCLURE’S MAGAZINE, 1905




                                       Banking on
                                       your money
               Fast-growing Commerce counts on political ties
        By CLINT RILEY                                                                                                    Critics of the bank’s practices say Commerce has
        STAFF WRITER                                                                                                   shrewdly exploited regulations that allow banks to
            With help from taxpayers and government                                                                    peddle insurance and buy and sell securities for
        deregulation, Commerce Bancorp has expanded                                                                    any client — including government — and has tak-
        into one of the nation’s fastest-growing suppliers                                                             en advantage of fragmented oversight of financial
        of financial services — and New Jersey’s most                                                                  institutions and public officials in New Jersey.
        impressive political benefactor since the                                                                         CEO Vernon W. Hill II and his associates insist
        Pennsylvania Railroad controlled politicians and                                                               they are breaking no laws, that their courtship of
        public policy a century ago.                                                                                   politicians is inevitable in the natural course of
          Few of the thousands of new customers flock-                                                                 community-oriented business. They boast that
        ing to Commerce’s big red C realize that this                                                                  Commerce’s remarkable growth is the result of in-
        $17.7 billion-a-year financial powerhouse is run                                                               novative banking practices, attention to customer
        by a corporate syndicate whose members wield                                                                   service, and investment in local communities.
        an astonishing breadth of influence over New                                                                      In an interview with The Record, Hill defended
        Jersey’s elected officials, the public policy they                                                             the bank’s political activities as vital to communi-
        make, and the taxpayer dollars they spend.                                                                     ty involvement.
          No other bank, bond underwriter, or insurance                                                                   “We care about public issues. We are a giant em-
        broker operating in New Jersey has doled out                                                                   ployer in this state,’’ he said. “We feel it is our ob-
        more campaign cash, received more no-bid gov-                                                                  ligation to be involved in the political process’’ in
        ernment contracts, or employed more of the                                                                     towns where Commerce has branches.
        state’s politically                                                                                               But three weeks ago, amid questions about
                                                             connected figures in the last five years.                 Commerce business practices raised by investors
                                                                At least five county political bosses, a former act-   and reporters, the bank curbed that political in-
                                                             ing governor, two former state Senate presidents,         volvement. On April 29, Hill told investors that
                                                             and dozens of state and local public officials have       Commerce would suspend political donations in
                                                             received both personal income and campaign con-           New Jersey until legislators decide whether to stiff-
                                                             tributions from Commerce Bancorp.                         en regulations on contributions from government
                                                                                                                       contractors like the bank.
                                                                                                                          The announcement came as federal regulators
                                                                                                                       scrutinize the bank, and as watchdog groups and
                                                                                                                                                See COMMERCE’S Page 12

                                                                                                           Vernon W. Hill II (center, red tie) built Commerce Bancorp
                                                                                                           with the help of New Jersey business and political leaders
                                                                                                           such as former acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco (to Hill's
                                                                                                           left), George E. Norcross III (to Hill's right), and Joseph E.
                                                                                                           Buckelew (behind Norcross, red tie), all among the bank's
                                                                                                           13-member board of directors.
12 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                                JANUARY 2005


                                                                                          Published Wednesday, May 21, 2003




At a glance
Commerce Bancorp
Founded: 1973
Headquarters: Cherry Hill
Stock symbol: CBH
President and CEO: Vernon
W. Hill II
Employees: 6,875
Branches: 225
Total assets: $17.7 billion
Total liabilities: $16.6 billion
Total deposits: $14.7 billion
Subsidiaries: Commerce
Bank, National Association;
Commerce Bank/Shore;
Commerce Bank/North;
Commerce Bank/Delaware;
Commerce Bank/Pennsylva-
nia; Commerce Bank/Harris-
burg; Commerce Bank Leas-
ing LLC; Commerce Capital
Investments Inc.; Commerce
Capital Markets Inc.; Com-
merce Insurance Services
                                                                                                                                                                                                            CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
                                          Going for the juggler: Jay Koo entertaining at the March opening of a Commerce branch at Warren and State streets in Trenton, two blocks from the steps of the State House.




           Commerce’s political ties
From Page 11                              streets or schools, or seeks insur-      theirs.’’ Whoever makes the call,      down a competing branch. Their          this as a New Jersey success story,’’    ed that businessmen and their
banking rivals claim that Com-            ance for its workers, it must find a     taxpayers typically end up paying      concerns were such that none            he declared.                             lawyers had turned New Jersey
merce’s success is due at least in        provider and draw up a contract.         higher fees in no-bid deals, espe-     would be identified by name, fear-         But to some veteran political         into “a great commercial concern.’’
part to its generosity toward well-          In a competitive banking mar-         cially when the contracts go to        ing Hill would turn his political       observers, Commerce Bancorp’s            His McClure’s magazine exposé,
placed politicians and an impres-         ket such as New Jersey’s, many fi-       suppliers that make political con-     and financial might against them.       swelling influence is worthy of          “New Jersey: A Traitor State,” sin-
sive array of interlocking relation-      nancial experts say formal bidding       tributions, says Robert B. Lamb, a        “In polite society,’’ says one       public attention.                        gled out the Pennsylvania Railroad
ships with government insiders.           can help lower costs. New Jersey         professor at New York Universi-        banker in South Jersey, “we com-           “This is remarkable even for          Corp. for using financial and polit-
    Their concerns are supported by       jurisdictions, however, show little      ty’s Stern School of Business.         pete with our fellow bankers, and       New Jersey,’’ says Larry Sabato,         ical might to make lapdogs of leg-
the results of an eight-month in-         consistency in how they award               “The cost is added into the pric-   if we lose, we accept the share of      the nationally known director of         islators and local politicians who
vestigation by The Record, which          contracts. Some local officials who      ing,” says Lamb, author of such fi-    the market that we are left with.       the Center for Politics at the Uni-      helped protect its rail monopoly.
found that the corporation’s ag-          opt for “no-bid’’ or negotiated con-     nance industry standards as “Mu-       Not ‘Genghis Khan’ Hill. He has         versity of Virginia. “It is about as        Perhaps not since those robber
gressive business practices and           tracts argue that taxpayers are bet-     nicipal Bonds” and “Handbook of        to have it all.”                        much raw power that can exist un-        baron days has one corporation
pursuit of political connections          ter served when trusted local pro-       Municipal Securities and Public           “There is no sense of fair play in   der the rule of law in 2003.”            managed to employ more political
give its leaders extraordinary influ-     fessionals arrange the deals. Oth-       Finance.”                              the way Vernon plays the game,’’           Sabato, author of “Dirty Little       chiefs, state and local public offi-
ence over billions of dollars in pub-     ers say certain deals are “profes-          “Your money buys you a seat at      echoes a North Jersey banker.           Secrets: The Resurgence of Cor-          cials, and politically connected
lic money.                                sional services’’ and thus are ex-       the table for a negotiated deal.       “He’s way out of the box. Vernon        ruption in American Politics,’’ says     lawyers for private business in
    Consider:                             empt from bidding under New Jer-         Whoever has the politicians either     thinks he can do whatever he            such a concentration of power            New Jersey than Commerce Ban-
    ä Commerce’s employee politi-         sey public contract law.                 gets the deals that would have         wants. They may not say it in the       should concern New Jersey’s citi-        corp.
cal action committee, Compac NJ,             It is amid this unevenness that       gone to other firms at a cheaper       open, but most bankers think Ver-       zens.                                       To hear Hill tell it, Commerce’s
distributed almost $1.65 million to       Commerce thrives, its interlocking       price, gets deals more often, or       non and Commerce are protect-              “It’s important that people have      business ambitions are not much
New Jersey candidates for state           political and financial relation-        they establish relationships for fu-   ed.”                                    faith that their government is rep-      different than the railroad’s.
and local office over the last five       ships giving the bank an over-           ture deals.”                              Hill dismissed such comments         resenting them and not just the             “We want 100 percent of every
years, much of it pumped into po-         whelming edge in negotiating gov-           The uneven playing field ran-       as “whining.’’ He also challenged       elite,” he says. “When private           deposit — in every town, every
litical funds in counties and towns       ernment work.                            kles rival bankers from Cape May       recent media emphasis on Com-           money and government power               county, every school district,’’ he
where Commerce then reaped                   Hill says Commerce is just do-        to Bergen County. They voice re-       merce’s political connections and       gets concentrated in the hands of a      says.
millions of dollars in banking,           ing what its many governmental           spect for Hill’s banking innova-       its share of government-related         few, we end up with government
bond, and insurance business.             customers want.                          tions but are uneasy with some of      business, arguing that such busi-       of, by, and for the powerful.”              Building a political
Some donations appeared to skirt             “It’s not our choice whether the      his more bruising methods, such as     ness is but a small fraction of the        That was the situation almost             banking machine
federal securities rules intended to      municipalities go competitive or         offering a $5,000 bonus to any         bank’s entire portfolio.                100 years ago when muckraking
block influence over municipal fi-        non-competitive,’’ he says. “It’s        manager responsible for shutting          “You should be writing about         journalist Lincoln Steffens report-         Commerce’s stunning growth —
nances.                                                                                                                                                                                                    two-thirds of its 225 branches in
    ä Commerce is unusually en-                                                                                                                                                                            New Jersey, New York, Pennsyl-
meshed in local finances. At the                                                                                                                                                                           vania, and Delaware did not exist
end of 2002, it held $1.8 billion in
New Jersey taxpayer money. That
sum is almost 20 percent of the
$9.5 billion in government de-
                                          Lobbyists                                                                                                                                                        six years ago — is a tribute to Ver-
                                                                                                                                                                                                           non W. Hill II.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              In 1973, the 27-year-old busi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                           ness graduate of The Wharton
posits held by private banks; the
$9.5 billion is separate from the
state’s $11 billion cash manage-
                                          adept at                                                                                                                                                         School at the University of Penn-
                                                                                                                                                                                                           sylvania opened a single office
                                                                                                                                                                                                           along a Burlington County high-
ment fund, which is held in a Mor-
gan Stanley Dean Witter trust.
Commerce is involved in govern-
ment insurance contracts in near-
                                          playing                                                                                                                                                          way and made himself a banker.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Today, Hill says he doesn’t con-
                                                                                                                                                                                                           sider himself a banker. He’s a re-
                                                                                                                                                                                                           tailer, he says, the same as Wal-
ly every municipality. And it has
become the dominant player in
buying and selling government
debt, last year underwriting one-
                                          the game                                                                                                                                                         Mart and Burger King. And like
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Sam Walton and Burger King, Hill
                                                                                                                                                                                                           — who co-owns at least 42 Burger
                                                                                                                                                                                                           King franchises — builds look-alike
third of all bonds issued in the             One of Commerce Bancorp's                                                                                                                                     bank branches at a breathless
state. The remaining bond busi-           best assets may be the team of past                                                                                                                              pace. In 1996, Commerce had no
ness was split among 44 other             and current political wheeler-deal-                                                                                                                              branches in the northern counties
banks and investment houses.              ers it employs to lobby on its be-                                                                                                                               of Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Essex,
    ä In New Jersey counties and          half.                                                                                                                                                            Union, Monmouth, Middlesex,
municipalities where party bosses            The bank's lobbying firm of                                                                                                                                   Somerset, Hunterdon, and Mer-
and local political leaders have fi-      choice is Princeton Public Affairs                                                                                                                               cer. Today, it has 78, with more on
nancial ties to the bank, Com-            Group of Trenton, whose co-                                                                                                                                      drawing boards.
merce obtains a sizable portion of        founder, Dale J. Florio, sits on the                                                                                                                                Commerce bills itself as “Amer-
government banking, underwrit-            Commerce/Central board of direc-                                                                                                                                 ica’s Most Convenient Bank.” It is
ing, and financial advisory work          tors and is chairman of the Somer-                                                                                                                               open seven days a week and offers
without formal competitive bid-           set County Republican Committee.                                                                                                           ASSOCIATED PRESS      such services as door-greeters and
ding.                                        As Commerce lobbyists, Florio         Commerce executive George E. Norcross III, center right, at the State House Annex with two well-con-                    coin-counting machines.
    Last year, two-thirds of all long-    and his partners have urged law-         nected members of Princeton Public Affairs Group, William Pascrell III, left, and John F. Russo Sr., right.                In the last five years, Commerce
term bonds underwritten primari-          makers and state bureaucrats to                                                                                                                                  has grown by more than 500 per-
ly by Commerce were not put out           consider numerous proposals that            For perspective, the Commerce       however, companies are not re-             Princeton      Public     Affairs     cent.
for bid, compared with less than          could benefit Commerce, includ-          payment was only slightly less         quired to publicly disclose the ac-     Group's roster also includes for-           Commerce had fewer than 800
half of those handled by its nearest      ing legislation requiring the state to   than what Princeton Public Affairs     tivities of others they employ to       mer state Senate President John F.       employees a decade ago. Now it
competitor, Wachovia Securities.          deposit millions of dollars in New       Group earned from each of two          contact public officials, who is pay-   Russo Sr., a Democratic fund-rais-       employs more than 6,800 people
Commerce was the primary un-              Jersey banks.                            big clients with contentious issues    ing them, or how much they were         er from Ocean County who lob-            in four states. In 2002 alone, Com-
derwriter in 64 negotiated bond              As Somerset County Republi-           in the state: tobacco giant Philip     paid.                                   bies for Commerce; Bradley Brew-         merce’s total assets grew from
deals (out of 94 deals), a total more     can chairman, Florio helps select        Morris and the New Jersey Coali-           One of the newest members of        ster, a former executive director of     $12.3 billion to $17.7 billion, mak-
than four times the 15 no-bid deals       political candidates for local of-       tion for Auto Insurance Competi-       Princeton Public Affairs Group is       the Assembly Republicans and a           ing it the 44th largest banking in-
underwritten by Wachovia (out of          fices and finances their campaigns.      tion.                                  former Assembly Speaker Jack            friend of former acting Gov. Don-        stitution in the nation.
33 deals). The Commerce no-bid            That gives the lobbyist, and Com-           Commerce executives say the         Collins, R-Salem, who signed on         ald T. DiFrancesco; and William             “This is the most successful, dif-
deals were worth $1.5 billion; Wa-        merce board member, inside               lobbying dollars help forward the      in January 2002, just days after re-    Pascrell III, Passaic County coun-       ferent bank model in America,”
chovia’s were worth $392 million.         knowledge when public officials          bank's interests in New Jersey, its    tiring from 16 years in the Legisla-    sel and son of Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.,   Hill says. “We’re retailers who
    New Jersey is fertile soil for sup-   seek bond underwriters, banking          home state. Yet in comparison,         ture.                                   D-Paterson.                              happen to sell bank products.”
pliers of bonds, bank accounts, in-       services, or insurance policies — all    FleetBoston Financial Corp. —              Collins is designated a "senior        In addition, Jamie Fox, Gover-           Commerce’s success has made
surance, financial advice, and oth-       services that Commerce provides.         Commerce's biggest banking             counsel" at the firm, and his inter-    nor McGreevey's chief of staff, was      Hill’s company a Wall Street dar-
er government services. Every time           Princeton Public Affairs Group        competitor in New Jersey - re-         action with government officials is     managing partner of the lobbying         ling. Over 10 years, Commerce
one of the 21 counties, 566 mu-           earned $6.1 million in 2002. Com-        ported no expenditures for polit-      not regulated.                          firm's Washington arm, Winning           stock rose more than 1,200 per-
nicipalities, 614 school districts, or    merce paid the company                   ical lobbying in New Jersey last           His duties include providing        Strategies, until joining the Mc-        cent, more than such corporate be-
dozens of quasi-governmental au-          $234,444.69 to lobby Trenton law-        year and spent $135,000 on lob-        consulting services to Commerce,        Greevey administration as trans-         hemoths as General Electric and
thorities such as the Bergen Coun-        makers and bureaucrats, a total 91       bying in its home state, Massa-        which contributed frequently to         portation commissioner early last        Microsoft, although the share price
ty Utilities Authority opens a bank       percent higher than what it paid in      chusetts.                              political funds Collins controlled      year.                                    has leveled off recently amid in-
account, borrows money for                2001.                                       Apart from registered lobbyists,    and/or benefited.                                              — Clint Riley      See COMMERCE BANK Page 13
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                            THE RECORD 13


                                                                                      Published Wednesday, May 21, 2003


The players
In the complicated game of state money, a look at how the banker, the politician, and the businessman are connected:
The Executives                                                                                              The Board Members




Vernon W.             George E.            Joseph E.             James R.             John “Jack”           Donald T.            Robert C.            William A.            John A.               Dale J.                Harvey A.
Hill II               Norcross III         Buckelew              Napolitano           Tarditi Jr.           DiFrancesco          Beck                 Schwartz Jr.          Lynch                 Florio                 Holzberg
        President             CEO,                 President,           President,            Vice chair-           Commer-              Commer-              Commer-               Central di-           Central di-            Central di-
        and CEO;              Com-                 Shore di-            North divi-           man,                  ce Ban-              ce Ban-              ce Ban-               vision di-            vision di-             vision di-
        stock                 merce In-            vision;              sion                  Com-                  corp di-             corp di-             corp di-              rector                rector                 rector
worth estimated       surance Services;    member of                    Co-found-     merce Insurance       rector; (wife, Di-   rector, board        rector; $3 million        Democratic                Co-                 Outgoing
$139 million          member of            board; $26 million           ed Inde-      Services              ane, is account      secretary; $15       est. stock                fund-raiser;              founder,            chairman,
Founder, Site De-     board; $40 million   est. stock                   pendence          Democratic        executive with       million est. stock           President,        adviser to                Princeton           University of
velopment Inc.        est. stock                   Real es-      Bank with Hill           fund-raiser       Commerce Insur-              Partner,             U.S. Vi-      McGreevey; co-        Public Affairs,        Medicine and
(commercial real              U.S. Vi-             tate devel-       Republican           Haddonfield       ance Services);              Parker,              sion; busi-   chairman, New         Commerce's lob-        Dentistry of New
estate); partner in           sion                 oper, with        fund-raiser          commission-       $329,000 est.                McCay &      ness partner with     Directions PAC        byist                  Jersey; president,
fast-food fran-               board        Zaro                                           er, former        stock                Criscuololegal       Norcross and              Trustee, Pros-        Chairman,          Robert Wood
                                                                     Vice chair-
chises                member; vice             Former chair-         man, Hack-       mayor; chairman,              Partner,     services to Com-     Roberts                   perity New            Somerset           Johnson Univer-
Fund-raiser, both     chairman, Coop-          man, Ocean            ensack Eco-      Camden County                 DiFran-      merce, advice to                               Jersey; for-          County Re-         sity Hospital
major parties         er Health System;        County Re-        nomic Develop-       Municipal Joint               cesco,       local govern-                              mer state Senate      publican Com-
Trustee, Prosper-     partner with         publican Finance      ment Commis-         Insurance Fund        Bateman, Coley,      ments on bond                              president; former     mittee; Republi-
ity New Jersey        Roberts and          Committee; Re-        sion                                       Yospin, Kunz-        deals                                      mayor, New            can fund-raiser
                      Schwartz             publican fund-                                                   man, Davis &                                                    Brunswick
                          Adviser to       raiser                                                           Lehrerlegal serv-
                          Governor Mc-         Commis-                                                      ices to Com-
                          Greevey; for-        sioner and                                                   merce                                                           Key
                      mer chairman,            former chair-                                                    Oversaw Re-
                      Camden County        man, N.J. Sports                                                     publican
                      Democrats            and Exposition                                                       Leadership
                          Trustee,         Authority; former                                                PACs
                          Prosperity       chairman, N.J.                                                       Former acting
                          New Jersey       Highway Authori-                                                     governor, for-
                                           ty                                                                   mer state              Commerce           Business ties /           Political             Public
                                                                                                            Senate president           connection          Commerce               involvement            positions
                                                                                                                                                            interests
The Board Members                                                The Associates




John P.               Jerold L.          James J.                Joseph J.            Wayne                 Jack                 John F.              Philip                Jeffrey T.            Melvin “Randy”         John
Ferguson              Zaro               Mancini                 Roberts Jr.          Bryant                Collins              Russo Sr.            Norcross              Michaels              Primas                 Currie
        North divi-          Shore di-           Shore di-               Stock               Partner,              Consul                Lobbyist             Campaign              Consul                Former                 Former
        sion direc-          vision di-          vision di-              holder              Zeller &              tant                  Princeton            finance               tant                  managing               communi-
        tor                  rector              rector                  Principal           Bryant,               Senior                Public Af-           lawyer                Board                 director,              ty out-
Member, Hack-                Real es-       Ocean Coun-                  partner,     which represents             counsel,              fairs                Managing           member,          Commerce Capi-         reach coordinator
ensack Economic              tate devel-    ty freeholder;               U.S. Vi-     Commerce in                  Princeton             Group                partner,           N.J. Casino      tal Markets                Chairman,
Development                  oper, with     mayor, Long          sion; business       bond deals            Public Affairs           Runs Friends             Parker,       Reinvestment               State-ap-             Passaic
Commission;           Buckelew; part-    Beach                   partners with           State senator      Group                    of John Rus-     McCay &               Development                pointed over-         County De-
president, CEO of     ner, Ansell, Zaro,                         Norcross and            (Democrat,            Republican            so PAC           Criscuolo; U.S.       Authority; former          seer of Cam-      mocrats; deputy
Hackensack Uni-       Grimm & Aaron,                             Schwartz                Camden                fund-raiser           Former state     Vision board          chief of staff to     den; former may-       vice chairman,
versity Medical       which represents                               Former chair-    County); co-             Former As-            Senate presi-    member                acting Gov.           or, Camden; for-       Democratic State
Center; UMDNJ         Commerce                                       man, Democ-      chairman, Senate         sembly                dent, Democ-         Democratic        DiFrancesco           mer commission-        Committee
board member              Democratic                                 ratic State      Appropriations           speaker           rat                      fund-raiser                             er, Department of          Member,
                          fund-raiser                            Committee; over-     Committee                                                           Legal counsel                           Community Af-              Passaic
                          Chairman,                              sees PACs                                                                                to numerous                             fairs                      County Board
                          N.J. Highway                               Assembly                                                                             municipal                                                      of Elections
                          Authority                                  majority                                                                         governments
                                                                     leader




Commerce Bank                          the building’s tenants was Key-
                                       stone National Insurance, owned
                                                                              and Buckelew, 74, sit on Com-
                                                                              merce Bancorp’s main 13-member
                                                                                                                      to almost $654,000 last year from
                                                                                                                      $72,000 in 1996.
                                                                                                                                                             about $25,000.
                                                                                                                                                                All but $20,000 of Compac NJ’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                     is a business partner with two
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Commerce board members,
From Page 12                           by George E. Norcross III, then        board of directors and are two of           Compac NJ’s donations, how-        2002 donations were at the coun-        George Norcross and William A.
vestor concerns about bank ex-         chairman of the Camden County          the company’s largest stockhold-        ever, are only a fraction of the       ty and municipal levels, vital to the   Schwartz Jr.
penses, large insider loans, and       Democratic Committee, one of the       ers. Norcross is also chief execu-      campaign dollars connected to          rapidly expanding Commerce be-             In March 2002, Commerce pro-
questionable political donations.      state’s biggest sources of cash for    tive officer of Commerce Insur-         Commerce. Since 1997, bank ex-         cause that’s where it obtains zon-      vided a $32.5 million line of cred-
   Only a few months ago, it           Democrats. Another building ten-       ance Services, and a top adviser to     ecutives, board members, lobby-        ing variances to build new branch-      it to an investment group con-
seemed Commerce could do no            ant was the law firm Parker, Mc-       McGreevey and other prominent           ists, and consultants on Com-          es and the bulk of its billions in      trolled by Roberts, Schwartz,
wrong. In November, its stock was      Cay & Criscuolo, whose managing        state Democrats. Buckelew, a ma-        merce’s payroll have conservative-     government deposits, insurance,         George Norcross, and Philip Nor-
trading $8 higher than the current     director is Norcross’ brother          jor Republican fund-raiser, is pres-    ly helped raise an additional $10      and bonds.                              cross, the bank’s campaign finance
share price, and bank executives       Philip, one of the state’s top gov-    ident of the bank’s Shore division.     million for New Jersey politicians        Indeed, Commerce’s expansion         lawyer. That enabled the partners
were often found shoulder to           ernment bond lawyers.                     Philip Norcross, meanwhile, is       through dozens of political funds.     has run on a parallel track to the      to buy U.S. Vision, the nation’s
shoulder with the state’s promi-          A turning point for Hill’s ambi-    Commerce Bancorp’s campaign fi-             An example is First Jersey PAC,    bank’s political donations. Since       sixth-largest retailer of eyeglasses
nent political figures.                tions came in 1996, after lawmak-      nance lawyer, and Robert C. Beck,       headed by George Norcross. In          1997, Commerce’s total assets           and contact lenses, where
   At the New Jersey State League      ers and the U.S. Supreme Court al-     his partner at Parker, McCay, is        one recent 18-month period, First      have grown from $2.9 billion to         Schwartz is CEO.
of Municipalities’ annual meeting      lowed banks to sell insurance. On      secretary of Commerce’s board of        Jersey PAC gave $408,500 to            $17.7 billion by the end of 2002.          The Securities and Exchange
in Atlantic City in November,          Nov. 15 of that year, Commerce         directors.                              county parties and candidates and      Its overall government deposits         Commission is reviewing, among
Commerce executives threw a lav-       bought both Keystone National             Last year, Parker, McCay coun-       $489,400 to candidates running         have risen from less than $500 mil-     other things, whether Commerce
ish dinner party at Caesars Hotel      Insurance and Buckelew & Asso-         seled dozens of towns, school dis-      for the Assembly and state Senate.     lion to more than $2.5 billion.         shareholders should have been
Casino. The guests included Gov-       ciates, a Toms River insurance         tricts, and government authorities          A review by The Record of po-         More than $1.8 billion of those      told about the insider loan and po-
ernor McGreevey and Assembly           agency owned by Joseph E. Buck-        in bond deals worth $340 million,       litical donations by other banks       government deposits belong to           tential conflicts between the bank
Speaker Albio Sires. After dinner,     elew, then chairman of the Ocean       a portion of which had Commerce         operating in New Jersey shows          New Jersey taxpayers.                   and the investment group, accord-
Hill joined 3,500 state and local      County Republican Committee.           as underwriter or financial adviser.    that none has come close to Com-                                               ing to federal sources familiar with
government officials and their            Barely two years later, Com-           The 1996 purchase of George          merce.                                      Public business,                   the review.
families at an invitation-only         merce was transformed. The addi-       Norcross’ and Buckelew’s insur-             In 2002, for example, Compac            private business                      Arthur Makadon, a lawyer who
Beach Boys concert put on by the       tion of two huge subsidiaries,         ance companies - and the installa-      NJ gave more than $250,000 to                                                  represents Commerce Bancorp
bank.                                  Commerce Insurance Services and        tion of the two political heavy-                                     The foundation of Commerce’s
                                                                                                                      politicians and funds in New Jer-                                              and George Norcross, says there
   Although it is common practice      Commerce Capital Markets, made         weights in Hill’s executive suites -                              power is capital — both the mone-
                                                                                                                      sey. By comparison, employee                                                   was nothing improper about the
for bankers to court politicians,      it much more than an average           gave Commerce an immediate                                        tary and political varieties — and
                                                                                                                      PACs for competitors such as First                                             credit or how the bank disclosed it.
few banks have amassed the kind        bank.                                  one-two political punch. Overall                                  the ability to grant access to it.
                                                                                                                      Union/Wachovia and the Trust                                                      At the time of the U.S. Vision
of politically connected team that        Today, George Norcross, 47,         spending by Compac NJ exploded,                                      Simply put, Commerce and its
                                                                                                                      Company of New Jersey each gave                                                transaction, he says, national
now serves Commerce in its exec-                                                                                                                leaders have what others crave.                      banks were exempt from securities
utive suites and on assorted boards                                                                                                             Politicians want campaign dollars,                   law that required publicly traded
of directors.                                                                                                                                   lawyers need billable hours, and                     companies to tell shareholders
   Hill, 57, has forged political                                                                                                               developers seek financing and sub-                   about insider loans. Congress has
contacts with the same speed and                                                                                                                sidies for the sewers and highway                    since banned such insider loans —
verve he uses to build bank                                                                                                                     ramps that will help their projects                  except for national banks.
branches.                                                                                                                                       sell.                                                   Furthermore, Makadon says,
   Many of the men gathered                                                                                                                        Commerce’s         extraordinary                  his clients have not been informed
around him are a reflection of Hill                                                                                                             reach allows its executives and                      of any review or inquiry. An SEC
himself: part Republican, part De-                                                                                                              board members to bring politi-                       spokesman says agency policy is to
mocrat, and all business.                                                                                                                       cians, lawyers, and developers to-                   neither confirm nor deny the exis-
   Hill is a registered Republican.                                                                                                             gether for mutual benefit.                           tence of any inquiry.
But in the late 1980s, chafing at                                                                                                                  For watchdog groups, however,                        In March, critics attacked
the influence of North Jersey pow-                                                                                                              the interlocking political and fi-                   Roberts for using his authority
er brokers in Trenton, he became                                                                                                                nancial relationships between pol-                   over the legislative agenda to push
one of Democrat Jim Florio’s                                                                                                                    icymakers and Commerce execu-                        a bill that could have benefited
biggest fund-raisers when the                                                                                                                   tives and board members, includ-                     U.S. Vision. The bill would have
South Jersey congressman sought                                                                                                                 ing private business deals, raise a                  allowed optometrists to perform
the governorship.                                                                                                                               vital question: Can officeholders                    laser eye surgery. Roberts vowed to
   “Geography is more important                                                                                                                 with ties to both the bank and the                   sell his 17 percent stake in U.S. Vi-
than philosophy,” Hill explained                                                                                                                public be counted on to make de-                     sion if the company ever got into
14 years ago in New Jersey Suc-                                                                                                                 cisions on behalf of the people                      laser surgery, but the bill was with-
cess magazine.                                                                                                                                  they represent, rather than to ben-                  drawn before a vote.
   Now, some of Florio’s closest                                                                                                                efit those who supply them with
backers are Hill allies, helping him                                                                                                            campaign cash and personal in-        The public appointments:
expand Commerce’s financial and                                                                                                                 come? A sampling of the kinds of      New Jersey has 8 million resi-
political empire in many direc-                                                                                                                 Commerce connections that are dents. So what are the odds that
tions. Some of the key relation-                                                                                                                raising concern among rivals, reg- three of its most prominent public
ships, now grown tangled and                                                                                                                    ulators, and public advocates:      bodies would each be headed by a
overlapping, can be traced back to                                                                             BETH BALBIERZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER                                     Commerce board member last
the corridors of Commerce’s            Former Assembly Speaker Jack Collins, left, and former acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco entering Board-    The business deal:               year?
gleaming six-story headquarters in     walk Hall for Commerce's invitation-only Beach Boys concert during last November's New Jersey State         Assembly Majority Leader           ä Commerce board member
Cherry Hill.                           League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City. The prominent pair entered through a side door as Joseph J. Roberts Jr., D-Camden, is Harvey A. Holzberg was appoint-
   During the Florio years, one of     hundreds of invited municipal officials were turned away at the front door because of space limitations. a Commerce shareholder. He also See COMMERCE BANK Page 14
14 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JANUARY 2005


                                                                                                Published Wednesday, May 21, 2003

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Real estate titan



           ‘Genghis Khan’                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Donald Trump,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           left, with Ver-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           non W. Hill II at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           a Sept. 6, 2001,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           event promoting
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the opening of



           of N.J. banking
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           two Commerce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Bank branches
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           in New York
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           City.




                   Empire builder started young                                                                                                                                                                            GETTY IMAGES

By CLINT RILEY                                                                                                                                                                                                                         opening 40 branches. Late in the
STAFF WRITER                                                                                                                                                                                                                           year, a committee of Commerce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Bancorp directors decided that her
   Vernon W. Hill II, CEO and                                                                                                                                                                                                          company’s design services had
founder of Commerce Bancorp,                                                                                                                                                                                                           added value to Commerce for 25
rewards those loyal to him and                                                                                                                                                                                                         years and should continue on a
tries to crush those who oppose                                                                                                                                                                                                        more limited scale.
him.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Some financial experts have no
   He offers $5,000 bonuses to                                                                                                                                                                                                         problem with the way Hill and
Commerce bank managers who                                                                                                                                                                                                             Commerce operate.
close down competing branches.                                                                                                                                                                                                             The close relationships and po-
He hires the politically connected                                                                                                                                                                                                     litical activity of company execu-
and awards handsome stock op-                                                                                                                                                                                                          tives, board members, and em-
tions to top associates.                                                                                                                                                                                                               ployees do not concern Anthony
   He brashly declares he wants                                                                                                                                                                                                        R. Davis, a Ryan, Beck & Co. ana-
“100 percent of every government                                                                                                                                                                                                       lyst who has consistently given
deposit, corporate deposit, and                                                                                                                                                                                                        Commerce high marks.
consumer deposit.’’ No wonder                                                                                                                                                                                                              “This is an industry that has al-
some rattled rivals liken him to                                                                                                                                                                                                       ways been locally rooted,’’ Davis
Genghis Khan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          says. “I don’t see that they are do-
   Hill, not bashful about his tac-                                                                                                                                                                                                    ing anything legally or ethically
tics, sometimes adopts the nick-                                                                                                                                                                                                       that is out of line with what other
name himself.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          banks are doing.”
   Hill started empire-building ear-                                                                                                                                                                                                       In fact, he adds, “Commerce
ly. At age 20, he was a bank vice                                                                                                                                                                                                      has been pretty damn good at giv-
president while attending The                                                                                                                                                                                                          ing back to communities.”
Wharton School at the University                                                                                                                                                                                                           Other Wall Street watchers,
of Pennsylvania. William G.                                                                                                                                                                                                            however, urge investors and the
Rohrer, founder of First Peoples                                                                                                                                                                                                       public to pay closer attention.
Bank in Camden County, saw                                                                                                                                                                                                                 “It doesn’t square with a regular
promise in the fledgling financier                                                                                                                                                                                                     publicly traded company. There is
and placed him in charge of his                                                                                                                                                                                                        way too much self-dealing,” says
bank’s mortgage department.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Arne Alsin, an Internet financial
   But Hill had learned from his                                                                                                                                                                      COURTESY OF COURIER-POST         columnist who has reviewed Com-
real-estate developer father that he   Villa Collina, the 45,000-square-foot Moorestown mansion of Vernon W. Hill II and his wife, Shirley, has eight reflecting pools.                                                                merce’s filings with the Securities
would get richer as his own boss.                                                                                                                                                                                                      and Exchange Commission and
Within two years, Hill had started     the start-up Independence Bank                  build new ones.                                  square-foot mansion he and his                   earned $170,500 in other com-                 other documents.
a commercial site development          of New Jersey in Allendale. Only                   In January 1997, Commerce                     wife, Shirley, finished building last            pensation. Real estate companies                  Alsin, founder of Oregon-based
company in South Jersey. His first     Hill had banking experience.                    bought out Independence share-                   year in Moorestown, Burlington                   in which Hill is a partner with oth-          Alsin Capital Management, cited
client, in 1969, was McDonald’s            “Vernon was a dominant pres-                holders and replaced the mar-                    County. Villa Collina, Italian for               er Commerce board members col-                the contracts with Shirley Hill and
founder Ray Kroc, who was on the       ence on the board, and I think a                quees with big red C’s. The acqui-               “Hill House,” is 10,000 square feet              lected $1.1 million in rent from 17           the bank’s real estate ventures in-
prowl for new locations in New         lot of people looked to Vernon for              sition, coming less than four                    smaller than the White House, but                Commerce branch sites. And there              volving Vernon Hill and other
Jersey.                                guidance,’’ says William L. Griffin             months after Commerce Bancorp                    boasts eight reflecting pools, a                 was an additional $451,000 for use            board members.
   Many businesses have copied         Jr., Independence Bank’s first pres-            began trading on the New York                    greenhouse, and 44 acres of                      of the Galloway links.                            In addition, says Alsin, Com-
Kroc’s cookie-cutter retail model,     ident. “Vernon had goals, and he                Stock Exchange, marked the start                 woods.                                              Commerce also paid millions to             merce Bancorp’s stock is highly di-
but Hill was the first to apply the    was not shy about telling you what              of Hill’s aggressive expansion be-                 Villa Collina is assessed at $6.4              InterArch Inc., a Mount Laurel in-            luted because of the generous way
concept to banking, building a         he wanted to do.”                               yond South Jersey.                               million. The Hills could have                    terior design firm owned by                   Commerce has awarded stock op-
multibillion-dollar corporation            But not even Griffin could pre-                Today, he controls a vast busi-               bought two such mansions with                    Shirley Hill, for “architectural de-          tions to employees and board
and a personal fortune estimated       dict how Hill would go about                    ness empire that includes the fi-                what they collected from Com-                    sign, facilities management, and              members in recent years. He says
at $250 million.                       achieving his goals. His business               nancial conglomerate, real estate,               merce Bancorp in 2001. That year,                furniture procurement.’’ Last year,           that could hurt shareholders in the
   In 1973, Hill, then 27, persuad-    model has turned banking tradi-                 and fast-food franchises. An ac-                 Commerce compensated Vernon                      Wall Street analysts, members of              long run.
ed a group of skeptical South Jer-     tion on its ear: Commerce strives               complished golfer, Hill also is prin-            Hill, Shirley Hill, and companies                the financial press, and certain in-              Alsin says Commerce’s true val-
sey businessmen to invest $1.5         to increase its liabilities, in the             cipal owner of the exclusive Gal-                the couple own or are partners in                vestors voiced concerns about                 ue and strength as a company will
million in his first Commerce          form of deposits, rather than to                loway National Golf Club near At-                with at least $13.8 million.                     some of the insider practices at              emerge when its growth slows.
Bank branch in Burlington Coun-        grow its assets, in the form of loans           lantic City.                                       Last year, Vernon Hill earned a                Commerce, particularly the hefty                  “All companies that are grow-
ty. Two years later, he joined a       that are paid back with interest.                  He commands his domain from                   $1.5 million salary and a $750,000               payments to Shirley Hill’s compa-             ing this quickly eventually hit the
dozen young Bergen County busi-        And while other banks have                      the corporate headquarters in                    cash bonus, plus 150,000 Com-                    ny. In 2002, Commerce paid In-                wall,” he notes. “It’s not a matter
nessmen who were investing in          closed branches, Hill continues to              Cherry Hill or from the 45,000-                  merce stock options. He also                     terArch $8.1 million for help in              of if, it’s a matter of when.”



Commerce Bank                            Money in the banks                                                                                                                                                                            service.’’ With Gilmore, that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       friendly service extends to a per-
From Page 13                             Among the top five banks holding taxpayer dollars outside the $11 billion State of New Jersey Cash Management Fund, Commerce Bancorp                                                          sonal level as well: “If I need any
ed by McGreevey as chairman of           holds a disproportionate share for its size. Commerce also provides much more political capital in New Jersey than its much larger rivals.                                                    insurance, I’m going to call Joe
the University of Medicine and                                                             FleetBoston       Commerce            First Union/     PNC Financial Valley National                                                        Buckelew. There’s a comfort level
Dentistry of New Jersey, which                                                            Financial Corp.       Bancorp        Wachovia Corp. Services Group            Bancorp                                                        there.’’ Assemblyman David Rus-
oversees the state’s medical educa-                                                                                                                                                                                                    so, R-Ridgewood, says Com-
tion and has ties to more than 200       Financially (in billions, as of Dec. 31, 2002)                                                                                                                                                merce’s activities around the state
hospitals and health-care institu-       Total assets                                                          $186.1                  $17.7                     $325.4                    $62.2                    $9.0               appear even to surpass traditional
tions.                                   Total deposits                                                        $130.7                  $14.7                     $199.4                    $46.2                    $6.7               pay to play.
   ä Commerce board member               Total govt deposits                                                   $13.2                    $2.5                      $8.7                      $2.0                    $0.5                  “This is not exactly pay to play,”
Jerold L. Zaro was appointed by          N.J. govt deposits                                                     $1.9                    $1.8                      $1.0                      $0.9                    $0.5               says Russo, who a decade ago ad-
McGreevey as chairman of the                                                                                                                                                                                                           vocated tighter regulation of com-
New Jersey Highway Authority,            % N.J. govt deposits of overall deposits                               1.5%                   12.4%                      0.5%                     2.0%                     7.1%               panies entrusted with public funds.
the $200 million agency that over-       Bank's share of all N.J. govt deposits                                20.6%                   19.1%                     10.0%                     9.5%                     5.0%               “Why would you have to pay? It’s
sees the Garden State Parkway.                                                                                                                                                                                                         like they’ve made everybody a
   ä Commerce board member               Politically (2002 PAC expenditures)                                                                                                                                                           partner. They’re all stakeholders.”
Joseph E. Buckelew was chairman          New Jersey                                                            $78                    $653,364                  $25,897                   $250                        $0
of the New Jersey Sports and Ex-         Federal campaigns                                                   $102,197                 $61,367                  $296,701                 $288,612                      $0                   The door to the governor’s office:
position Authority, the agency           Total                                                               $102,275                 $714,731                 $322,598                 $288,862                      $0                   In Trenton, access is everything.
overseeing the $1.3 billion rede-        Sources: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; N.J. Department of Banking and Insurance; Federal Election Commission; N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission; Pennsylvania Department of State       Two Commerce insiders have
velopment of the Meadowlands                                                                                                                                                                                                           enjoyed access of the most prized
sports complex. He was appointed   most prominent developers to at-                    in New Jersey. The players have                  lo — whose lead bond lawyer,                     was unconstitutional.                         variety. State House employees say
by McGreevey’s predecessor, act-   tend a meeting with Hackensack                      become so addicted to it.”                       Philip Norcross, is Commerce’s                      On March 4, 2002, the town-                they’ve seen George Norcross and
ing Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco.    city officials. The letter began “Re:                  Commerce is only one of many                  campaign finance lawyer — made                   ship completed just such a no-bid             John A. Lynch enter McGreevey’s
   Buckelew, a Republican fund-    Redevelopment Opportunities —                       players, but its leaders are among               $26,500 on the county deal. Blank                deal, refinancing $7.4 million in             office through a restricted private
raiser, and Zaro, a Democratic     Hackensack.”                                        the masters.                                     Rome LLP, Commerce’s corpo-                      debt with Commerce Capital,                   entrance. In the past year, Nor-
fund-raiser, served seven years to-   “In particular, the City would                      Consider bond deals struck in                 rate counsel, made $40,000 on the                which was paid a fee of almost                cross and Lynch also have attend-
gether on the Highway Authority    like to know what you envision                      three counties — Gloucester, Mer-                utilities authority deal.                        $40,000.                                      ed private political strategy meet-
board until DiFrancesco tapped     Hackensack’s current residential                    cer, and Ocean — in the space of                     Both law firms contributed                      The mayor defends the ordi-                ings at Drumthwacket, the gover-
Buckelew for the Meadowlands       market to be and the type of re-                    eight months last year.                          heavily to political funds benefiting            nance change. Noting that most                nor’s official residence.
post. They also are partners in sev-
                                   zoning and redevelopment assis-                        In his successful 2001 campaign               county Democrats and Sweeney.                    law firms, engineers, and other                   The three men knew each other
eral commercial real estate devel- tance that you believe would be                     for state Senate, Democrat                       From 1998 through 2002, Parker,                  vendors are big political contribu-           well before McGreevey became
opment ventures around the state.  necessary,” Napolitano wrote.                       Stephen Sweeney — already direc-                 McCay gave $52,500 to the                        tors in Hamilton Township and                 governor.
   DiFrancesco, whose political       The stationery identified him as                 tor of the Gloucester County                     Gloucester County Democratic                     Mercer County, he says that with-                 Lynch, a former mayor of New
funds received $20,600 from Com-   the bank’s regional president.                      Board of Freeholders —raised $1.8                Committee, and Blank Rome gave                   out the change, “I would suspect              Brunswick and former state Sen-
pac NJ while he served as Senate   Nothing in the letter indicated his                 million, a state record for a legisla-           $41,500. Parker, McCay gave                      there would be many professional              ate president, is McGreevey’s long-
president, joined Buckelew, Zaro,  role with the Hackensack Eco-                       tive race. His opponent, incum-                  $9,800 to Sweeney’s 2001 cam-                    organizations that would not have             time political mentor, the force
and Holzberg at Commerce less      nomic Development Commission.                       bent Raymond Zane, raised just                   paign, and Blank Rome con-                       been permitted to do business with            who helped guide McGreevey into
than three months after he left the   Contacted this month, Napoli-                    under $711,000.                                  tributed $7,500.                                 the township.’’ The third example             the governor’s office. Lynch has
governor’s office.                 tano said he didn’t recall the letter                  The man behind much of                            Sweeney did not return a re-                 occurred in October 2002, when                served on the regional Com-
                                   or see a reason to question his                     Sweeney’s money was his boy-                     porter’s call seeking comment.                   Ocean County’s all-Republican                 merce/Central board since at least
   The pitch to developers:        multiple interests. “I sit on lots of               hood friend, George Norcross.                        Zane, the man Sweeney defeat-                Board of Freeholders refinanced               2001.
   James R. Napolitano wears boards and I do it to help out the                           In February 2002, barely four                 ed, was not shy when drawing                     $55.5 million in long-term debt.                  A sizable chunk of the $68.2
three hats.                        community,” Napolitano said.                        months after Sweeney’s victory,                  conclusions about his opponent’s                 The no-bid deal earned Commerce               million campaign war chest that
   He is an attorney with DeCoti-                                                      Gloucester County and the                        backers. In an interview after his               Capital, which handled almost half            helped McGreevey gain office was
is, Fitzpatrick, Cole & Wisler, a     The ‘pay-to-play’ bond deals:                    Gloucester County Utilities Au-                  loss, Zane said, “This business of               the bonding, a good share of the              raised by George Norcross, who
Teaneck firm that handles busi-       “Pay to play” is how much of                     thority each completed no-bid                    raising a million dollars for a                  $150,000 in underwriting fees.                also delivered key South Jersey
ness for dozens of local govern- New Jersey’s government business                      agreements with Commerce Capi-                   $49,000 legislative seat is non-                    Less than a week later, Compac             votes. He became a Commerce ex-
ments and state agencies.          gets done. In pay to play’s most ba-                tal Markets to refinance bond                    sense. This was a major investment               NJ mailed two checks totaling                 ecutive in 1997, and joined Com-
   He is vice chairman of the sic form, entities that depend on                        debts of $11 million and $4.7 mil-               by people who look to gain per-                  $10,500 to the Ocean County Re-               merce Bancorp’s main board of di-
Hackensack Economic Develop- government work give campaign                             lion, respectively.                              sonally.”                                        publican Finance Committee,                   rectors in March 2002.
ment Commission, whose nine ap- contributions to people who might                         On the county bond issue,                         Commerce also was active in                  whose chairman is George                          “Every insider conversation in
pointed members assist the city’s help them get those contracts.                       Commerce shared a $68,000 un-                    Mercer County.                                   Gilmore, head of the Toms River               Trenton starts with those two
Planning Board with zoning and        Widespread acceptance of the                     derwriting fee with Salomon                          From February 2000 to April                  law firm that represented Com-                names,” says political scientist
redevelopment issues.              practice has become “ethically cor-                 Smith Barney. It made approxi-                   2002, Compac NJ donated $9,650                   merce in the bond deal. He is not             David Rebovich, director of The
   And he is president of the Com- rosive and economically costly,”                    mately $30,000 on the utilities au-              to the campaign fund of Hamilton                 related to Hamilton Township’s                Rider Institute for New Jersey Pol-
merce Bank/North division, based says Harry Pozycki, executive di-                     thority’s bond.                                  Township Mayor Glen Gilmore.                     Glen Gilmore.                                 itics. “Lynch and Norcross helped
in Ramsey.                         rector of Common Cause New Jer-                        The same month, Compac NJ                         In late 2001, Gilmore, a Demo-                  “I would emphatically deny                 make Jim McGreevey a viable
   A year ago, Napolitano appar- sey.                                                  contributed $9,250 to the Glouces-               crat, and the all-Democratic coun-               there’s a connection between cam-             statewide candidate.”
ently became confused about just      “It’s legalized bribery,” says                   ter County Executive Committee.                  cil repealed an ordinance that pro-              paign contributions and govern-                   Trenton insiders consider Nor-
which hat he was wearing. In May Pozycki, a former chairman of the                        Furthermore, each bond deal                   hibited giving no-bid contracts to               ment work in Ocean County,’’                  cross and Lynch the Democratic
2002, writing on Commerce Bank Middlesex County Democratic                             was legally blessed by a law firm                firms that contribute more than                  George Gilmore says. “They                    bosses of South and Central New
letterhead, complete with the red Committee. “The pay-to-play sys-                     with close allegiances to Com-                   $2,500 to local politicians and po-              [Commerce] have been very suc-                Jersey, respectively, and it’s no se-
C, he invited some of the state’s tem has infected our government                      merce. Parker, McCay & Criscuo-                  litical parties, saying the ordinance            cessful because of their friendly              See COMMERCE BANK Page 15
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE RECORD 15


                                                                                                 Published Wednesday, May 21, 2003




                                                                                                                                                                                                                              STAFF PHOTOS BY BETH BALBIERZ
       An office near you: Commerce locations include, from left, 102 South Paramus Road, Paramus; 63 West Allendale Ave., Allendale; 540 River St., Hackensack; and 1100 Lake St., Ramsey.




                      Branching north in a big way
Government deposits
up 2,407 % since ’97
By SHANNON D. HARRINGTON                gling themselves to get govern-
and JOSH GOLKE                          ment business.”
STAFF WRITERS                              Commerce’s growth in bank de-
                                        posits has paralleled its rising share
   It took Commerce Bancorp sev-        of the region’s bond market. Last
eral years to march north, but the      year, Commerce Capital Markets
Cherry Hill-based company wast-         underwrote more than one-third
ed no time after establishing a         of all debt issued in Bergen Coun-
beachhead in 1997.                      ty; 17 other institutions split the
   That year, Commerce trained its      rest.
sights on Independence Bancorp,            Commerce also won the job of
a tidy eight-branch operation           underwriting more than $67 mil-
based in Ramsey. Commerce CEO           lion in bonds to consolidate
Vernon W. Hill II knew the bank         Bergen County and municipal                                                                                                                                                                 DON SMITH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
well; he helped found Indepen-          debt obligations to the state pen-                                                                                                           James R. Napolitano, president of the Commerce Bank/North divi-
dence in 1975.                          sion system. The county negotiat-                                                                                                            sion, attended the grand opening of the branch on Palisade Avenue
   In the six years since Commerce      ed exclusively with Commerce                                                                                                                 in Fort Lee on Nov. 23, 2002.
acquired Independence, Com-             and did not invite other banks to
merce’s growth has been explo-          bid.                                                                                                                                         ing helicopters in a nearby office         spread that business around,” Muti
sive. Thirteen new branches have           In Passaic County, Commerce                                                                                                               park for 15 years without required         says.
opened in Bergen and Passaic            handled no bond sales from 1993                                                                                                              approval from the Borough Coun-               In 1998, an even bigger uproar
counties. The bank expects to have      to 1998 but has since underwritten                                                                                                           cil or state transportation officials,     accompanied the Passaic County
25 by the end of the year.              one-third of county bond deals,                                                                                                              and despite occasional calls to po-        government’s decision to do busi-
   Total deposits — consumer,           worth $107 million. All were com-                                                                                                            lice from the public.                      ness with Commerce, and resulted
business, and government — in           petitively bid.                                                                                                                                  One police report from 1999            in calls for federal and ethics in-
Commerce Bank/North have bal-              Passaic County Auditor Steven                                                                                                             describes how an officer relayed a         vestigations.
looned 380 percent, from $350           Wielkotz says the bank simply of-                                                                                                            helicopter complaint to James R.              Shortly after Democrats took
million at the end of 1996 to $1.7      fered the best deals.                                                                                                                        Napolitano, president of the Com-          over county government, the
billion in December 2002, accord-          “It’s only been in the last five or                                                                                                       merce Bank/North division.                 Board of Freeholders voted to
ing to Federal Deposit Insurance        six years that Commerce has be-                                                                                                              Napolitano told the officer that           open three new Commerce ac-
Corp. reports.                          come a major player,” Wielkotz                                                                                                               Mayor John Scerbo had granted              counts with about $10 million,
   But that overall growth pales in     says. “It’s the most rapidly ex-                                                                                                             permission for the landings. Scer-         more than 15 percent of the coun-
comparison with the speed with          panding bank in all of New Jersey.                                                                                                           bo’s son, Ryan, is an associate at-        ty’s deposits.
which Commerce has amassed              I think it’s been more aggressive                                                                                                            torney at the Teaneck law firm De-            The sudden movement of mon-
government financial business in        than other institutions.”                                                                                                                    cotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole & Wisler,        ey prompted questions from the
North Jersey — in both bank de-            Still, the rate at which Com-                                                                                                             where Napolitano does occasion-            Republican minority.
posits and bond underwriting.           merce has developed government                                                                                                               al work. Contacted last year,                 They noted that Commerce had
   Since the start of 1997, the         business has prompted public offi-                                                                                                           Napolitano called the police re-           multiple links to the people who
amount of taxpayer money de-            cials, government watchdogs, and                                                                                                             port “totally incorrect,’’ and the of-     had just taken over. County De-
posited in Commerce Bank/North          banking competitors to ask                       Sources: Federal Deposit
                                                                                                                                                                                     ficer could no longer recall a con-        mocratic Chairman John Currie
branches has surged from $8.4           whether its vast political connec-               Insurance Corporation,                                                                      versation with Napolitano.                 was the bank’s North Jersey com-
million, or 2 percent of all de-        tions are playing too great a role.              Commerce Bank                                                R.L. REBACH/STAFF ARTIST           Scerbo and the Ramsey Council          munity outreach coordinator.
posits, to $211 million, or 12 per-        Those connections are forged                                                                                                              maintained ignorance of illegal               County Counsel William J.
cent of all deposits.                   through campaign donations and                 Ahearn of Fair Lawn. “The com-                   building site was approved, neigh-           helicopter activity. A slate of De-        Pascrell III is a partner in Prince-
   Looking at Commerce’s success        lucrative professional relation-               mercialization of government and                 boring Leonia — whose mayor,                 mocratic challengers made an is-           ton Public Affairs Group, Com-
another way, its North Jersey con-      ships.                                         politics is undermining the demo-                Paul Kaufman, is a partner in the            sue of the helicopters and in No-          merce’s lobbying firm. In 1998, the
sumer and business deposits in-            Since the bank’s emergence in               cratic process from top to bottom.               law firm — moved 85 percent of its           vember defeated Scerbo and two             bank had donated $5,000 to the
creased 348 percent in six years,       Bergen County, its political action            There are no checks and balances                 deposits to Commerce.                        councilmen, Joseph Pojanowski              reelection campaign of Pascrell’s
but its taxpayer-based deposits in-     committee has distributed $41,000              in place to protect the interests of                Kaufman insisted that one rela-           and Paul R. Harris. Commerce               father, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., the
creased by 2,407 percent.               to Republicans and Democrats.                  people in local communities.’’ Dis-              tionship had nothing to do with              withdrew plans for the helipad.            county’s top Democrat.
   One-third of the Bergen Coun-        Overshadowing that sum is the                  gusted with the Bergen County                    the other. In fact, he says, Leonia’s            Less than two months after his            The younger Pascrell says he
ty government’s deposits are now        money poured into campaign cof-                Democratic Organization, Ahearn                  finance officer made the decision            term ended, Pojanowski was                 has never lobbied personally for
with Commerce.                          fers from fund-raising machines                quit the party four months ago and               to pursue a new bank. During                 working directly for Commerce,             Commerce and has “nothing to
   “They really bend over back-         controlled by Commerce execu-                  became a Green Party representa-                 council discussion, Kaufman left             representing the bank in its effort        do” with decisions about the coun-
ward for us,” says Bogota Mayor         tive George E. Norcross III and                tive.                                            the room, and he abstained from              to place a branch in Clifton.              ty’s banking.
Steven Lonegan, whose town              one of the bank’s regional board                   Professional service deals have              voting. Leonia’s business adminis-               “It seemed like Commerce                  “Those were baseless accusa-
switched to Commerce last year          members, John A. Lynch.                        proven mutually beneficial to                    trator also went out of his way to           Bank was getting special treatment         tions that never panned out,” he
after its old bank, Summit Ban-            Lynch and Norcross helped                   Commerce and to the county’s po-                 announce that the mayor was not              from our governing body,” says             says. “Nothing ever came of it.”
corp, was purchased by Fleet-           bankroll last year’s $4 million                litical elite, including select munic-           involved in the switch.                      Mayor Richard Muti, who defeat-
Boston Financial Corp. Lonegan          campaign that enabled Democrats                ipal officials.                                     In Ramsey, a public outcry                ed Scerbo.                                 Staff Writers Clint Riley and Brian
says Summit’s representative went       to take control of Bergen County                   In 2001, Commerce hired the                  arose last year when Commerce                    Muti says the borough is solicit-      Aberback contributed to this article.
to work for Commerce.                   government.                                    law firm of Kaufman, Gelbert &                   asked the Planning Board for per-            ing proposals from other banks for         Shannon D. Harrington’s e-mail ad-
   “They actually send a courier to        “What you are seeing in politics            Bern to help it win Planning                     mission to build a helipad beside            its $10 million in deposits, most of       dress is harrington@northjersey
us to pick up our tax checks,”          is what you would call unfair com-             Board approval for a new branch                  its regional headquarters. The               which remain with Commerce.                .com. Josh Gohlke’s e-mail address
Lonegan says. “They’re really an-       petition,’’ says Assemblyman Matt              in Fort Lee. A few months after the              bank, it turned out, had been land-              “It’s my intention to try and          is gohlke@northjersey.com.




Commerce Bank                           one representative.
                                           Campaign cash in North Jersey:
                                                                                          McNamara has a theory why so
                                                                                       much outside money flowed to his
                                                                                                                                        velopers, contractors, engineers,
                                                                                                                                        and, of course, government.
                                                                                                                                                                                     freshing leadership to county gov-
                                                                                                                                                                                     ernment.’’ From Main Street to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                have promised strict new laws for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                campaign financing, government
From Page 14                            Bergen County Democrats spent                  opponent: McNamara had fierce-                      “The public has to start becom-           Wall Street, taxpayers and in-             contracts, and ethics, but critics
cret they can get the governor’s        more than $4 million last year to              ly opposed proposals to build a                  ing aware of what is happening               vestors are losing patience with the       complain there are few signs that
ear. Even after the 2001 election,      win control of county government.              $355 million sports arena in                     when any party will spend $4 mil-            insider privileges enjoyed by the          anyone is willing to expend the po-
Lynch and Norcross continued to         It was the most expensive county               Newark and redevelop the Mead-                   lion for a $100,000 job,’’ McNa-             politicians they elect and the com-        litical capital necessary to make
advise McGreevey, even on whom          executive’s race in New Jersey his-            owlands — plans pushed by virtu-                 mara says. “They didn’t make that            panies in which they invest.               real reforms.
he should appoint to key posts,         tory.                                          ally every power broker in the                   kind of investment without look-                “The public is OK with winning              As it stands, the officeholders
prompting the governor’s office to         The biggest portion of that mon-            state, including Democrats Nor-                  ing for a return.’’ The man who ran          and losing as long as everyone is          Commerce woos can legally hold
make several public denials of          ey can be traced directly to the               cross and Lynch and Republicans                  McNerney’s campaign dismisses                playing by the rules and the rules         multiple public positions, limit
their influence. Both men were          Central and South Jersey fund-                 Buckelew and DiFrancesco.                        the notion that campaign contrib-            aren’t being manipulated,” says            their disclosure of potential con-
known to have attended key meet-        raising machines controlled by                    McNerney        opposed       the             utors were making business in-               Frank Narvan, a consultant to the          flicts of interest, and hand out con-
ings on such sensitive matters as       Commerce Bank insiders Nor-                    Newark arena in private but en-                  vestments.                                   non-profit Ethics Resource Center          tracts without competition.
replacing Sen. Robert G. Torricel-      cross and Lynch.                               thusiastically embraced Meadow-                     “People contributed to the                in Washington, D.C.                            And the critics say the lawmak-
li and state police Superintendent         The money enabled Dennis Mc-                lands redevelopment, which could                 Bergen County Democrats and                     “The role of government is to           ers who might toughen standards
Joseph Santiago.                        Nerney, a municipal finance                    pave the way to build a new arena.               Dennis McNerney because they                 serve the public interest. What the        have little reason to challenge a
    “This is the worst-kept secret in   banker, to overwhelm state Sen.                   Both projects would offer Com-                shared his vision for the county,’’          public wants to know is, are the           system that benefits insiders both
New Jersey politics, which has led      Henry P. McNamara, a retired car               merce and other financial services               says Bill Maer, now a consultant to          public officials making decisions in       politically and financially.
folks to wonder whether the gov-        dealer, in the race for county exec-           providers opportunities to make                  the county Democrats. “They                  my best interest?” In one poll this            Some business and political
ernor is really calling the shots,”     utive.                                         millions of dollars in fees from de-             thought he would bring young, re-            year, 77 percent of New Jerseyans          leaders “believe if it’s legal and the
Rebovich says.                                                                                                                                                                       believed there was political cor-          rules don’t prohibit it, it must be
    Norcross, who attended the in-                                                                                                                                                   ruption in the state. Respondents          OK,’’ Narvan says, adding that he
terview at The Record with Hill,
declined to characterize the nature
                                          Top 10 bond underwriters                                                                                                                   also believed that about half the
                                                                                                                                                                                     state’s politicians were corrupt.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                considers such conduct “the low-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                est level of behavior individuals
of his association with Mc-               In 2002, New Jersey, its municipalities, and its authorities issued $7.45 billion in long-term government                                     A second survey, dealing with           should be following.”
Greevey. Lynch did not return a           debt through negotiation, rather than competitive bidding. A look at the leading financial services com-                                   corporate governance, found that               Former state Sen. William
reporter’s phone call. Micah Ras-         panies and their long-term bond deals:                                                                                                     almost 75 percent of respondents           Schluter, who once headed the
mussen, the governor’s spokes-                                                              Total bond value        Share of               Total                                     felt they could not trust corporate        Legislature’s Joint Committee on
man, also declined to describe the        Underwriter                        Rank             (in millions)       no-bid bonds            issues                                     CEOs.                                      Ethical Standards and now teach-
two men’s relationship with Mc-           Salomon Smith Barney*                 1               $2,026.4             27.2%                  10                                          Facing ever-tougher questioning         es reform politics at Rutgers Uni-
Greevey.                                                                                                                                                                             about company practices, Hill              versity, says he is appalled that
                                          Commerce Capital Markets*             2                1,466.2             19.7%                  64
    Norcross, Lynch, and Com-                                                                                                                                                        tried to reassure investors gathered       New Jersey lawmakers and the
merce CEO Hill are among 36               UBS PaineWebber Inc.                  3                $950.0              12.8%                  14                                       last month at the Waldorf-Astoria          public are permitting Commerce
business leaders appointed by Mc-         Merrill Lynch & Co.                   4                $577.0                7.8%                 10                                       hotel in New York.                         to wield such influence.
Greevey to Prosperity New Jersey,         Lehman Brothers                       5                $412.9                5.6%                  4                                          “As no one has ever tried to                “I am outraged that government
a state-funded group that brings          Wachovia Securities Inc.              6                $392.0                5.3%                 15                                       build a major bank this way before,        is being taken away from people
together public and private sectors                                                                                                                                                  don’t be surprised if we make a            and the public be damned,”
to discuss how government can as-         Morgan Stanley                        7                $355.4                4.8%                  5                                       few errors, a few falls, a few stum-       Schluter says. “This is power. It is
sist business.                            Goldman, Sachs & Co.                  8                $338.0                4.5%                  4                                       bles along the way,” Hill said.            raw power and it is the determin-
    Trustees include the governor,        Windsor Financial Group               9                $181.9                2.4%                 12                                          He acknowledged that “the cli-          ing factor in government deci-
his top Cabinet officers, and such        Bear, Stearns & Co.                 10                 $134.3                1.8%                  2                                       mate is changing’’ for political giv-      sions.”
business heavyweights as the pres-        * Commerce Capital Markets and Salomon Smith Barney (recently renamed Citigroup Global Markets Inc.) co-managed New Jersey's               ing by government contractors.
idents of Johnson & Johnson,              $1.8 billion no-bid tobacco settlement bond last year. They split the fees for putting the deal together, but industry rankings gave Sa-      “What meets the law may not             Staff Writer Shannon Harrington
Continental Airlines, Pfizer Inc.,        lomon full underwriting credit for the deal. If the rankings had reflected the actual shared management, Commerce would be the state's     be the current accepted practice,”         contributed to this article. Clint Ri-
                                          top underwriter of no-bid, long-term government debt.
and Merck & Co. Commerce is                                                                                                                                                          Hill said.                                 ley’s e-mail address is riley@north-
                                          Source: Thompson Financial Securities Data
the only company with more than                                                                                                                                                         The governor and legislators            jersey.com
16 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                                JANUARY 2005


                                                                                          Published Wednesday, May 21, 2003



     ‘Playing on the edges’ of political giving                                    By CLINT RILEY                          Commerce Capital Markets                and changing repayment dates            der election law. The $13,000 was
 A generous donor                                                                  STAFF WRITER                            found its way into a political fund     from one year to the next.              part of the money repaid in
 A snapshot of where Compac NJ provided political contributions in                                                         that directly benefits candidates          “That is clearly playing on the      March 2003.
 New Jersey from 1997 to 2002.                                                        Repeated money transfers be-         with the power to determine who         edges. It is clearly playing in the        On Monday, Philip Norcross, a
 Organization                                           Amount                     tween political funds controlled        gets local bond business.               gray areas,” says Larry Noble, for-     campaign finance lawyer for
                                                                                   by Commerce Bancorp have al-               Commerce has two employee            mer longtime Federal Election           Compac NJ and Commerce
 Camden County/Democrats                               $279,685                    lowed some Commerce employ-             political action funds, one state       Commission general counsel and          Bank-FED, declined to discuss
 Burlington County/Republicans                         $229,980                    ees to sidestep laws intended to        and one federal. Compac NJ has          now executive director of the           the PACs’ activities or the rela-
 Ocean County/Republicans                              $187,596                    limit political donations from          distributed more than $3 million        Center for Responsible Politics in      tionship between the bank and
 Gloucester County/Democrats, some Republicans         $134,850                    those who profit from govern-           to local, county, and state political   Washington, D.C.                        his law firm, Parker, McCay &
                                                                                   ment bond deals, a financial            funds in the Northeast since 1997,         Compac NJ repaid all the out-        Criscuolo. “Mr. Norcross cannot
 Middlesex County/Democrats                            $103,500                    analysis by The Record shows.           including $1.65 million in New          standing loans on March 13, two         comment on any relationships
 New Jersey Democratic State Committee                  $93,000                        Since 1994, federal securities      Jersey.                                 weeks after The Record requested        with clients of the law firm,” his
 Mercer County/Republicans, urban Democrats             $77,085                    rules have prohibited any bank,            In the same period, Commerce         an interview with Commerce offi-        assistant said.
 New Jersey Republican State Committee                  $72,250                    investment house, or employee           Bank-FED raised an additional           cials about the bank’s compliance          The Record’s analysis of cam-
                                                                                   involved in underwriting state          $264,955 through employees,             with rules limiting campaign con-       paign records also shows that at
 Senate Democratic Majority Leadership PAC              $60,000                    and local government debt —             most of it from current or former       tributions by municipal finance         least $23,250 in Compac NJ con-
 Essex County/Republicans, Democrats                    $56,600                    known as municipal bonds —              municipal finance professionals         professionals.                          tributions that bank officials say
 Monmouth County/Republicans, Democrats                 $50,590                    from contributing more than             covered by the 1994 securities             Commerce CEO Vernon W.               went to six campaign funds do
 Salem County/Republicans                               $46,800                    $250 “either directly or indirectly”    rules. Only $159,250 of those fed-      Hill II told a gathering of in-         not show up in the six funds’
                                                                                   to politicians who can influence        eral contributions, however, has        vestors last month that the bank’s      records. Compac NJ reported the
 Atlantic County/Republicans, Democrats                 $44,700                    the awarding of bond business.          actually gone to support candi-         political donations had been “in        contributions were made to coun-
 Bergen County/Republicans, Democrats                   $41,000                       Additional federal and state         dates running for federal office.       total compliance with the law.”         ty and local funds for both Re-
 Somerset County/Republicans                            $39,650                    election laws also limit the size of       Municipal finance profession-           Hill reiterated the bank’s posi-     publicans and Democrats from
                                                                                   contributions and the way that          als, such as those employed by          tion in an interview with The           Sept. 26, 2000, to May 13, 2002. It
 Assembly Republican Majority Leadership PAC            $32,500
                                                                                   money from individuals and reg-         Commerce Capital Markets, may           Record last week.                       is unclear why the contributions
 Cape May County/Republicans                            $27,500                    ulated industries such as banks is      donate to federal campaign PACs            “Everything we have done with        were not recorded.
 Union County/Republicans                               $21,375                    given to politicians and political      but are prohibited from con-            our PACs is approved by our at-            Christopher “Kit’’ Taylor, exec-
 Cumberland County/Democrats, Republicans               $17,850                    funds.                                  tributing more than $250 to state       torneys,” he said.                      utive director of the Municipal
                                                                                      Commerce Bancorp is a major          PACs that direct money to local            Despite that, campaign records       Securities Rulemaking Board, de-
 Donald T. DiFrancesco Gubernatorial Campaign           $11,100                    player in government bonds. Its         and state officials.                    show that Commerce last year            clined to address specifics of
 Senate Republican Majority Leadership PAC               $8,500                    securities subsidiary, Commerce            Federal and state campaign           may have violated a state election      Commerce’s political giving.
 Morris County/Republicans                               $5,000                    Capital Markets, is the nation’s        records show that Commerce              law limiting contributions. The            But he did say any company
 Hudson County/Democrats                                 $3,000                    23rd biggest underwriter of long-       Bank-FED           has       loaned     law allows a federal or state PAC       that underwrites government debt
                                                                                   term government debt, and last          $182,338.22 to Compac NJ since          to contribute only $7,200 a year        is prohibited from making even
 Passaic County/Democrats                                $1,950                    year underwrote one-third of all        1998, the year Commerce Capital         to a state PAC, and Commerce            indirect campaign contributions
 Republican Senate President's Committee                 $1,000                    bonds issued in New Jersey.             Markets expanded. For years,            Bank-FED made two loans total-          to funds benefiting officials re-
 Hunterdon County/Democrats                               $500                        The Record’s review, begun last      state campaign finance records          ing $13,000 to Compac NJ in             sponsible for issuing the debt.
 Total                                                $1,647,561                   year, discovered that as much as        show, Compac NJ did not pay             2002. Loans that are not repaid in         “You may not do indirectly
                                                                                   $182,338.22 obtained from 39            back the principal on the loans,        the year in which they are made         what you are forbidden from do-
 Source: Compiled from New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission data         current and former employees of         instead merely adding to them           are considered contributions un-        ing directly,” he says.




DiFrancesco’s parting act helped Commerce
Bill expanding                                                                                                                                                                                             opment Authority. Aside from hav-
                                                                                                                                                                                                           ing much more experience than
bridge authority                                                                                                                                                                                           the bridge commission, the state
                                                                                                                                                                                                           EDA can offer lower interest rates
benefited bank                                                                                                                                                                                             because it usually gets a higher
                                                                                                                                                                                                           credit rating. With an in-house
                                                                                                                                                                                                           staff, the EDA also can handle larg-
By CLINT RILEY                                                                                                                                                                                             er, more complex bond deals with-
STAFF WRITER                                                                                                                                                                                               out relying entirely on outside legal
                                                                                                                                                                                                           and financial advisers.
   At the time, it looked like an in-                                                                                                                                                                          The bridge commission did turn
significant stroke of the pen by a                                                                                                                                                                         to outsiders for help with both
lame-duck governor. But that                                                                                                                                                                               bond deals. Professional Financial
scribble will tax citizens for at least                                                                                                                                                                    Management, a Philadelphia-based
the next 20 years.                                                                                                                                                                                         financial advisory firm with an of-
   On Jan. 2, 2002, in his waning                                                                                                                                                                          fice in Moorestown, was paid
days as acting governor, Donald T.                                                                                                                                                                         $150,000 for financial advice.
DiFrancesco granted new powers                                                                                                                                                                             Capehart & Scatchard, a Burling-
to the Burlington County Bridge                                                                                                                                                                            ton County law firm, earned an ad-
Commission, an obscure agency                                                                                                                                                                              ditional $191,000 for legal advice.
that operates two small toll bridges                                                                                                                                                                           Capehart & Scatchard, Profes-
over the Delaware River.                                                                                                                                                                                   sional Financial Management, and
   Now, in addition to painting the                                                                                                                                                                        Commerce Bancorp are all large
bridges and collecting tolls, the                                                                                                                                                                          campaign contributors to the
commission has the ability to fund                                                                                                                                                                         Burlington County Republican
county economic development by                                                                                                                                                                             Committee, whose chairman,
issuing government debt, in the                                                                                                                                                                            Paulsen, is a partner with Capehart
form of municipal bonds.                                                                                                                                                                                   & Scatchard. Professional Finan-
   So far, one of the biggest bene-                                                                                                                                                                        cial Management employs family
ficiaries is Commerce Bancorp, the                                                                                                                                                                         members of the bridge commis-
financial services company whose                                                                                                                                                                           sion’s executive director and its
board DiFrancesco joined less than                                                                                                                                                                         bond counsel.
three months after leaving office.                                                                                                                                                                             Paulsen says he backed expan-
The Republican’s journey through                                                                                                                                                                           sion of the commission’s bonding
the revolving door of New Jersey                                                                                                                                                                           power and reviewed the legislation
government reflects how influen-                                                                                                                                   BETH BALBIERZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER        in his job as the Senate Republi-
tial political leaders whom Com-           Donald T. DiFrancesco broke no laws when he signed a bill that benefited Commerce, whose board he joined after leaving the governorship.                        cans’ legal counsel. But he says he
merce supports, both in and out of                                                                                                                                                                         does not recall speaking directly to
office, have been in a position to            “He really wasn’t that involved         Some citizen advocacy groups         publican Committee to stay in of-       tical legislation was introduced in     DiFrancesco about the bill.
shape public policy in Commerce’s          in the legislative process that much.   find the overlapping financial in-      fice.                                   the lower house by her county run-          “This was designed to spur revi-
favor.                                     His role really took shape when         terests troubling.                          Year after year, the county com-    ning mates, Assemblymen Francis         talization of the Route 130 corri-
   Commerce Capital Markets, a             the bills passed both houses,” said        “The Burlington County Bridge        mittee is the biggest GOP fund-         L. Bodine and Larry Chatzidakis.        dor,” Paulsen says. “I think it is
Commerce subsidiary, underwrote            Michaels, now a consultant on           Commission is a blatant example         raiser in New Jersey. In 2002, it          Supporters said expanding the        good government. I know it is
the first two municipal bonds the          government matters for several pri-     of pay-to-play and political and fi-    raised $1.6 million for Republicans     commission’s borrowing powers           good government.”
bridge commission issued with the          vate companies, including Com-          nancial back-scratching that has        throughout the state.                   would spur redevelopment and                So far, the county, nine munici-
new powers DiFrancesco granted.            merce Bancorp.                          become the norm,” says Harry                The man who headed the              lower the cost of issuing debt for      palities, and a sewage authority
Those deals had a combined pub-               Michaels said no discussions         Pozycki, executive director of          Burlington County Republican            individual      municipalities     in   have used the new bonding au-
lic debt of $134 million. As prime         about Commerce or any other             Common Cause New Jersey. “The           Committee from 1974 to 1990,            Burlington County, one of six New       thority to refinance old debt, fi-
underwriter on the first deal and          company the legislation might ben-      result, often hidden from the pub-      millionaire cranberry farmer J.         Jersey counties without its own lo-     nance new government buildings,
one of four underwriters on the            efit took place in the governor’s of-   lic, is more expensive and lower        Garfield DeMarco, has been chair-       cal improvement authority.              and buy police and fire equipment.
second, Commerce received a ma-            fice, and DiFrancesco’s conversa-       quality government services.”           man of the bridge commission               The bill got a big push from local   No private companies have yet
jority share of $642,500 in banking        tions with Commerce about join-            Even before DiFrancesco ex-          since 1989. The current chairman        officials. The bridge commission        publicly approached the commis-
fees.                                      ing the board of directors did not      panded its ability to borrow mon-       of the county Republicans is Glenn      paid a Trenton lobbying firm more       sion to obtain the low-cost financ-
   Taxpayers will be paying off            begin until after he left office.       ey, the Burlington County Bridge        Paulsen, one of DeMarco’s attor-        than $100,000 from tolls collected      ing it now offers for redevelopment
those fees with interest, plus                While DiFrancesco was in of-         Commission had a reputation as a        neys and a longtime legal and po-       at the Burlington-Bristol and           projects.
$350,000 in legal and miscella-            fice, he and his family received        Republican Party patronage mill.        litical adviser to DiFrancesco.         Tacony-Palmyra bridges. What                Paulsen, Bark, Michaels, and
neous processing costs, over the           substantial income and political        The three bridge commissioners              The bridge commission’s recent      never came up in legislative debate     George Nyikita, the bridge com-
next 20 years. Neither bond deal,          contributions from Commerce.            who annually approve millions of        transformation into a county im-        was that towns without county-          mission’s executive director, each
nor the professional work needed           The      corporation        employed    dollars in public contracts are ap-     provement authority began Oct. 3,       sponsored, pooled-debt financing,       denied that the intense effort to
to put them together, was put out          DiFrancesco’s wife as well as his       pointed by the county’s all-Repub-      2001, when state Sen. Martha W.         such as those in Burlington Coun-       pass the legislation was connected
to competitive bid, so there is no         law firm. Diane DiFrancesco is an       lican Board of Freeholders. The         Bark, R-Burlington, proposed “a         ty, already have access to a cost-ef-   to campaign contributions or the
way to know whether taxpayers              account executive at Commerce           freeholders, in turn, rely on funding   bill expanding the powers of a          fective borrowing program run by        fact that the measure would bene-
were unduly encumbered.                    Insurance Services.                     from the Burlington County Re-          county bridge commission.” Iden-        the New Jersey Economic Devel-          fit certain firms.Bark expressed sur-
   And there was nothing illegal                                                                                                                                                                           prise when told how much money
about DiFrancesco, while a public                                                                                                                                                                          private companies that benefited
official, making Commerce’s pay-                                                                                                                                                                           from her bill had given to Burling-
day possible, despite his current fi-
duciary position on Commerce’s
board. No New Jersey law pro-
                                           Ending ‘pay to play’ is easier said than legislated                                                                                                             ton County Republicans since
                                                                                                                                                                                                           1997: more than $225,000 from
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Commerce; more than $125,000
hibits a former lawmaker or a for-         By CLINT RILEY                          bills that includes legislators but     practice,” he says. “Tell me what       Camden County, $150,000 from            from Capehart & Scatchard; and
mer governor from immediately              STAFF WRITER                            leaves out municipalities.              the accepted practice is, and we        Middlesex County, and $110,000          at least $68,000 from Professional
working for a company or an or-                                                       Governor McGreevey dislikes          will follow it.”                        from Hudson County.                     Financial Management and its
ganization that can profit from leg-          Trenton has no shortage of pro-      both efforts, and promises to un-           The Senate bill, which passed          The Assembly bills would pro-        predecessor.
islation he or she sponsored, voted        posals to curb conflicts of interest    veil a tougher plan including leg-      36-0 in March, would limit cam-         hibit political donations from any          She also says she had no idea
upon, or signed at any time before         and end the widespread practice         islators and municipalities.            paign contributions from business-      entity doing business with the state    that on the same day she intro-
leaving office, with the exception of      of “pay to play,” in which contrac-        Reform advocates take a dim          es and professional service firms       or a county, but does not address       duced the bill, Commerce Ban-
casinos or associated businesses.          tors who make political contribu-       view of the entire effort, suggesting   that receive more than $17,500 a        local governments.                      corp’s political action committee,
   DiFrancesco was serving dual            tions — such as Commerce Ban-           the governor and the Legislature        year in work from the state, its au-       McGreevey’s proposal would           Compac NJ, sent a $1,000 check to
roles as state Senate president and        corp — can be rewarded with tax-        are merely floating progressive         thorities, counties, and municipal-     require lawmakers to reveal more        the Election Fund of Bark, Bodine,
acting governor as the bridge com-         payer-funded government work.           ideas in an election year, with no      ities. It would also limit the funds    about their business interests and      and Chatzidakis. In the next
mission measure moved through                 The problem is, no one quite         intention of passing any law that       that county political committees        prohibit lawmakers from seeking         month, Compac NJ sent an addi-
the Legislature. That meant he             agrees who should answer to the         would choke off the flow of cam-        may give to other counties, to no       government favors for people who        tional $11,200 to Bark’s political
could put the legislation to a vote        new rules.                              paign money from big contributors       more than $7,200 per election.          are clients of their private firms.     fund and the county Republican
and sign it into law.                         In March, the state Senate           such as Commerce Bancorp.                   The latter provision was in-        Lobbyists would have to report          committee.
   The Record called DiFrancesco           passed a Republican-sponsored              For his part, Commerce CEO           spired by last year’s race for          political donations, and any per-           “I guess I don’t pay much atten-
to ask about the legislation and his       bill that exempts legislators from      Vernon W. Hill II says he just          Bergen County executive, in which       son seeking to influence contracts,     tion to who sends the checks,”
move to Commerce. The call was             some provisions.                        wants a level playing field. “I want    the Bergen County Democratic            executive orders, and permits           Bark says. “I guess I should read
returned by Jeffrey T. Michaels,              Assembly Democrats countered         a clear set of rules so that every-     Organization received $187,000 in       would be required to register as a      the [campaign finance] reports, but
DiFrancesco’s former chief of staff.       by introducing a package of 10          body understands the accepted           donations from Democrats in             lobbyist.                               I would prefer not to know.”
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                 THE RECORD 17




                                                            F R I E N D            O F       T H E        P E O P L E              I T     S E R V E S
                                                                                      www.northjersey.com



                                                                                  Published Saturday, June 7, 2003




          McGreevey aide steps down
          Top fund-raiser had a troubled past
          By JEFF PILLETS                                     “Roger is very good — very, very good — at
          TRENTON BUREAU                                   winning the sympathies and support of peo-
                                                           ple he then takes advantage of,” Sabharwal
             Rajesh “Roger” Chugh, a top fund-raiser said. “There are a lot of people who feel be-
          for Governor McGreevey and the third-rank- trayed.”
          ing official in the New Jersey Department of
          State, resigned Friday after administration of- A trail of debt
          ficials became aware of details about his trou-     An examination of Chugh’s financial back-
          bled past as a businessman.                      ground reveals a troubled history as a busi-
             Chugh’s decision to step down comes four nessman.
          days after a reporter from The Record con-          In addition to the debts incurred by the
          fronted the McGreevey administration with collapse of his travel agency, Chugh has left
          federal court documents describing how a trail of unpaid bills and angry creditors, in-
          Chugh was booted from the travel industry in cluding banks, casinos, hotels, credit card
          the mid-1990s for writing $50,000 in bad companies, and print suppliers.
          checks and sticking Air India and other car-        Court documents reviewed by The Record
          riers with $319,000 in losses.                   show Chugh and his various companies gen-
             Chugh, who canceled a pre-arranged in- erated almost $361,000 in court judgments,
          terview with The Record this week at the be- tax liens, and other legal claims over the last
          hest of top administration officials, could not decade. New York City marshals posted no-
          be reached for comment Friday. He released tices in The New York Times to sell off
          a copy of a resignation letter that he submit- Chugh’s office furnishings to satisfy debts he
          ted to Secretary of State Regena Thomas and owed to Federal Express.
          a separate statement that made no reference         Chugh’s fledgling printing business in Mid-
          to his business dealings.                        dlesex County collapsed when creditors
             “As has been my intention for some time, seized his presses. A company that leased
          I have decided to tender my resignation,” the him printing equipment won a $43,000 judg-
          statement said. “Recognizing the politics of ment against him in 2001, and just three
          public service, I would never do anything to months ago, a businessman filed court papers
          cast a negative perception upon myself, the claiming Chugh never repaid $125,000 he
          department for which I proudly serve, nor borrowed to start the printing business.
          this administration.”                               Chugh, 48, was born and raised in New
             In his letter, Chugh said he had intended Delhi before coming to the United States in
          to serve only one year as the assistant com- 1974. He says he worked as an accountant,
          missioner, a position in which he oversaw the cabdriver, manufacturing executive, and
          ethnic outreach efforts for the administration. restaurateur before he started his travel
          Chugh held the $85,000-a-year position since agency, Landmark Travel, in Queens and
          McGreevey took office in January 2001.           Manhattan in 1987, according to his official
             But Micah Rasmussen, an administration biography.
          spokesman, acknowledged that Chugh had              But Chugh’s biography made no mention
          offered to resign Wednesday after adminis- of Chugh losing his accreditation as a travel
          tration officials discussed the travel agency’s agent or the bad checks and hundreds of
          problems with him. Rasmussen said Chugh thousands of dollars that Air India says he
          offered to resign when told that he might cost it.
          cause a “perception” problem for the gover-         Signs of the imminent collapse of Land-
          nor and himself.                                 mark Travel first surfaced on Aug. 2, 1994, in
             Rasmussen said Chugh did not discuss his a flurry of telex traffic among Air India exec-
          plans to resign with the governor.               utives in Bombay and New York. The telex-
             Chugh’s resignation is the latest in a series es were submitted as evidence in a federal
          of appointments that have gone bad for the employee discrimination lawsuit, filed in
          governor.                                        Manhattan by a former Air India employee.
             His first superintendent of state police,        In the lawsuit, former Air India employee
          Joseph Santiago, was forced to quit in Octo- Edward Macedo alleges that he was unfairly
          ber amid mounting questions about his ethics blamed for Landmark’s collapse. Also in-
          and allegations that he was friendly with cluded as evidence are internal Air India doc-                                                                             BETH BALBIERZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
          mobsters. The governor reassigned homeland uments, including the results of an internal
          security adviser Golan Cipel after The company investigation of Landmark and                         Rajesh “Roger” Chugh, a top fund-raiser for Governor McGreevey and third-ranking official in
          Record reported that the Israeli native did Chugh.                                                   the New Jersey Department of State, quit after administration officials learned about his trou-
          not have clearance to handle classified infor-      The first batch of telexes alerted top Air In-   bled past as a businessman.
          mation. Cipel later resigned.                    dia officials in Bombay that the Airlines Re-
             And developer Charles Kushner, Mc- porting Corp. — an industry-owned agency                       $4 million in monthly sales before the de-          Drew FBI’s attention
          Greevey’s top fund-raiser, resigned from the that certifies and oversees travel agents — was         fault.                                                 It is not known whether Air India took
          Port Authority in February amid questions declaring Chugh’s company in default.                         Air India flew a team of investigators to        any further action against Chugh. Air India
          about his fund-raising and business dealings.       Chugh had been selling plane tickets on          New York after the default, and they uncov-         did not return repeated calls for comment.
                                                           several airlines without forwarding the pro-        ered irregularities and lapses dating back two         But letters between Air India officials and
          An early warning                                 ceeds to the carriers, the telexes said. Airlines   years earlier.                                      their Washington, D.C., law firm show the
             Prominent members of New Jersey’s Asian Reporting Corp. officials were so alarmed                    Chugh had been selling tickets from unau-        problems attracted the attention of the FBI.
          Indian population said they had warned Mc- that they immediately sent representatives to             thorized locations, selling more tickets than          In a June 1, 1995, letter, under the heading
          Greevey — when he was mayor of Wood- Chugh’s offices in Manhattan and Queens to                      he had been allotted, and selling unautho-          “Air India Ltd-Landmark Investigation,” at-
          bridge and after he became governor — that seize advance ticket stocks and ticket-en-                rized tickets at unauthorized prices, accord-       torney Marshal Sinick informed Air India
          Chugh might cause him problems. Chugh dorsing equipment.                                             ing to court documents.                             Regional Director Neela Talcherkar that he
          was a paid political adviser to McGreevey           Several days later, Chugh offered Air India         Chugh, the investigators found, was also         had complied with an FBI request for infor-
          during his mayoralty, and an important fund- two personal checks for $25,000 each to cov-            doctoring monthly sales reports and selling         mation on Landmark.
          raiser since 1997.                               er his debts, post-dated Aug. 4 and Aug. 11         tickets out of sequence to make it harder for          “I wanted to report to you that the FBI
             “Why he remains in office is a mystery to and drawn on Landmark Travel’s account at               the airline to trace irregularities.                agent assigned to this investigation called to
          us all,” Pradip “Peter” Kothari, president of Habib American Bank in Queens, court doc-                 The investigators discovered that at least       thank us for our, to use his words, ‘complete
          the Indian Business Association in Middlesex uments say. According to the court papers,              one other airline had already severed its re-       documentation,’ accompanying road map,
          County, said of Chugh last week.                 he repeatedly assured the airline the checks        lationship with Chugh. In March 1993, Gulf          and list of former Landmark employees,”
             Kothari was once an avid McGreevey would clear and that he would soon remit the                   Air, an Arab-owned airline that serves the          Sinick wrote.
          backer who even traveled to India with the remaining sale proceeds.                                  Middle East, southeast Asia, Africa, and Eu-           Sinick declined last month to discuss the
          then-Woodbridge mayor. He said he had               Both checks came back marked “insuffi-           rope, withdrew its ticket stock from Land-          collapse of Chugh’s travel agency and its con-
          spoken at length with McGreevey in 2001 cient funds,” according to the court records.                mark Travel because of what Air India de-           nection to Air India with The Record.
          about Chugh, complaining that many local A few days later, Air India cashed in a                     scribed as “serious lapses committed by the            Two weeks after the Sinick letter, Brian J.
          Indian-Americans were troubled by Chugh’s $100,000 letter of credit Chugh was required               agent.”                                             McHugh, another attorney in Sinick’s firm,
          growing influence.                               to deposit when he became an official agent            The Air India report scolded company em-         wrote to FBI Agent Steven A. Cocco to pro-
             “I think Mr. McGreevey well understood for the airline in 1992.                                   ployees for not recognizing warning signs           vide Chugh’s address, then in suburban Pel-
          the reservations many of us have with Roger,        In the court documents, airline officials tal-   that Chugh may have been diverting airline          ham, N.Y.
          especially the way he controls access to offi- lied the net losses for Air India and other car-      funds to finance other businesses. It noted            “We are still trying to determine how
          cials and the government,” Kothari said.         riers at more than $319,000. Air India’s share      that Chugh had recently opened a pizza shop         many of the travel documents for which
             Other leading Indian-Americans in New came to $261,000, which was offset when                     and a printing press in Queens and had even         Chugh misappropriated the sales proceeds
          Jersey and New York have said they were they cashiered the $100,000 bank letter.                     invited Air India officials to the latter’s grand   were used for Air India flights,” McHugh
          shocked by Chugh’s rapid rise in political cir-     Alan Muten, a spokesman for the Airlines         opening.                                            wrote to Cocco.
          cles. They said his prominence in the Mc- Reporting Corp., confirmed the amount in a                    “These ventures on the part of the Mr.              Last week, Cocco did not answer several
          Greevey administration was an embarrass- recent interview and said Landmark was                      Chugh ... probably by diverting his funds           phone messages, and an assistant in his office
          ment to their community.                         stripped of its accreditation, ending Chugh’s       from travel business, could have aroused rea-       said it was unlikely that he would be able to
             P. Singh Sabharwal, a New York City de- tenure in the travel business.                            sonable doubts regarding the financial stabil-      comment on the case.
          veloper who has built shopping malls in                                                              ity of his travel business,” said the report,          In addition, a document search turned up
          Queens and elsewhere, says he helped intro- ‘Million Dollar Agent’                                   written by Ravi Sinha, the airline’s senior vig-    no public record of an indictment or criminal
          duce Chugh to McGreevey in the mid-1990s            The collapse of Chugh’s travel agency was        ilance officer.                                     complaint lodged against Chugh stemming
          and was instrumental in getting Chugh a paid a corporate embarrassment for Air India,                   The report concluded there was “prima fa-        from Landmark Travel.
          position with the mayor’s political action which had honored Chugh as a “Million                     cie” evidence that three Air India employees
          committee. Now he regards Chugh as “a sad, Dollar Agent.” Airline tallies show Land-                 “conspired together” with Chugh to defraud          Staff Writers Josh Gohlke and Charles Stile
          sad story.”                                      mark Travel was averaging $2.6 million to           Air India.                                          contributed to this article.
18 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                     JANUARY 2005




                                                 F R I E N D           O F      T H E       P E O P L E           I T     S E R V E S
                                                                         www.northjersey.com




                                                                      Published Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003




                                                       MONEY, POLITICS & POWER

                           McGreevey’s man
                            in Little India
                       How ex-cabby ‘Roger’ Chugh used threats and promises
                          of political favors to raise big bucks for his boss
                By JEFF PILLETS and CLINT RILEY                                                                            the 55,000 Indians living in Middlesex County. Lat-
                STAFF WRITERS                                                                                              er, as governor, McGreevey rewarded Chugh with a
                                                                                                                           high-level state job.
                   Jim McGreevey sat by as one of his top fund-rais-                                                          Interviews with more than 50 Indian business
                ers, a fast-talking ex-cabby named Rajesh “Roger’’                                                         owners and Democratic officials, coupled with a re-
                Chugh, cut a swath of suspicion and fear in New                                                            view of state and local records, show how Chugh —
                Jersey’s Asian Indian community while raising an                                                           a 49-year-old Punjabi émigré and former errand boy
                estimated $1 million for the future governor.                                                              — leveraged his friendship with Jim McGreevey to
                   Key Democrats and prominent Indians say they                                                            intimidate the immigrant community and become
                repeatedly warned McGreevey, then the mayor of                                                             the virtual lord of Little India.
                Woodbridge, that Chugh was a widely reviled ma-                                                               The Record has learned that:
                nipulator with a long history of preying on his fel-                                                          ä Chugh attempted to extract campaign contri-
                low South Asian immigrants — in the township and                                                           butions from business owners who had been cited
                elsewhere.                                                                                                 for code violations or were seeking zoning vari-
                   In all, six individuals interviewed by The Record                                                       ances. During McGreevey’s tenure as mayor, busi-
                said they expressed their concerns about Chugh to                                                          ness owners who called Woodbridge town hall with
                McGreevey or to state party officials as long ago as                                                       complaints or questions about code enforcement
                1997. Among those who issued the warnings were a                                                           said they often received visits soon after from
                vice chairman of the Democratic State Committee,                                                           Chugh. One woman who had been cited for erect-
                a Democratic congressional candidate, and the                                                              ing an illegal wall in her store said Chugh came by
                head of the nation’s leading Asian Indian group.                                                           the same day and told her he would “take care” of
                   “I told Jim that this Chugh had done many                                                               the problem for a $3,000 contribution.
                wrongs to our people, that he should not be held up A private snapshot of fund-raiser Roger Chugh with        ä Chugh offered illusory appointments in a future
                as the personal representative of a man who wants     Governor McGreevey.                                  McGreevey administration to wealthy members of
                to be governor,’’ said Ramesh Patel, president of the                                                      the Indian community in exchange for political
                National Federation of Indian Associations, who       Chugh to a $10,000-a-month consulting position       contributions. Prominent community members said
                cornered McGreevey during a 1997 fund-raiser.         with the state committee and pronounced Chugh        Chugh enticed prospective contributors with offers
                “McGreevey just nodded and said he would take         “the captain of the community’’ in the Little India  of everything from Wall Street job interviews to
                care of it.”                                          section of Woodbridge, a square-mile cluster of sari judgeships.
                   Despite the warnings, McGreevey promoted           stores, sweet shops, and gold dealers that cater to                                    See CHUGH Page 19


                           Roger Chugh assisted developer Vinod Kalra in securing
                           approvals for the Mahatma Gandhi Plaza in Woodbridge,
                           below, while Jim McGreevey was mayor. Within three
                           months of the project's approval, Kalra, his real estate
                           company, and a business run by Chugh contributed
                           $60,000 to the Democratic State Committee, which helped
                           McGreevey win the 2001 gubernatorial election.

                                                                                                                                    Rajesh Dharia, above,
                                                                                                                                    once ran a shop at
                                                                                                                                    Gandhi Plaza. He says
                                                                                                                                    of Chugh: “I knew he
                                                                                                                                    was Kalra's right-hand
                                                                                                                                    man, I knew the game
                                                                                                                                    he was playing with all
                                                                                                                                    the tenants — I
                                                                                                                                    wouldn't even look at
                                                                                                                                    him — I was furious
                                                                                                                                    that this guy would
                                                                                           STAFF PHOTOS BY CHRIS PEDOTA             even show his face.”
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                            THE RECORD 19


                                                                                          Published Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003



Indians unsure whether to trust political system
                                                                                                                       North Brunswick, host of the            tional Asian-American political ac-      also are among the nation’s most
Leaders say potential                                                                                                  country’s largest syndicated week-
                                                                                                                       ly South Asian radio talk show.
                                                                                                                       “It’s hurt our community in the
                                                                                                                                                               tion groups have fought to force
                                                                                                                                                               both political parties to pay atten-
                                                                                                                                                               tion to their issues and concerns,
                                                                                                                                                                                                        recent immigrants and are hesitant
                                                                                                                                                                                                        to become involved in the political
                                                                                                                                                                                                        process.
to wield power exists                                                                                                  long-term. It’s tainted everyone
                                                                                                                       who is legit.”
                                                                                                                           Chugh’s departure is the latest
                                                                                                                                                               not just their wallets, if the politi-
                                                                                                                                                               cians want their votes.
                                                                                                                                                                   Other groups, such as the Indi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cy Thannikary, a Freehold resi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                        dent who served as the highest-
                                                                                                                                                                                                        ranking Indian official in former
By CLINT RILEY                          that politicians, exalted as celebri-                                          public relations setback for the        an-American Leadership Initiative,       Gov. Christie Whitman’s adminis-
and JEFF PILLETS                        ties in the Indian community, can                                              wider Asian-American community,         have tried to identify potential po-     tration, said his community’s un-
STAFF WRITERS                           provide a path to personal promi-                                              which was already scarred by the        litical leaders in their community       willingness to get involved in poli-
                                        nence in the United States. Others                                             high profile campaign finance           and support them for public office.      tics can be maddening.
     Hanging inside the homes and       just want to rub elbows with polit-                                            scandals of the 1990s involving         Many accomplished Indians have               “If we acted together, as a uni-
businesses of some of the South         ical celebrities and are willing to                                            John Huang, a controversial Chi-        shied away from entering politics        fied voting bloc, we would have a
Asian Indians who have pumped           pay for the privilege.                                                         nese-American who illegally fun-        or government policy work be-            lot of clout,’’ Thannikary said. “But
millions of dollars into the cam-           Yet there also remains a cultural                                          neled contributions into the na-        cause traditional Indian culture         it is very hard to convince Indians
paigns of New Jersey politicians are    disdain of politics and a distrust of                                          tional Democratic Party, and later      grants more prestige and re-             that the political process can actu-
the meager spoils of their generos-     authorities shaped by experience in                                            by David Chang, a Korean nation-        spectability to jobs in medicine or      ally help their lives. In India, peo-
ity.                                    India, where government officials                                              al from Cresskill, who was a central    computer science.                        ple do their best to avoid govern-
   A photograph of a donor with a       are often viewed as corrupt ward                                               figure in the fund-raising investiga-       “In the past 10 years, our par-      ment authorities.’’Not only do they
smiling Bill and Hillary Clinton. A     heelers who help only those who                                                tion of former U.S. Sen. Robert G.      ents’ generation has started paying      not vote, observers say, Indian-
newspaper clipping listing names        pay in cash. As a result, many In-                                             Torricelli.                             more attention to the political          Americans often do not demand
of politicians who attended an In-      dian immigrants shun public life,                                                  Those scandals erupted, in part,    process, but they have frankly been      anything for the community in ex-
dian festival. Proclamations ex-        preferring to deal with officials                                              after leaders from both parties rec-    outsiders looking in. As a result, for   change for the large amounts of
tolling a donor’s deeds, signed by      through back channels.                  age of himself as the Indian com-      ognized Asian-Americans, includ-        many, the only way they have             money they contribute to political
Governor McGreevey or some                  “As a rule, the Indian communi-     munity’s middleman who would           ing the South Asian Indians, as a       known to get involved is to write a      campaigns. Those who win access
other well-known leader.                ty does not get involved and go into    solve their problems with minimal      rapidly growing and plentiful sup-      check,” said Raj Kumar, a second-        to political decision-makers often
   “Indians love pictures and           politics because of the way it works    involvement or interference from       ply of campaign cash.                   generation Indian-American who           are satisfied with token recognition
proclamations,” said Paul R. Rajan,     in India,” said Rita Mehta, the         authorities they so distrust.              In New Jersey the South Asian       has served as both a McGreevey           or individual favors that may ben-
an Iselin attorney and Democratic       owner of a Middlesex County                 But Chugh’s repeated broken        Indian population has doubled           campaign adviser and a member of         efit them or their immediate fami-
contributor. “They love the picture-    check-cashing business.                 promises became a source of em-        over the last decade, to 170,000.       President Bill Clinton’s advance         ly personally.
taking opportunity, and they don’t          Into this cultural divide stepped   barrassment. Many prominent            Census figures show they are well-      team.                                        As a result, many important is-
mind contributing money.”               Rajesh “Roger” Chugh, a former          New Jersey Indians, frustrated with    educated and increasingly affluent          “It is now the second generation     sues that affect the Asian Indian
   Those glossy group photos, how-      New Jersey Department of State of-      his failure to deliver, came to view   — the median South Asian Indian         of Indian-Americans that feel more       community — immigration, racial
ever, belie a deep ambivalence          ficial and one of McGreevey’s top       Chugh as a political charlatan, who    household income is $76,000,            plugged-in to the way politics           discrimination, pockets of hidden
within the Indian community             fund-raisers. Chugh was forced to       used his post for personal and po-     which exceeds the state’s median        works and are actively participat-       poverty — have not become part of
about the American political sys-       leave the administration in June af-    litical gain.                          income by more than $19,000.            ing at all levels of government and      the political debate.
tem.                                    ter The Record presented details of         Some leading voices are relieved       “Here is a group that has           politics,” Kumar said.                       “Our community needs to de-
   On the one hand, they are a rap-     his troubled past as a businessman.     that Chugh stepped down from his       achieved economic parity in this            But many barriers to true politi-    mand more and I don’t think that
idly growing, affluent, and ambi-           Chugh, a savvy political opera-     post at State, where he served as      county, but not parity in other ar-     cal empowerment remain. South            is happening,” Srivatsa said.
tious population capable of throw-      tive who became a trusted inner-        McGreevey’s liaison to the entire      eas,” said S. Mitra Kalita, author of   Asian Indians, much like Asian-              “Many of those who are emerg-
ing lavish fund-raisers for politi-     circle confidant of McGreevey,          Asian community.                       “Suburban Sahibs,” a soon-to-be         Americans in general, are from           ing as [political] leaders are doing
cians, headlined by India’s most        tapped scores of wealthy and am-            “It’s sad you have someone like    published account of three Indian-      many different cultures, speak           so by default,” Srivatsa added. “The
popular “Bollywood” movie stars.        bitious Indian donors eager for po-     Roger Chugh representing us to         American families from Middlesex        many different languages, and tend       problem is everyone wants to be
Increasing numbers of business          litical access and recognition. He      those outside of the Indian com-       County.                                 not to vote as a bloc like African-      king instead of remaining king-
and community leaders recognize         did so by presenting an inflated im-    munity,” said Anil Srivatsa of             In the wake of the scandals, na-    Americans or Hispanics. Asians           makers.”



Chugh: McGreevey connection equals power in Little India
From Page 18                                                                                                                                                                                                A hard worker
    ä During the 2001 gubernatori-
al campaign, the Democratic State
                                                                                                                                                                                                          and a smooth talker
Committee temporarily suspended                                                                                                                                                                            From the beginning, Chugh was
Chugh to investigate his fund-rais-                                                                                                                                                                     something of an enigma to Mc-
ing practices and business back-                                                                                                                                                                        Greevey campaign staffers and the
ground. Two key staffers at the                                                                                                                                                                         regulars in the state Democratic
committee who spoke on condi-                                                                                                                                                                           organization.
tion of anonymity said that about                                                                                                                                                                          Tom Giblin, who was chairman
one-third of all contributions                                                                                                                                                                          of the Democratic State Commit-
raised by Chugh were rejected by                                                                                                                                                                        tee in 1997, said he had little inter-
the committee because they were                                                                                                                                                                         action with Chugh and was not
considered “irregular or illegal.”                                                                                                                                                                      even sure who hired him. Giblin
    ä As Chugh pressed business-                                                                                                                                                                        said Chugh claimed to have a lot of
men for political contributions, he                                                                                                                                                                     high-level contacts in the Indian
was pursuing his own business in-                                                                                                                                                                       community as well as a tight rela-
terests. Documents in Woodbridge                                                                                                                                                                        tionship with President Bill Clin-
town hall show that Chugh had an                                                                                                                                                                        ton.
interest in an Oak Tree Road strip                                                                                                                                                                         Doug Heyl, McGreevey’s cam-
mall that was built in 2000 after re-                                                                                                                                                                   paign manager in 1997, said he
ceiving crucial zoning variances                                                                                                                                                                        had no idea that McGreevey had
from township planners. Chugh                                                                                                                                                                           hired Chugh and rarely saw him at
and his associate in the strip mall                                                                                                                                                                     Woodbridge campaign headquar-
wrote $60,000 in checks to the De-                                                                                                                                                                      ters.
mocratic State Committee within                                                                                                                                                                            “I don’t remember him ever
10 weeks of the project’s approval.                                                                                                                                                                     having a desk, a phone, or being
    In June, Chugh resigned from                                                                                                                                                                        on the payroll,” Heyl said. “He was
his job as an assistant commis-                                                                                                                                                                         never in any meeting I was in.”
sioner in the New Jersey Depart-                                                                                                                                                                           Chugh worked hard to impress
ment of State. He quit less than a                                                                                                                                                                      his new Democratic bosses and
week after The Record ap-                                                                                                                                                                               soon had a reputation for being
proached the McGreevey admin-                                                                                                                                                                           fiercely loyal to Gary Taffet, Paul
istration with documents showing                                                                                                                                                                        Levinsohn, and others close to
that he had been booted from the                                                                                                                                                                        McGreevey. Members of the Indi-
travel industry after his agency                                                                                                                                                                        an community, as well as Democ-
wrote $50,000 in bad checks and                                                                                                                                                                         rats who worked with him, said
stuck Air India and other carriers                                                                                                                                   STAFF PHOTOS BY CHRIS PEDOTA       the smooth-talking Chugh had an
with $319,000 in losses. Other          Oak Tree Road, center of the Indian community in the Iselin section of Woodbridge, serves as home for hundreds of businesses.                                   uncanny ability to show up where
documents showed that Chugh                                                                                                                                                                             the rich and powerful were meet-
and his companies were the target       munity’s faith in McGreevey and                                                                                        Bronx, was working as a courier          ing.
of $361,000 in tax liens, court judg-   in an American political system                                                                                        and personal assistant to P. Singh          Acquaintances said Chugh
ments, and other legal claims over      they once admired from afar.                                                                                           Sabharwal, a prominent New               would insist on introducing him-
the past decade. In the mid-1990s,         Chugh’s critics argue that, by                                                                                      York developer and founder of the        self with deep bows and flamboy-
Chugh’s business dealings in the        playing on the Indian community’s                                                                                      now-defunct Indian publication           ant gestures of greeting, addressing
travel industry came under review       well-known fault lines — its craving                                                                                   Asia Online.                             his fellow Indians as “my dear,
by the FBI.                             for status, its lack of cohesiveness,                                                                                     “He was suffering. He repented        dear brother’’ or “dearest sister.’’
    Kathy Ellis, the governor’s di-     and its suspicion of government                                                                                        before me and he wanted to be a          Sometimes, he would even fall to
rector of communications, said at       authority — he drove Little India                                                                                      good person,” said Sabharwal, a          his knees before fellow immigrants
the time of Chugh’s resignation         apart and denied it the strong new                                                                                     devoted Hindu who said he decid-         and gently place his fingers on
that the governor had no knowl-         voice McGreevey had promised.                                                                                          ed to hire Chugh as an act of char-      their feet — an ancient posture of
edge of Chugh’s troubled history or        For the governor, who has                                                                                           ity. “I believe everyone deserves a      supplication known in Hindi as
of the FBI review. “If the governor     plummeted to record lows in pub-                                                                                       second chance.”                          “pair panda.”
knew that Roger had done any-           lic-opinion polls, revelations about                                                                                      Chugh proved to be a good go-            “Flamboyance was his special-
thing illegal, or even anything un-     Chugh only reinforce a growing                                                                                         fer for Sabharwal, but soon he was       ty,’’ said Jagdish Patel, a Colonia
ethical, he would have acted,’’ El-     perception that he showed stun-                                                                                        begging for more work.                   resident who is president of the
lis said in a June 3 interview.         ningly poor judgment in selecting                                                                                         So Sabharwal, who had already         Federation of Indian Associations.
    Neither Chugh nor his attorney      his friends and political allies. Mc-                                                                                  hosted two fund-raisers for Mc-          “It was his special way of ingratiat-
responded to requests for inter-        Greevey’s 20 months as governor                                                                                        Greevey’s spring 1997 primary            ing himself, of showing that he was
views. Chugh has told community         have been marked by repeated eth-       Chand Kewalramani is suing Rajesh “Roger” Chugh to recover                     campaign, took Chugh to New Jer-         a good servant, and it worked.’’
members he is seeking a job with        ical embarrassments, failed ap-         $120,000 in debt.                                                              sey to meet the mayor of Wood-           Chugh was quick to lavish gifts on
the national Democratic Party.          pointments, and controversial res-                                                                                     bridge at the King Chef’s Chinese        fellow Indians and treat them to
    McGreevey declined to be in-        ignations from his inner circle. Two       “All of us have a question: Why         Meeting changes                     restaurant in the Iselin section of      dinner. Woodbridge Township
terviewed. In an interview last         of those who quit are now under         this character?” said Rita Mehta, a                                            the township.                            employees say he often sent lavish
week, Ellis and press secretary         investigation by the FBI for busi-      South River shopkeeper. “Why               Roger Chugh’s life                     Both Sabharwal and another            bouquets to McGreevey’s secre-
Micah Rasmussen said they did           ness deals made in the weeks be-        was this guy ever representing the        At the time he met Woodbridge        prominent Indian who was at the          tary. They say he was particularly
not know enough about Chugh to          fore McGreevey came into office.        Indian community? The governor         Mayor Jim McGreevey in the sum-         meeting, Middlesex County com-           attentive to Taffet’s mother, Mari-
address specific questions.                The furor over Chugh mirrors         could have done so much better.”       mer of 1997, Roger Chugh’s life         modities trader Arbinder Sahni,          lyn, who is a township employee
    “I don’t think we do have the       other McGreevey administration             Kiran Desai, an accountant and      was at a low point.                     said they later told McGreevey that      and served as treasurer of Mc-
answers,’’ said Ellis. “And I’m not     controversies that find their roots     the vice chairman of the Democ-           Only three years earlier,            Chugh was an enterprising go-get-        Greevey’s mayoral campaigns.
sure what we gain by sitting the        in the quest for campaign dollars       ratic State Committee, said every-     Chugh’s once-booming travel             ter who had to be watched very
governor down to answer the             and the governor’s dealings with        one — including the governor and       agencies in Queens and Manhat-          carefully because of his prior fi-        A reliable money man
questions.’’ Rasmussen acknowl-         the political power brokers who         other top party leaders — knew         tan were forced to close after air-     nancial problems.                         for Democratic Party
edged that Chugh’s aggressive style     helped him get elected. Top De-         about Chugh’s troubled history in      lines discovered he was manipu-            “I warned him at every stage,”
had stirred up a lot of detractors.     mocrats say Chugh brought in so         New York and track record of bro-      lating his books and pocketing the      said Sahni, one of McGreevey’s              Chugh’s efforts paid off. Less
But he insisted that Chugh has an       much money McGreevey felt he            ken promises in New Jersey. Desai      proceeds from ticket sales. Inves-      oldest friends in the Indian com-        than two months after his arrival,
equal number of supporters, in-         had no choice but to award him a        said he warned McGreevey about         tigators from Air India later con-      munity.                                  he had already staged three fund-
cluding many who feel he helped         job in the administration.              Chugh.                                 cluded that Chugh was probably             “Jim McGreevey knew exactly           raisers that netted $110,000 for
give Asians access to Trenton, es-         “He’s got this crazy loyalty thing      “Chugh had long been persona        diverting money to other ventures,      the kind of man he was getting,          McGreevey and the Democrats.
pecially in his outreach role at the    and sometimes it gets him into          non grata among the Indians,’’ said    according to federal court docu-        and he seemed comfortable with           He cultivated friendships with suc-
State Department.                       trouble,’’ said one member of the       Desai, but some within the party,      ments.                                  that.”                                   cessful Indian businessmen on
    “Some felt Roger was providing      McGreevey team.                         including McGreevey, “thought he          That same year, Chugh had               Four days later, Chugh became         both sides of the Hudson.
an outlet to people who would not          For Indians, McGreevey’s moti-       was a god.’’ “It was a situation of,   sought bankruptcy protection for        a paid staffer with Democratic Fi-          H.R. Shah, an owner of the
otherwise have access to the polit-     vation in selecting Chugh as the        well, if this is what the governor     one of those ventures, a Long Is-       nance ’97, the joint fund-raising        Krauszers mini-mart chain and the
ical process,” Rasmussen said.          gatekeeper for their traditionally      wants, we can hold our nose and        land print shop called Chugh            arm of the New Jersey Democratic         Edison-based TV Asia television
    Many South Asian immigrants         Democratic community remains            go along with it,’’ Desai said. “But   Printers.                               State Committee and the Jim Mc-          network, became a close friend
say their experience with Chugh         nothing less than a complete mys-       why McGreevey wanted it, I’ll nev-        By 1996, Chugh, a former cabby       Greevey for Governor organiza-           and generous contributor, giving
has deeply undermined the com-          tery.                                   er know.’’                             who had hustled fares in the            tion.                                         See FUND-RAISER Page 20
20 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                               JANUARY 2005


                                                                                        Published Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003




                                                                                                                     CHRIS PEDOTA/0STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Indian fashions on display at a store in the Iselin section of Woodbridge. Little India caters to the 55,000 Indians living in Middlesex County.



Fund-raiser: Makes a scene at Gore visit
From Page 19                            daughter,” he said.                   tivist who was involved in many        in the fall of 2000 on the same day
more than $20,000 to McGreevey             Soon, Democratic staffers were     campaigns for several years, but if    a Woodbridge building inspector
and the Democrats between 1997          privately referring to Chugh as       he was going around making             cited her for erecting an illegal
and 2001.                               “McGreevey’s money machine.’’         promises for job interviews he was     glass wall inside her establishment.
   Another friend was Albert            Party officials said Chugh and the    just     lying,”    said   Corzine        “Within a few hours of the in-
Jasani, an uneducated immigrant         future governor grew very close       spokesman David Wald.                  spector being in here, this Chugh
who grew wealthy hosting lavish         and often traveled together to           Dr. Arvind Kumar, a widely re-      comes in and says he can take care
Indian weddings at his Royal Al-        events in New Jersey and New          spected South Plainfield oncologist    of everything,’’ said Pollepalli. “He
bert Palace in the Fords section of     York, including several affairs       who gave nearly $19,000 to Mc-         said the cost would be $3,000.”
Woodbridge. Jasani’s banquet hall       staged by the Indian community in     Greevey and state Democrats be-           Pollepalli said Chugh told her
became a favorite gathering place       Manhattan and Long Island.            tween 1997 and 2001, said Chugh        that the money would be used “for
for Middlesex County Democrats                                                caused havoc at a July 2000 fund-      a political contribution.” She said
and a staging ground for Chugh’s         Chugh’s image begins                 raiser at his Scotch Plains home.      she wrote out a $3,000 check and
fund-raising forays.                     to show some cracks                  The event, in honor of Vice Presi-     handed it to Chugh, although she
   Chugh became one of the par-                                               dent Al Gore, had been scheduled       could not recall whom Chugh
ty’s most reliable money men in            But even as his ties with Mc-      for an Edison television studio        asked her to make the payee of the         “There was a big fight with the           says he was a close friend to
both the 1997 and 2001 elections.       Greevey grew stronger, Chugh was      owned by Chugh confidant and           check.                                  landlord,’’ said Kotak, who said he          Chugh and liked to dine with him
A $750-a-head floating fund-raiser      alienating members of the Indian      McGreevey contributor H.R.                State campaign contribution          witnessed the confrontation.                 and walk around the marketplace
for McGreevey on the Hudson             community, who came to see him        Shah. It was moved to Kumar’s          records show that McGreevey’s           “Chugh said we had to give money             talking politics, a fact confirmed by
River took in more than $50,000         as a bully and braggart. His fellow   back yard when Gore’s advance          primary election campaign re-           to the Democrats if we wanted the            dozens of business owners who
for the 1997 campaign. More than        immigrants say Chugh often made       team discovered Shah owed the          ceived a $2,100 check in the name       expansion. But the landlord want-            said the pair were frequently seen
1,200 Democrats paid from $500          promises to wealthy contributors      government more than $1 million        of Pollepalli’s store on Dec. 20,       ed nothing to do with it. He                 together.
to $1,000 to attend a Woodbridge        and other community members,          in back taxes.                         2000. A week later Pollepalli was       screamed at Chugh and ran him                   He denied any knowledge of
event last year that netted             but rarely followed through.             Chugh, who played no role in        granted a permit for the wall,          out of the store.’’ Kotak recalled           Chugh pressuring business owners
$100,000 for state Democrats.              Paul Rajan, a Democratic attor-    the fund-raiser, barged in and in-     records show, even though she           that as Chugh left the store, he             to sell or make political donations.
   The event’s honoree, Democra-        ney and fund-raiser who helped        sisted that he be allowed to place a   had yet to pay a $250 fine that         threatened that “it would be 100             “I do know he collected money,
tic National Committee Chairman         found the Asian Indian Chamber        ceremonial garland around the          came with the citation. The fine        million years’’ before the township          but I never heard of shaking down
Terry McAuliffe, sparked an ova-        of Commerce in Iselin, said Chugh     vice president’s neck. Chugh was       was paid the following April.           granted any approval to expand               anybody,’’ Kalra said.
tion with the words “Let’s hear it      floated rumors that Indians would     so obnoxious, Kumar said, that the        Pollepalli, like many of her fel-    the store. An application seeking a             Kalra also denied being partners
for Roger Chugh.’’ But members of       receive judgeships from the Mc-       garlanding ceremony was moved          low immigrants along Oak Tree           variance that would have cleared             with Chugh. “We had no business
the Indian community say Chugh          Greevey administration and that       inside his house so Chugh could be     Road, was reluctant to talk about       the way for the expansion was de-            interests together,’’ Kalra said.
was at his best in intimate fund-       Rajan’s name was on a list of fu-     shut out. “Roger angered many          the incident because she said she       nied, Kotak said. Woodbridge                    But Woodbridge records show
raisers, small klatches of five to 10   ture nominees. “I told Roger to       people that day, it was an embar-      did not want to “have any trouble’’     planning records show that the ex-           that Chugh appeared before the
contributors attended by Mc-            stop spreading that kind of stuff     rassment to the community,’’ said      with the authorities.                   pansion, which had been opposed              township Planning Board to tout a
Greevey and others in the inner         around,’’ he said.                    Kumar.                                    “It was just easier to pay,’’ she    by some neighbors, was denied for            strip mall project — the Mahatma
circle of the future governor.             Rajan said Chugh bragged that                                             said.                                   lack of adequate parking.                    Gandhi Plaza — presenting him-
   Chand Kewalramani, an Iselin         he wanted to be appointed chair-         Merchant’s view of                     Larry Esoldo, the township con-         The landlord of Kotak’s store,            self as a “partner, you can say in a
businessman who is suing Chugh          man of the Port Authority of New         Chugh: ‘A buffoon’                  struction official who signed the       an Iselin man named Ashok Patel,             way’’ with Kalra. After Chugh’s tes-
to recover a $120,000 debt, says        York and New Jersey, a coveted                                               Pollepalli violation, said in an in-    declined to be interviewed for this          timony at the April 5, 2000, meet-
Chugh brought McGreevey and             post from which he would have            In the crowded and colorful In-     terview last week that he did not       story, saying he did not “want to            ing, the board approved the project
Levinsohn to his home for a break-      controlled hundreds of jobs and       dian shops strung along Oak Tree       recall inspecting the jewelry store.    get involved with any controver-             along with seven variances.
fast meeting with five other busi-      contracts. He said people in the      Road in Iselin, it seems everyone      Although he acknowledged know-          sy.’’ Four other businessmen in the             Within three months of the pro-
nessmen. The meeting netted more        community even started playing up     knows Roger Chugh. When his            ing Chugh as a name-dropper who         neighborhood shared similar sto-             ject’s approval, Kalra wrote two
than $10,000 in contributions. Ke-      to Chugh in hopes of getting a job.   name is mentioned, some shop-          often came into town hall to apply      ries of being pressured by Chugh             checks totaling $50,000 to the De-
walramani said he handed a blank           “He told everyone that he          keepers just laugh and roll their      for building permits, he said he had    for contributions. But the four              mocratic State Committee, ac-
check to McGreevey.                     would have this immense power in      eyes. “A buffoon who paraded           never heard that Chugh had pres-        were unwilling to allow their                cording to state records. Chugh
   “[McGreevey] turned around,          the McGreevey administration          around the market like a king, I       sured merchants.                        names or details of their stories to         also gave $10,000 in the name of
handed the check to Levinsohn           and people believed him,’’ Rajan      know him,’’ said Gagan Patel, a           “That would be against the law,’’    be published. All said they feared           his printing company, New York
and asked ‘Can we accept this?’ ’’      said.                                 video store manager.                   he said.                                reprisals by Chugh or landlords              Image Printing Press Inc. The com-
Kewalramani said. According to             Members of the community said         Others gravely nod or frown at         Several other current Wood-          who remain friendly with him.                pany had ceased operations more
him, Levinsohn said they could, so      many of Chugh’s promises, in ret-     the mention of the name. Taken         bridge officials said they had nev-        Some of the four said they have           than six months earlier, after cred-
long as the amount ultimately writ-     rospect, were absurd.                 together, their stories paint a por-   er heard of any complaints about        project applications pending in the          itors and auctioneers had sold its
ten on the check did not exceed            Sam Shah, an Iselin business-      trait of a menace who brandished       Chugh strong-arming members of          township and fear interference.              equipment.
the $2,600 legal contribution limit     man, said Chugh bragged about his     his friendship with McGreevey          the Indian community or promis-            “Chugh may be gone, like you                 The state committee later re-
set down in state election law.         friendship with U.S. Sen. Jon         and other Woodbridge officials         ing special treatment from the          say, but he has powerful friends             turned Chugh’s check with no ex-
   “McGreevey and Chugh kept            Corzine and promised contribu-        like a weapon.                         township on planning, zoning, and       and this is my life, this is all I have,’’   planation, records show. But the
asking me if there was anything         tors interviews at Goldman Sachs,        Rukmini Pollepalli, the owner of    code enforcement matters.               said a 52-year-old shopkeeper who            committee kept the money from
they could do for me, or if I had       the finance house formerly led by     a jewelry store in the busy Subzi-        The township’s acting business       emigrated from the western Indian            Kalra and his real estate company.
any needs or concerns, and all I        Corzine.                              mandi Plaza just off Oak Tree          administrator, John Mitch, its long-    state of Gujarat in 1974. Chugh,             Between 1997 and 2001, cam-
wanted was the picture with my             “Roger was a Democratic ac-        Road, said Chugh visited her shop      time Planning Board chairman,           the shopkeeper said, came into his           paign records show, Kalra and his
                                                                                                                     Raymond R. Miller Sr., and other        store three times seeking money in           companies contributed almost
                                                                                                                     current township officials said they    1999 and 2001.                               $84,000 to McGreevey and the
 Rajesh ‘Roger’ Chugh: A partial résumé                                                                              cannot believe anyone would do             On two occasions, the shop-               Democratic Party.
                                                                                                                     such a thing.                           keeper said, Chugh said he heard                Kalra said he would write
 ä 1986 - New York City cabdriver.                        later, the N.J. Democratic State Committee re-                “I have never heard of this per-     the store was considering an ex-             checks and give them to Chugh.
 ä 1987 to 1994 - President of Landmark Travel &          ceives a $10,000 campaign contribution in the              son [Chugh],” said Miller, who has      pansion and he could “help things            Sometimes, he said, he walked into
 Tour Inc. in Manhattan/Queens, N.Y., a failed travel     name of New York Image Printing Press.                     served on the township Planning         along” with a contribution.                  campaign headquarters in Wood-
 agency that is stripped of its accreditation by the      ä 1998 to December 2000 - Director of Asian Af-            Board for 12 years, including the          “I asked him how he could be              bridge and handed money direct-
 Airlines Reporting Corp. when Air India and other        fairs for the Committee for Working Families PAC,          last four as chairman.                  so sure of himself and he said ‘Be-          ly to Levinsohn, McGreevey’s
 carriers fail to receive hundreds of thousands of        a federal political action committee set up by Mc-            Kevin McCabe, who was the            cause I am best friends with the             campaign-finance manager. He
 dollars for advance ticket sales handled by Chugh.       Greevey and run by Taffet and Paul Levinsohn,              township’s chief code enforcement       mayor and he does favors for me              said the contributions were not
 ä 1993 to 1997 - A principal in the New York-            campaign treasurer of McGreevey for Governor               officer before taking a job as the      because I do favors for him,’” said          linked at all to the approval of the
 based Chugh Printers, he seeks bankruptcy pro-           2001 and later chief counsel to the governor.              deputy labor commissioner in the        the shopkeeper. He said he made              Gandhi Plaza or another contro-
 tection in 1995 and the company is dissolved in          ä January 2000 - Business associate of strip-mall          McGreevey administration, did           no contribution and has not ap-              versial strip mall he built in 1997,
 September 1997 just after Chugh becomes a Mc-            developer Vinod Kalra of New York, who won ap-             not return calls seeking comment.       plied to expand his store.                   Subzimandi Plaza.
 Greevey fund-raiser.                                     proval for the Mahatma Gandhi Plaza in the con-            Several business owners said               While collecting contributions,              Several business owners say
 ä 1996 to 1997 - Personal assistant and driver for       gested "Little India" section of Woodbridge when           Chugh and McCabe, who was also          Chugh was promoting his own                  Chugh, with Kalra at his side,
 P. Singh Sabharwal, a prominent New York                 McGreevey was mayor.                                       the township’s Democratic chair-        business interests along Oak Tree            walked around the plazas acting
 landowner and publisher of now-defunct Asia On-          ä December 2000 to December 2001 - A $10,000-              man, often were seen walking to-        Road.                                        very much like he was both own-
 line.                                                    a-month fund-raising consultant to the N.J. Demo-          gether through the Indian business         One successful businessman                er and chief code enforcement of-
                                                          cratic State Committee. Chugh also claims the title        district in the Iselin section of       who owns shops in Iselin and                 ficer for the town. Rajesh Dharia, a
 ä July 1997 to November 1997 - Salaried fund-
                                                          of Asian Affairs outreach coordinator for the Mc-          Woodbridge.                             three other North Jersey commu-              software designer and merchant
 raiser for Democratic Finance '97, the joint fund-
                                                          Greevey campaign.                                             Another businessmen who de-          nities said Chugh frequently                 who says Kalra forced him out of
 raising arm of the N.J. Democratic State Commit-
                                                                                                                     scribed a run-in with Chugh was         stopped at his centrally located             the Gandhi Plaza, says he kicked
 tee and Jim McGreevey for Governor. The nine-            ä January 2002 to June 2003 - Assistant commis-
                                                                                                                     Bharat Kotak, who does a brisk          Oak Tree Road store and pres-                Chugh out of his store when
 member team is overseen by Gary Taffet, a former         sioner in New Jersey's Office of the Secretary of
                                                                                                                     business selling homemade cook-         sured him to sell. Chugh, he said,           Chugh came in to introduce him-
 Woodbridge chief of staff and McGreevey's first          State. Chugh falsely claims to the Indian press he
                                                                                                                     ies and Indian fast food from his       wanted to buy the property for               self.
 gubernatorial chief of staff.                            holds the Cabinet-level post of first assistant sec-
                                                                                                                     sweet shop off Oak Tree Road.           himself and the neighborhood’s                  “I knew he was Kalra’s right-
 ä 1998 - Fund-raiser with Bobby Kumar, then-vice         retary of state. The governor's office later terms it
                                                                                                                     Business was so good at the little      most powerful landlord, Vinod                hand man, I knew the game he
 chairman of the GOP in Nassau County, N.Y.; they         an "honest mistake."
                                                                                                                     corner store, Kotak said, that his      Kalra. Kalra owns two mini-malls             was playing with all the tenants —
 host fund-raisers for former Sen. Al D'Amato and         ä June 6, 2003 - Chugh resigns from the $85,000            landlord wanted to expand and           in the Little India marketplace.             I wouldn’t even look at him — I
 N.Y. Attorney General Dennis Vacco, and others.          post less than a week after The Record confronts           build a second story.                      “He came in on several occa-              was furious that this guy would
 ä 1995 to 1999 - President and CEO of New York           the McGreevey administration with federal court               Kotak said that Chugh heard of       sions and asked me to sell to him            even show his face,’’ Dharia said.
 Image Printing Press, which moves from Queens,           documents detailing Chugh's problems during the            plans to expand the store and           and Kalra,’’ the businessman said.              Jyoti Patel, the operator of two
 N.Y., to Middlesex County in mid-1999. All of the        mid-1990s in the travel industry. Chugh and ad-            came in one day in 2002 in an at-       “He would say that I had to sell be-         clothing stores that she rents in
 failed company's equipment is repossessed                ministration officials release statements claiming         tempt to get a political contribu-      cause I could never get anything             Kalra’s malls, says she chased
 and/or auctioned off by Dec. 2, 1999. Six months         Chugh resigned "to pursue other opportunities."            tion from the landlord.                 approved without them.’’ Kalra                            See CRITICS Page 21
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                             THE RECORD 21


                                                                                            Published Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003



Critics: Some Indian merchants ridicule Chugh, others fear him
From Page 20                           how he operated, I thought it was
Chugh out of her store one day         best to just stand aside in 2001,’’
when he came in to talk to her.        said Shah, adding that he made his
   “I knew enough about him that       concerns known to the Democra-
I didn’t want him in here, I wanted    tic State Committee. “They were
nothing to do with him because I       aware that people weren’t happy.’’
had heard the stories from the oth-    Florio said he does not remember
er owners,’’ Patel said, who added     having a conversation about
that she would not have been           Chugh with Shah, “He may have
afraid to call the police if he en-    said something, but I don’t recall.”
tered her store again.                     Maryanne S. Connelly — the
   “All these store owners around      former Democratic mayor of Fan-
here are afraid to speak up. But I     wood who was narrowly defeated
say for what? Why be afraid? We        by Republican Mike Ferguson in
are not in India. This is America.’’   the 2000 election in the 7th Con-
                                       gressional District — said she was
      A gatekeeper                     approached by several leading In-
      to McGreevey                     dians who were deeply concerned
                                       about Chugh’s background and his
   As a newcomer, Chugh had a          proximity to McGreevey.
limited role in McGreevey’s un-            “I think the community by that
successful 1997 gubernatorial          point felt so stymied by Chugh that
campaign. But by the time Mc-          they were desperate to be heard,’’
Greevey ran again in 2001, com-        Connelly said.
munity members say, Chugh had a            Connelly said the Indian leaders
stranglehold over Little India.        asked her to distribute copies of an
Chugh’s control caused frustration     Indian newspaper that recounted
for many who saw him as a pow-         a string of sordid — and complete-
erful gatekeeper, to the township      ly unsubstantiated — allegations
government as well as to the future    against Chugh and Kumar.
governor.                                  Connelly said she distributed
   Rajan, of the Indian Chamber of     dozens of copies of the report to
Commerce in Iselin, said Mc-           Democratic leaders at a May 2001
Greevey fostered Chugh’s gate-         party convention in Atlantic City.
keeper status. Rajan recalled ap-          “When I ran for Congress I de-
proaching McGreevey at the Indi-       veloped very close ties with the In-
an Heritage Festival in Atlantic       dian community and it was plain                                                                                                                                    CHRIS PEDOTA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
City shortly before McGreevey be-      they were deeply troubled by              Iselin business leader Pradip "Peter" Kothari supported the GOP in 2001, partially in protest over Roger Chugh's influence with then-guber-
came governor. He said he invited      Chugh,’’ Connelly said. “I distrib-       natorial candidate Jim McGreevey.
McGreevey — an acquaintance of         uted the newspaper as a favor to
15 years — to a Chamber of Com-        them because it was clear some-           inquiry, the staffers said, Levin-        campaign’s top managers.                ly as a liaison to the state’s Asian   something far away and which you
merce anniversary event. Rajan         thing was wrong and the party had         sohn was supposed to look into al-           “There were some people who          community. Apart from attending        have nothing to do with. This ad-
was surprised when McGreevey           to do something about this guy.’’         legations about Chugh’s back-             clearly wanted to get rid of the        meetings and serving on the state’s    ministration is your own and all of
told him to “talk to Roger.”           During her congressional race,            ground.                                   guy,’’ said the Democrat. “But          Asian American Heritage Com-           you are part of it.”
   Girijha Roy, a veterinarian and     Connelly said, McGreevey had                 One staffer said that about one        Roger was kept around, I guess,         mission, it was never clear what          To shop owners in Little India,
staunch McGreevey backer, said         promised to raise $50,000 for her         third of all contributions brought        because he was a friend of Mc-          Chugh’s job was. The State De-         McGreevey’s rhetoric could not
Chugh’s ascent was galling to          in what was certain to be a close         in by Chugh appeared to be “ir-           Greevey.’’ Bob Long, a Democrat         partment said Chugh’s position         ring more hollow.
many Middlesex County Indians.         contest with Ferguson. But with           regular or illegal.’’ Chugh, the          who worked as a contribution            does not have an official job de-         Many say the community, never
Chugh was a New Yorker with no         the election nearing, she said, Mc-       sources said, would hand-deliver          compliance officer in the 2001          scription.                             known for its cohesiveness, is now
previous ties to New Jersey De-        Greevey proved elusive as she tried       suspicious-looking money orders           campaign, said Chugh “was sat              New Jersey Indians say that         more divided than ever. Suspicion
mocrats. Chugh, in fact, did not       to cash in on his promise.                from third parties — money orders         down and talked to” by Taffet and       Chugh’s elevation to public office     of the government and indiffer-
change his domicile from Pelham,           “I finally ran into him at an         made out in sequence — along              Levinsohn. Long said he did not         only served to cement his role as      ence to the political process are
N.Y., even after being appointed to    event one day and he said, ‘Oh,           with checks made out in his own           believe Chugh was ever officially       McGreevey’s gatekeeper to their        stronger than ever. That, they say,
his State Department post.             don’t worry about the money, just         handwriting. Sometimes, they              suspended or disciplined in any         community. Many said it became         will remain Chugh’s — and the
   Chugh also had deep ties with       call Roger and he’ll take care of         said, Chugh could not provide             way.                                    impossible to get a word in with       governor’s — real legacy.
the New York Republican Party,         it,’’’ Connelly said. “I was floored. I   complete information about a                 “I never heard any complaints        the governor. Some who said they          “Jim held out a lot of promise to
ties that he never completely cut.     mean, what role did Chugh have            contributor’s address or occupa-          directly, but there was controver-      were old friends with McGreevey        us but after he became governor
In 1998 and 1999, while working        in raising money for other candi-         tion, as is required by state elec-       sy,’’ Long said.                        suddenly found that the former         he just disappeared,’’ said Atul
as a staffer for McGreevey’s polit-    dates? And I already had tapped           tion law.                                    Long added, however, that            Woodbridge mayor was not re-           Soni, owner of an electronics store
ical action committee — the Com-       out the Indian community for con-            There was at least one occasion,       Chugh’s strong personality and          turning their calls. Even more         on Oak Tree Road. “How could
mittee for Working Families —          tributions.’’ Connelly said she tried     the sources said, when Chugh at-          prominence as link to the frac-         maddening, some calls to Mc-           he really say he cared about us
Chugh was also helping raise mon-      to contact Chugh repeatedly in the        tempted to submit a contribution          tious Indian community made             Greevey were now being returned        when he gave his confidence to
ey for Republicans with an old         ensuing weeks, but he did not re-         from a foreign national — illegal in      him a lightning rod for criticism       by Chugh.                              guys like Chugh and let them run
friend, Nassau County GOP Vice         turn her calls. At other times when       this country.                             that was not always valid. By his          Pradip “Peter” Kothari, a travel    things?” In the end, said Soni and
Chairman Bobby Kumar.                  she reached him on his cellphone             “From our point of view, trying        tally, Long said, Chugh gave Mc-        agent and longtime leader of the       many others, doing business in
   “Here was this interloper from      Chugh would pretend he could              to run a clean campaign, Chugh            Greevey’s campaign only “a hand-        Iselin business community, broke       Woodbridge really proved to be
out of state suddenly trying to take   not hear her, she said.                   was a complete nightmare,’’ said          ful” of bad checks — no more or         with McGreevey and switched to         not much different than doing
credit for everything in New Jersey,       “It was a complete joke, this guy     one staffer. “He was out there of-        less than the other fund-raisers.       the Republicans in 2001, partly in     business in the marketplace back
and he comes from the New York         saying “hello ... hello ... hello’’ on    fering jobs and contracts to con-         He said he had no knowledge             protest over Chugh’s increasing in-    in India, where corruption is ram-
Republican machine,’’ said Roy.        the other end,’’ she said.                tributors. He was making wild             about the number of Chugh’s             fluence. On inauguration day,          pant.
   Complaints about Chugh grew             Connelly said she did eventual-       promises. It was sickening, out of        checks that were rejected by the        Kothari said, he approached Mc-           “What good are the laws and
widespread within the Democrat-        ly contact Chugh, who later raised        control.’’ The staffers said they did     Democratic State Committee, a           Greevey in the hopes of patching       the protections supposedly guar-
ic political community.                only about $12,000 of the $50,000         not know what Levinsohn’s in-             separate entity that also supported     things up.                             anteed by the American political
   Prakash Shah, a Raritan busi-       promised by McGreevey.                    quiry found out about Chugh or if         the campaign.                              “He looked at me and said,          system if someone like Roger
nessman who raised more than                                                     any disciplinary action was ever             “Roger might have made ene-          ‘Talk to Roger.’’’ Kothari recalled.   Chugh can come in and take over
$300,000 for Democratic presi-            Chugh’s methods                        taken against him. They said they         mies because of his strong person-      “I was stunned. I was so furious I     everything for his own good and
dential      candidate     Michael      called ‘out of control’                  were certain McGreevey was                ality,’’ Long said. “But fund raising   could barely speak. It was very        the people he is working for?’’ said
Dukakis in 1988, said he told par-                                               made aware of the irregularities.         was his business, he took it seri-      clear from that moment on that         Sylvester Fernandez, an Indian
ty leaders that he was sitting out        Complaints about Chugh                    “I can’t say what they found out       ously, and was good at it. That         Roger’s grip on our community          businessman with Portuguese
the 2001 gubernatorial election be-    reached a crisis point in the             in this inquiry or whatever hap-          doesn’t mean he did anything            would never be broken.’’ During        roots.
cause he felt Chugh was “a dan-        months leading up to the 2001             pened to Roger. All those kind of         wrong.’’                                his campaign and in the months            “The sad thing is everybody got
gerous character.’’ When Shah’s        election. At the time, Chugh was          decisions were made directly by                                                   after he was elected, McGreevey        what they wanted except the peo-
old friend, former Gov. Jim Florio,    being paid $10,000 a month as a           Gary [Taffet] or Paul [Levin-                McGreevey wins,                      often said that his administration     ple who really needed it,’’ said Fer-
approached him to ask why he           fund-raising consultant to the state      sohn],’’ said one of the staffers. “All     $85,000 job follows                   would be about opening govern-         nandez. “McGreevey got his con-
was not getting involved in the        committee.                                I know for sure is that Roger was                                                 ment for everyone, about “chang-       tributions. Chugh got the status
election, Shah said he confessed          According to two leading               out there working the community              Like dozens of other loyal Mc-       ing the way Trenton does busi-         and power he wanted. The big
his misgivings about Chugh. Flo-       staffers who worked for the De-           to the end of the campaign.”              Greevey campaign workers,               ness.’’ “This is the community I       contributors got access. But what
rio, he said, had heard complaints     mocratic State Committee, Levin-             A third Democratic campaign            Chugh was awarded a job in the          love and cherish,” the governor        did the little guy get, except more
about Chugh and expressed hope         sohn and Taffet told Chugh to tem-        official — also speaking to The           new administration, an $85,000-a-       said during a May 2002 speech to       disappointment?’’
that McGreevey would “do some-         porarily suspend fund-raising ac-         Record on condition of anonymity          year post as assistant commission-      the Asian Indian Chamber of
thing to straighten things out.’’      tivities while they checked out the       — said there were discussions             er in the Department of State.          Commerce in Princeton. “Don’t          E-mail: pillets@northjersey.com and
“Knowing Roger and his past and        complaints. As part of the in-house       about firing Chugh among the                 There, Chugh functioned main-        look at the administration as          riley@northjersey.com




                                                                            AN EDITORIAL
                                                                                            Published Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003


                                                                      New McGreevey scandal
                                                                         How top fund-raiser pressured contributors

                E
                      VERYBODY KNOWS that                           Greevey when he first ran for governor                 he generated were rejected because of              governor’s director of communications
                      money talks in politics. But if you           in 1997 — despite a shady past that in-                irregularities.                                    said that “if the governor had known
                      missed the recent article in The              cluded writing $50,000 in bad checks,                     Mr. Chugh was ultimately rewarded               that Roger had done anything illegal, or
                Record about Roger Chugh, a top fund-               sticking Air India and other airlines                  with a largely ceremonial $85,000-a-               even unethical, he would have acted.”
                raiser for Governor McGreevey, you                  with $319,000 in losses, and racking up                year state job — as an ethnic outreach             And this week another spokesman
                probably had no idea just how corro-                $361,000 in tax liens, court judgments,                official. Mr. Chugh resigned in June, just         downplayed Mr. Chugh’s connection to
                sive and corrupting campaign money                  and other legal claims in the past 10                  days after The Record confronted Mc-               the governor, calling him “one of more
                can be.                                             years.                                                 Greevey officials with federal court               than 100 employees.”
                   The story details how a political op-               The Punjabi émigré soon parlayed his                documents describing Mr. Chugh’s                     But six people interviewed by The
                erative with a dubious past was able to             connection to Mr. McGreevey, then                      checkered history in the travel industry.          Record told of the repeated warnings
                insinuate himself into Mr. McGreevey’s              mayor of Woodbridge, to get ahead.                        It’s small wonder that so many Asian            that the governor had received about
                inner circle and use that connection to             Business owners in the town’s Little In-               Indians in this state are disenchanted             Mr. Chugh’s tactics, and of Mr. Mc-
                pressure the Asian Indian community                 dia section told The Record that Mr.                   with politics: The man Mr. McGreevey               Greevey’s failure to do anything.
                to make huge donations.                             Chugh tried to raise money for Mr. Mc-                 chose to be their champion had done                  In the wake of The Record’s article,
                   The story, by Staff Writers Jeff Pillets         Greevey by implying that he had influ-                 his best to exploit them.                          state Republicans are calling for the
                and Clint Riley, also details the repeat-           ence in township zoning and code-en-                      Unfortunately, the sordid story of              U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate Mr.
                ed warnings about Mr. Chugh that Mr.                forcement decisions. Other members of                  Roger Chugh says even more about the               Chugh’s fund-raising activities. And late
                McGreevey received, to the point                    the Asian Indian community said that                   governor than it does about Mr. Chugh              yesterday, state Attorney General Peter
                where it’s impossible to imagine why                Mr. Chugh promised them jobs or po-                    himself. The governor, who has shown               Harvey said he is looking into the alle-
                Mr. McGreevey stuck by his star fund-               litical favors in exchange for donations.              incredibly poor judgment in some of his            gations. Both steps make sense.
                raiser for so long — unless the future                 Mr. Chugh managed to raise an esti-                 political appointments, seems willing to             The Roger Chugh scandal also
                governor was totally blinded by the                 mated $1 million for the governor’s                    place a far higher value on cash than on           speaks to the desperate need for cam-
                huge amounts of money pouring into                  campaign and the Democrats. Starting                   character.                                         paign finance reform in New Jersey. Mr.
                his campaign.                                       in 2000, he was paid $10,000 a month                      The governor has tried to distance              McGreevey has always talked a good
                   Mr. Chugh, a former cabby and trav-              by the State Democratic Committee.                     himself from the growing scandal. At               game about cleaning up politics, but
                el agent, hooked up with Mr. Mc-                    But as many as a third of the donations                the time of Mr. Chugh’s resignation, the           money has always talked louder.
22 THE RECORD                                                                                                                     JANUARY 2005




                   F R I E N D   O F   T H E   P E O P L E   I T    S E R V E S
                                  www.northjersey.com




                                 Published Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003




                He plays, you pay
                                                  Generous law firm
                                                  gets lots of work
                                                                                     First of two parts

                                                             By SHANNON D. HARRINGTON,
                                                             CLINT RILEY, and JEFF PILLETS
                                                             STAFF WRITERS

                                                                You’ve probably never heard of M. Robert DeCotiis, but
                                                             your tax money has helped make him one of the best-paid at-
                                                             torneys in New Jersey.
                                                                From his suite of offices in Teaneck, the 62-year-old lawyer
                                                             directs a group of high-powered professionals who have
                                                             brought home more than $10 million per year in no-bid con-
                                                             tracts awarded by politicians across New Jersey.
                                                                At the same time, DeCotiis and his lawyers are sending
                                                             nearly $500,000 a year to political campaigns in this state.
                                                                Bob DeCotiis and his team of government law specialist —
                                                             at the firm now called DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler
                                                             — have been the counselors of choice for a generation of
                                                             mayors and committeemen, freeholders and governors.
                                                                DeCotiis and his supporters say that’s because their firm
                                                             offers unrivaled expertise in government work. But critics say
                                                             that DeCotiis and other top lawyers like him thrive by ex-
                                                             ploiting a system that encourages politicians to reward their
                                                             big contributors with juicy — and perfectly legal — no-bid
                                                             contracts financed by the taxpayers.
                                                                A sweeping review of DeCotiis’ work for towns and pub-
                                                             lic agencies shows how high rollers in this “pay-to-play”
                                                             sweepstakes reap huge returns from investments in the right
                                                             politicians. In a study of DeCotiis legal bills for towns and
                                                               public agencies across New Jersey, as well as interviews with
                                                                dozens of elected officials, The Record has found that:
                                                                     ä The DeCotiis firm billed at least 128 government en-
                                                                    tities nearly $26.6 million during the 2 1/2-year period
                                                                      starting in January 2001. From Alpine to Atlantic
                                                                         City, in 15 of New Jersey’s 21 counties and many
                                                                           departments of state government, DeCotiis
                                                                            lawyers are charging the taxpayers for contracts
                                                                               that, under New Jersey law, can be awarded
                                                                                 without competitive bidding.
                                                                                      The data come from thousands of
                                                                                      pages of DeCotiis’ legal bills obtained
                                                                                        through requests placed under the
                                                                                          state’s Open Public Records Act to
                                                                                            more than 550 government agen-
                                                                                              cies.
                                                                                                    ä Fifty-nine municipalities
                                                                                                  and governing agencies in
                                                                                                  Bergen, Passaic, Hudson,
                                                                                                  and Morris counties paid
                                                                                                  the firm more than a total of
                                                                                                  $4 million during 2001,
                                                                                                  2002, and the first six
                                                                                                  months of 2003. The biggest
                                                                                                  billings were in the firm’s
                                                                                                       See DeCOTIIS Page 23



                                                                                          BETH BALBIERZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
                                                                M. Robert DeCotiis, managing partner, DeCotiis, Fitz-
                                                                Patrick, Cole & Wisler law firm. It excels in the world of
                                                                contracts and political contributions.
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                              THE RECORD 23


                                                                                               Published Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003



DeCotiis: A world of political contributions, lucrative contracts
From Page 22
home county, where the Bergen
County administration alone paid
                                          Snapshots of a legal colossus
the DeCotiis firm $771,890.84 in          The law firm of DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler provides services for at least 128 public entities large and small, from one end of New Jersey to the other. Here is a represen-
legal fees, more than twice as            tative sampling of some of those clients, noting fees paid to the firm between January 2001 and June of this year.
much as any other firm. Since
1999, DeCotiis attorneys have
contributed $154,000 to candi-                                      North Jersey District Water                                                              Bergen County
dates for Bergen County offices                                     Supply Commission                                                                        ä Paid: $771,890.84
and party organizations on both                                                                                                                              ä For: Special counsel, including representing the county in an ongoing
sides of the aisle.                                                 ä Paid: $800,250.30
                                                                                                                                                             contract dispute with the private contractor who runs the county's pub-
    ä In the past five years, lawyers                               ä For: General counsel for the commission
                                                                                                                                                             lic hospital. Over the last five years, the firm has made $154,264 in con-
working in the 80-member firm                                       that runs the Wanaque Reservoir system.
                                                                                                                                                             tributions to candidates for county office from both parties and to both
have contributed more than $2.5                                                                                                                              political organizations.
million to local, county, and state
politicians from both major par-          Delaware River Joint Toll
ties, state campaign finance                                                                                                                                       Teterboro
records show. At the same time,           Bridge Commission                                                                                                        ä Paid: $16,025.42
DeCotiis partners were also lead-         ä Paid: $160,000                                                                                                         ä For: Special counsel
ing fund-raising efforts that yield-                                                              Essex County
                                          ä For: Bond counsel for this agency,                                                                                     and bond counsel;
ed millions more for politicians          which operates a number of small                        Utilities Authority                                              that works out to near-
statewide.                                bridges spanning the Delaware, most-                                                                                     ly $900 for each of the
                                                                                                  ä Paid: $2,544,606.60
    ä The apportionment of politi-        ly in the northern half of the state.                                                                                    borough's 18 resi-
cal contributions is the first duty of                                                            ä For: General counsel to
                                                                                                  this agency which built the                                      dents (2000 census).
the firm’s managing partners
specifically mentioned in their                                                                   county's debt-ridden
partnership agreement, a copy of                                                                  garbage burner and over-                                   Edgewater Municipal
which was filed in state court in                                                                 sees Essex's solid-waste                                   Utilities Authority
January. The firm’s net profits are                                                               disposal system.
                                                                                                                                                             ä Paid: $372,366.09
computed only after political con-                                                                                                                           ä For: General counsel for this
tributions have been deducted                                                                                                                                agency, which operates the bor-
from the bottom line.
    ä Public officials sometimes pay                                                                                                                         ough's sewage-treatment plant.
little attention to legal billings — a
failing of a system that provides lit-
tle incentive to rein in costs, critics
                                                                                                                                                             Rahway
say. The firm charges $230 an                                                                                                                                ä Paid: $979,988.24
hour for tasks as simple as retriev-      The state of New Jersey                                                                                            ä For: General counsel to this Union County community,
ing voice mail. Taxpayers get stuck       ä Paid: $3,916,535.90
                                                                                                                           Manalapan                         where James Kennedy, the best man at Governor Mc-
with $75-an-hour bills for parale-        ä For: Litigation and service as bond                                            ä Paid:                           Greevey's wedding, is mayor; Kennedy is a lobbyist at State
gals to deliver documents —gofer          counsel and as underwriters' counsel.                                            $416,049.37                       Street Partners, a Trenton firm in which the DeCotiis partner-
work couriers perform for a frac-                                                                                          ä For: General                    ship held a major financial stake until December 2001.
tion of the cost. In one instance, a      The firm helped defend the state
misplaced decimal point cost En-          against allegations of racial profiling in                                       counsel
glewood Cliffs taxpayers nearly           civil lawsuits; it also received fees from
$5,000 until the mistake was not-         the issuance of debt backed by future                                                                      New Jersey
ed by a reporter.                         tobacco-settlement proceeds.
                                                                                                                                                     Turnpike Authority
    Bob DeCotiis declined to be in-
terviewed in person for this story.                                                                                                                  ä Paid: $2,039,814.37
But in a statement issued to The                                                                                                                     ä For: General counsel, much of
Record, he said his success has less                                                                                                                 that arising in 2002 for work on
to do with political connections                                                                                                                     the merger of the turnpike with
than the quality of legal work pro-                                                                                                                  the former N.J. Highway Author-
vided by a high-powered staff of                                                                                                                     ity, which ran the Garden State
associates dedicated to the De-                                                                                                                      Parkway. The firm is now one of
Cotiis family dictum: “Be honest,                                                                                                                    two outside counsels retained
work hard, help others, do your                                                                                                                      by the merged highway agency.
best for your family and others.’’
He dismissed the suggestion that                                                                                                            Atlantic City
his firm’s financial success is con-
                                                                                                                                            ä Paid: $396,561.50
nected to his sponsorship of pow-
erful policymakers.                                                                                                                         ä For: Defending the
    “The current equation put forth                                                                                                         city against tax ap-
in the public domain that political                                                                                                         peals from casinos
donations equals government                                                                                                                 and other property
work is simplistic, demeaning to
                                          Vineland                                                                                          owners.
public officials, and, in our case,       ä Fees: $720,443.94
demeaning to the competence and           ä For: Counsel on utilities
professionalism of our lawyers,’’         issues for this agricultural cen-                                                Wildwood
said DeCotiis, who called his legal       ter in Cumberland County.                                                        ä Paid: $268,399.76, which works out to
bills “fair and appropriate” for the                                                                                       nearly $50 for each permanent resident of
complex public finance and gov-                                                                                            this Cape May County resort community.
ernment work he performs.                 Source: documents supplied to The Record under the
                                          Open Public Records Act by the entities themselves                               ä For: Bond counsel and utilities counsel.
    “It is the quality and experience
of our attorneys that accounts for
our appointments and reappoint-
ments as counsel,’’ he said, “not         DeCotiis firm has managed that perts on public projects that have                An annual study by the New              nance reform activist with Com-            McGreevey spokesman Micah
political contributions.’’                very well.’’                            registered millions in cost over-     Jersey Law Journal found that the          mon Cause NJ.                           Rasmussen said Michael DeCoti-
    While the secret of Bob De-                                                   runs. A proposed Essex County         firm was by far the most profitable            Contillo says taxes are pushed      is severed all ties with his family’s
Cotiis’ success might be a matter              Finding legal bills                jail and cogeneration complex,        of the state’s top 20 law practices;       up when contracts are awarded           firm when he became chief coun-
for debate, there can be no argu-           were ‘out of control’ once estimated to cost $220 mil-                      the 17 DeCotiis partners split             without competition to campaign         sel and recused himself from any
ment that the Seton Hall Law grad                                                 lion, might now cost taxpayers as     $11.4 million in net revenue last          contributors looking to recoup the      issue that even appears to affect
and the attorneys who work for                Still, public officials who are fa- much as $300 million.                 year.                                      thousands of dollars they gave to       the interests of his family or their
him enjoy enormous influence in           miliar with DeCotiis’ fee-for-serv-        While the cost overruns are due       A copy of the firm’s partnership        the public officials who control        clients. “I can assure you he’s quite
Trenton and beyond.                       ice juggernaut say the firm’s unri- to a number of factors, Essex offi-       agreement shows that Bob De-               hiring.                                 serious about this stuff,’’ said Ras-
    In an interview before his death      valed access can cost taxpayers cials say DeCotiis’ legal fees are at         Cotiis brought home at least                   “If the taxpayer groups realized    mussen.
from cancer this year, James J.           plenty.                                 least a small portion of them.        $72,500 a month in 2002, the last          it was costing them so much more
Sheehan, the wily former chair-               Essex County Executive Joseph          DeCotiis said the project over-    year covered by the document.              in their taxes,” they would be more      Big role in reshaping
man of the Bergen County Repub-           DiVincenzo Jr. says he came to of- runs were “largely attributable to         Former partner Michael Gluck, a            concerned about pay to play, Con-         the Meadowlands
lican party, summed it up this way:       fice in January to find that the the cost of property acquisition,            prominent Republican bond                  tillo said.
    “The DeCotiis law firm basical-       county’s expenses for outside legal construction overruns, and envi-          lawyer whom DeCotiis joined                    Some states have already limit-        Bob DeCotiis claims that more
ly runs the county, even now, no          work performed by the DeCotiis ronmental cleanup expenses.”                   forces with in 1994 as the GOP             ed the ability of campaign contrib-     than half of his law firm’s business
matter which party’s in there,’’ he       firm and other lawyers were “to-           Officials in Essex County said     took control of state government,          utors to get state work. Leading        comes from private and corporate
said. “When we were in there, they        tally out of control.’’                 the DeCotiis firm received more       was making at least $77,900 a              bankers, lawyers, and security          clients. But some of the largest of
were running the county. Now                  Essex taxpayers, he said, were than $13 million in county busi-           month before he quit the firm last         dealers have condemned pay to           those clients are involved in proj-
they’re running the county.               getting gouged by lawyers who ness during Treffinger’s eight years            December, with a dozen associ-             play, and those who benefit from        ects that hinge on obtaining per-
They’re halfway running the               charged whatever they wanted, as executive.                                   ates in tow. The document became           it, as immoral.                         mits and regulatory concessions
state.’’                                  padding their bills while double-          “What they do is create legal      public as part of Gluck’s January              New Jersey politicians are also     from the same state officials who
    Assemblyman John Rooney, a            teaming routine work sessions that process and then have the political        2003 lawsuit against the firm.             clamoring for reform. A year ago,       have awarded DeCotiis no-bid
Republican from Northvale, said           could have been handled by a sin- godfathers take care of things,’’              Gluck’s suit went to arbitration,       Governor McGreevey announced            contracts.
DeCotiis’ success transcends poli-        gle lawyer. County records show said one Essex County source,                 and he would not comment for               that pay-to-play reform would be           Right now, for example, the
tics.                                     that in just two years — 2001 and who agreed to speak on condition            this story. But sources knowledge-         one of his top priorities. But he has   DeCotiis firm is lead attorney for
    “Forget about the parties —           2002 — DeCotiis lawyers billed of anonymity.                                  able about the ugly divorce — at           yet to offer a single concrete pro-     two private projects that will re-
they cross over all lines, “ Rooney       Essex County agencies for $2.7             In response, DeCotiis noted        one point Gluck sought a restrain-         posal that would curb the practice,     shape the Meadowlands: the En-
said of the firm. “There’s the Re-        million in legal work and were, in that commissioners at the inde-            ing order forcing his old firm to          and his Democratic allies in the        Cap Corp.’s trash-dump-to-golf-
publican Party, the Democratic            the estimation of some officials, es- pendent authorities, who are not        forward his mail — said Gluck was          Legislature kill any effort to bring    links proposal and the colossal
Party, and the Money Party. And           sentially running major offices, answerable to county officials, re-          distressed by the constant pressure        the issue to a vote.                    Xanadu project, a shopping and
they’re part of the Money Party.          such as the county sewer authori- viewed the firm’s billings. He also         to squeeze more billable hours                 A spokesman for McGreevey’s         entertainment complex to be
These are the people that really          ty.                                     pointed out that the firm continues   from public clients, in part by            office said the governor would not      erected by the Mills Corp. next to
make money from the political                 “This firm [DeCotiis] was send- to represent both the improve-            sending multiple attorneys to pub-         comment on pay-to-play reform or        Giants Stadium. DeCotiis cited
process.”                                 ing three and four people to meet- ment and the utilities authorities.        lic meetings.                              the DeCotiis firm for this story,       both projects in his statement as
    Yet, DeCotiis supporters say his      ings and they were having social           The commissioners on both             “I think he was quite disgusted         even though Bob DeCotiis was a          examples of his private clients.
success has less to do with money         gatherings more than anything boards are selected by the county               and needed to move on,’’ said one          key member of the governor’s own           In all, DeCotiis lawyers are
than his ability to find a middle         else,” said DiVincenzo, whose ad- executive.                                  source.                                    campaign-finance team.                  shepherding some $5 billion in
ground. Bob DeCotiis is a con-            ministration has dramatically cut          Lawyers who have worked for           DeCotiis denies that the firm               Since McGreevey became gov-         projects that Bob DeCotiis claims
summate pragmatist, they say.             spending on outside legal work.         DeCotiis and others with knowl-       overstaffs meetings. “We do not            ernor in January 2002, state de-        are “the largest ... on the East
    “I don’t know if he’s a good at-          At the same time platoons of edge of his firm’s inner workings            encourage the practice you de-             partments and agencies controlled       Coast.’’
torney,” said state Sen. Gerald R.        DeCotiis lawyers were appearing say the pay-to-play system has fos-           scribe and we do not engage in it.”        by his appointees have awarded             DeCotiis describes it this way:
Cardinale, R-Demarest, a former           at meetings in Essex County, the tered an atmosphere of unac-                                                            the DeCotiis firm at least $4.4 mil-    “Our attorneys have been in-
Demarest mayor who once tried             law firm was pumping more than countability and greed. The firm                Trying to put an end                      lion in no-bid work, according to       volved in some way, shape, or
to block DeCotiis’ bid to become          $100,000 into the campaign funds has quintupled in size over the                 to ‘pay to play’                        The Record’s analysis of the state      form in virtually every major gov-
borough attorney, before being            of former county executive and past 10 years.                                                                            documents.                              ernmental issue or trend statewide
won over. “I’m not an attorney. ...       two-time U.S. Senate candidate             “Who’s going to question Bob           In recent years, the pay-to-play           Michael DeCotiis, the son of        for the last two decades. We have
But I think he’s a practical person       James Treffinger.                       DeCotiis’ legal fees besides a few    system has become a prime target           Bob DeCotiis, left the firm last year   handled the privatization of water
who looks for disagreements to be             Treffinger is now heading for a flaky councilmen and cranky gad-          for reformers.                             to serve as deputy executive direc-     and sewer systems, the privatiza-
put in the background and for             13-month prison term following a flies? Certainly not the people                  It is really the taxpayers who fi-     tor of the Port Authority of New        tion of hospitals, the merger of the
agreements to be reached. He’s a          federal conviction for extorting who hired him, because he prob-              nance the excesses of the pay-to-          York and New Jersey and earlier         Turnpike and the Garden State
great negotiator, not in the sense        campaign contributions. Data ably bankrolled their election,’’                play system, these reformers point         this year became chief counsel to       Parkway, the use of brownfield re-
of getting an advantage, but for          compiled by The Record show said one former associate.                        out. Your tax dollars, your high-          McGreevey, a powerful position          development tools to redevelop
getting it done.”                         that the Republican was by far the         “With that kind of power, arro-    way tolls, your sewer fees go to lit-      that his father held before him in      sites that would otherwise lay bar-
    Assemblywoman Loretta Wein-           largest single individual benefici- gance and greed are certain to fol-       igators, bond lawyers, engineers,          the administration of Gov. Jim          ren, the construction of resource
berg also spoke about his skills at       ary of the DeCotiis firm’s political low.’’                                   architects, and other professionals        Florio.                                 recovery facilities, the restructur-
bringing people together.                 donations in the past five years.          Bob DeCotiis’ family — his         who have little incentive to work              Bob DeCotiis, in his written        ing of the state’s solid waste dis-
    “In many respects, politically            During that same period De- brother, two sons, a daughter, and            cheaply.                                   statement, said his firm has not        posal system, and the first success-
active firms are known as either          Cotiis lawyers, in their dual role as son-in-law - have worked for the            “We already have public fund-          asked Michael to intervene on any       ful public condemnation of a pri-
Democratic firms or Republican            general counsel for both the Essex firm — and many of the firm’s              ing of campaigns, the taxpayer just        matter regarding a public agency        vate electric utility by a local gov-
firms. There aren’t too many that         County Improvement Authority lawyers have grown rich in their                 doesn’t understand it,” said former        since the son joined the adminis-       ernment entity.’’
can do both sides of the street, “        and Essex County Utilities Au- role as chief defender and protec-             Democratic state Sen. Paul Con-            tration. Michael DeCotiis could            The firm also has a lobbying
said the Teaneck Democrat. “The           thority, presided as the legal ex- tor of New Jersey’s political class.       tillo of Paramus, a campaign fi-           not be reached for comment.                        See SUCCESS Page 24
24 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                      WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2005


                                                                                           Published Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003



Success: Building a major law practice via ‘pay to play’
From Page 23                                      ro Tucci, for example, has already re-         Counsels Catherine Tamasik and Steven         Helstoski, whom the young lawyer                   much money DeCotiis was charging as
arm, representing a range of public and           ceived $14,500 from DeCotiis lawyers for       Mannion received jobs at a DeCotiis firm      worked for as a volunteer.                         the agency fought for its life in the wake of
private clients in that capacity. Indeed,         his 2004 reelection campaign.                  that was reaping millions in no-bid work.         Kiefer, one of the few pre-Watergate           a 1997 Supreme Court ruling declaring
the firm isn’t just serving as a legal advis-        Tucci was chairman of the Essex             DeCotiis said that the county counsel’s       lawmakers who voluntarily disclosed his            county trash agencies like the PCUA ille-
er to Mills, it is also lobbying legislators to   County Utilities Authority when it ap-         office has no oversight of the county’s in-   political donors, believed that any contri-        gal monopolies.
win concessions on transportation and             proved $2.3 million in no-bid payments         dependent authorities.                        bution over $500 was potentially a cause              Under the firm’s consecutive five-year
other infrastructure improvements criti-          to the law firm. In Bloomfield, where             Jeffrey J. Miller, Divi-                   for corruption. In 1971, Kiefer vocally op-        contracts, DeCotiis was paid a flat
cal to the Virginia company’s Xanadu              Tucci is township administrator, the De-       sion of Law director in                       posed the proposed Meadowlands Sports              $30,000 fee for attending authority meet-
proposal.                                         Cotiis firm has been paid about $350,000       the New Jersey Attorney                       Complex, especially the racetrack, arguing         ings — the equivalent of $2,500 for each
   At the same time DeCotiis lawyers are          since 2001 for legal work. And in Nutley,      General’s Office from                         it amounted to a corrupting force and              of the 12 monthly meetings. Attorneys,
working with their political patrons on           DeCotiis was awarded a $25,000 con-            1998 to 2002, also won a                      “pollution of the people.’’                        who were paid as high as $195 an hour,
government contracts, they’re working to          tract as legal adviser on the construction     top job under DeCotiis.                           While DeCotiis may have moved away             billed as much as $450 to write up the
get their political patrons reelected.            of a federally funded adult day-care cen-      As the state’s top civil                      from his youthful idealism, Bruinooge              meeting agenda.
   In addition to serving as a top Mc-            ter.                                           lawyer, Miller had SCHUBER                    said his utter mastery of the political               Collins said he was astounded at the
Greevey fund-raiser, Bob DeCotiis was                Tucci isn’t the only public official who    awarded the DeCotiis                          process makes DeCotiis “a classic Amer-            number of times the firm billed taxpayers
collecting contributions for Democratic           has had a hand in giving DeCotiis work         firm more than $3 million to defend the       ican success story.’’                              for DeCotiis lawyers simply talking to
Assembly Speaker Albio Sires and the              in more than one locality.                     New Jersey State Police against charges           “Clearly [DeCotiis’] voice is heard and        each other.
Assembly Democrats. Bob’s brother and                Edgewater Mayor Bryan Christiansen          of racial discrimination.                     listened to at all levels of government in            “If two lawyers talked at the water
law partner, Al, served with him as co-           oversaw $1.5 million in DeCotiis legal            Both Schuber and Ronald Calissi,           New Jersey. That is a fact,’’ he said. “It         cooler and the word PCUA came up, we
chairman of the Assembly Democrats fi-            work at the Joint Meeting of Essex and         Bergen County’s former chief of public        boils down to two things: competence               got billed for two lawyers,” Collins said.
nance committee. Al also served as a              Union Counties, a sewage plant in Eliz-        safety, have also joined the DeCotiis firm    and connections.’’                                    Bob DeCotiis says his firm’s legal fees
member of the Democratic National                 abeth where Christiansen serves as exec-       on an “of counsel” basis. In that capacity,       By 1983, DeCotiis already had built the        reflected the myriad complex tasks con-
Committee and was New Jersey finance              utive director.                                they enjoy a consulting relationship with     most lucrative municipal law practice in           nected to the failed incinerator project.
chairman for Bill Clinton in both 1992               DeCotiis made $400,000 in Edgewater         the firm and are listed on the DeCotiis       Bergen County. A report by The Record              He pointed out that his firm had obtained
and 1996.                                         — most of it at the borough utilities au-      letterhead but are not actively involved in   found he earned $148,303 that year rep-            necessary permits for the project and was
   After raising $5 million for the DNC, a        thority, where Christiansen also was           the firm’s day-to-day work.                   resenting five Bergen towns. Even though           ready to proceed on schedule with con-
feat that won him an invitation to one of         chairman. Christiansen’s campaigns have           DeCotiis says he recruits top govern-      DeCotiis was an active Democrat, Re-               struction before Florio stepped in and
Clinton’s White House coffee klatches, Al         received $2,200 directly from the firm,        ment prospects because he is a govern-        publican towns such as Closter and De-             quashed the project.
DeCotiis told an interviewer for The New          while the mayor’s fellow Democrats re-         ment lawyer and needs lawyers who un-         marest sought to retain him.
York Times in 1996 that the time had              ceived another $5,000.                         derstand the complex political and regu-          His knack for attracting political pa-           DeCotiis and N.J.: perfect
come to reduce the influence of big mon-             Christiansen did not return calls seek-     latory realities of the system.               trons from both major parties became the                     together
ey in politics. “If you write a large check,      ing comment. Tucci said in an interview           “We bring the tools to get the job done    hallmark of DeCotiis’ career — from his
you get to be well known in the party and         that he received campaign cash from the        for our clients on the most complex of        chairmanship of the GOP-controlled                    In some ways, M. Robert DeCotiis and
you get a certain amount of access,” he           DeCotiis firm simply because of the            problems,’’ says DeCotiis. “We are result-    Casino Reinvestment Development Au-                the pay-to-play system he has mastered
observed.                                         friendship he developed with partner Eric      oriented problem solvers. It is not unusu-    thority in the Kean years, to his tenure as        are ideally suited to New Jersey, a geo-
   Michael DeCotiis’ twin brother and             Wisler as the two worked at the Essex          al for all sides in the political world to    chief counsel under Democrat Florio, to            graphically compact state with an inces-
former law partner, Joseph DeCotiis, is a         utilities authority.                           seek our counsel.’’                           the years of the DeCotiis firm’s astro-            tuous capital where everyone knows
consultant to the Democratic State Com-              “I needed to solicit funds for my cam-                                                    nomical growth collecting no-bid state             everyone and loyalties accrue rapidly.
mittee. Another DeCotiis partner, former          paign and my friend [Wisler] stepped in              ‘A classic American                     contracts furnished by Christie Whitman               DeCotiis’ record of making big dona-
Kean administration chief counsel                 and helped me raise money,’’ Tucci said.                success story’                       and her Republican appointees.                     tions and getting big government con-
Michael Cole, is a lawyer for the Demo-           “What happened afterward — one con-                                                              “This is one of the things that makes me       tracts reflects, on one level, the fact that
cratic State Committee.                           tract for $25,000. Is that pay to play?”          Bob DeCotiis, a Hasbrouck Heights          different from other attorneys,” DeCotiis          he’s got a lot of friends.
   The DeCotiis’ partners contribute tens            DeCotiis denied that political contri-      native who now lives in a gated commu-        told The Record two decades ago. “I think             “That is probably the most complex
of thousands of dollars every year to both        butions had anything to do with the work       nity in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., began working      it is because I give straight answers; I don’t     part about pay-to-play,’’ said David Re-
Democratic and Republican politicians             they received from agencies where Tuc-         for politicians right after graduating from   get involved in politics. I serve all officials,   bovich, a political scientist at Rider Uni-
across New Jersey.                                ci and Christiansen held positions.            Seton Hall Law School in 1969, when he        not just Democrats or Republicans.”                versity in Lawrenceville. “New Jersey is so
   During the last five years, the firm gave                                                     joined the law firm of longtime Bergen                                                           clubby, so chummy, it’s almost impossible
$154,000 for countywide political races               Advice, contributions,                     County Democratic boss Anthony Ando-                  Firm profits amid                          to operate here without getting sucked
in Bergen County, $136,000 for such                    contracts, and jobs                       ra.                                                   troubles of others                         into the game.”
races in Union County, and $134,000 in                                                              “Some people drink it with their moth-                                                           In New Jersey, Rebovich points out,
Middlesex.                                           The setting for the DeCotiis family’s       er’s milk,’’ said Andora in a recent inter-      Notwithstanding DeCotiis’ vaunted               there are distinct political families that
   DeCotiis’ generosity extended to can-          stunning success is a world where all          view when asked about DeCotiis’ com-          ability to make deals for his political            build up friendships over generations —
didates in mayoral and council races. Jer-        sides come together in a meeting ground        punction for politics.                        friends, critics maintain that the firm has        the Keans, the Byrnes, the Glucks.
sey City candidates received some                 of public and private ambitions that are          Right from the beginning, Andora said,     a history of profiting from financial fias-           “The DeCotiises are just another one of
$43,000. Their counterparts in Rahway,            not easily distinguished.                      DeCotiis showed an uncanny knack for          coes and public-policy boondoggles.                those families,” Rebovich said. “Does that
where billings exceeded $1 million over              At any given time, there are public of-     negotiation and consensus-building. He           Passaic County officials say the law            mean their political donations don’t buy
30 months, received more than $25,000.            ficials in New Jersey who are not only         described the young DeCotiis as energetic     firm prospered amid the havoc at the Pas-          influence? Of course not. It means that re-
In a search of state records, The Record          seeking legal advice from the DeCotiis         and capable and said he moved through         saic County Utilities Authority, the trou-         forming the system will be very hard in
found that DeCotiis lawyers, all told, gave       firm, not only collecting campaign con-        the public domain soliciting business with    bled trash agency.                                 New Jersey.”
to local candidates in at least 85 localities     tributions from the firm, not only award-      perfect ease.                                    Between 1990 and 1997, the DeCoti-                 Mauro Tucci, the Nutley councilman
during the past five years.                       ing no-bid contracts to the firm, but             But the ambitious young man also had       ises billed the agency $6 million, much of         who accepted DeCotiis political dona-
   One longtime government attorney in            thinking about a future job at the firm as     a reformist streak.                           it relating to a proposed incinerator in           tions before approving a $25,000 no-bid
New Jersey, who acknowledged that for             well.                                             Thomas H. Bruinooge, former class-         Passaic killed by Florio in 1991.                  contract to the firm, wonders what all the
years he has contributed to both Repub-              In some cases, the DeCotiis firm has        mate of DeCotiis at Seton Hall, says De-         According to a report published in The          fuss is about:
licans and Democrats as a cost of doing           hired key representatives of their public      Cotiis was one of a handful of young          Record in 1997, the firm, its employees,              “In life, when you’ve got to get some-
business, said small firms like his have          clients immediately after they leave pub-      Bergen-bred lawyers who were intent on        and their relatives had given more than            thing done, you go to your friends, you go
been priced out of the market by the likes        lic service.                                   breaking up the county’s old-boy GOP          $162,000 to Republicans that controlled            to someone you know and trust, ‘’ Tucci
of the DeCotiis firm.                                Jerrold Binney, the former chief of staff   power structure.                              county government.                                 said. “Just because DeCotiis contributes
   “It becomes a bidding war,” said the at-       to Bergen County Executive William                “We were all motivated by Jack                The agency — which at one point had             money, does that make him a bad guy?
torney, who also spoke on condition of            “Pat” Schuber, joined the DeCotiis firm        Kennedy,” Bruinooge recalled. “We had a       racked up $100 million in debt — even                 “We go to DeCotiis because he’s our
anonymity. “You reach a point where               when he left the county in 1999, just one      group of young turks ready to challenge       borrowed money to pay hundreds of                  friend and he does a good job.
you just can’t afford it. We’re squeezed          year after the firm earned hundreds of         the Republican Party bosses.’’ Among De-      thousands of dollars in legal fees to the             “What’s wrong with that?”
out of that.”                                     thousands of dollars arranging the priva-      Cotiis’ early political lights, he pointed    firm.
   Some local officials are particular fa-        tization of Bergen Pines, the largest pub-     out, were progressive Democratic law-            Timothy J. Collins, a Democrat who E-mail: harrington@northjersey.com and ri-
vorites of the DeCotiis cash machine.             lic hospital in the state.                     makers such as state Sen. Alfred Kiefer       was appointed to the trash authority in ley@northjersey.com and pillets@northjer-
   Nutley Township Commissioner Mau-                 In Essex County, former County              and the anti-war Congressman Henry            1999, said he was surprised to learn how sey.com



DeCotiis’ political contributions
A look at where the DeCotiis, FitzPatrick firm has contributed money to political campaigns. Figures are based upon a review of state Election Law Enforcement Commission reports for all statewide and federal candi-
dates between 1999 and the fall of 2003 as well as all candidates in Bergen and Passaic counties and localities in which the DeCotiis firm received legal work.

Recipient                               Contribution         Recipient                                Contribution     Recipient                                 Contribution        Recipient                                 Contribution
Statewide                                                    Leonia                                      $1,000.00     Guttenberg                                   $2,000.00        Brick                                       $14,075.00
State legislators                         $457,181.95        Ridgefield                                  $1,000.00     Union City                                   $2,000.00        Dover Township                              $10,025.00
State political parties, other committees $193,722.40        Hasbrouck Heights                              $500.00    Secaucus                                     $1,000.00        Beachwood                                    $3,550.00
Jim McGreevey                              $60,233.29        Moonachie                                      $500.00    Mercer
                                                                                                                                                                                     Lacey Township                               $2,800.00
Other statewide candidates                 $27,356.66        Oakland                                        $500.00    Hamilton                                      $13,400.00
                                                                                                                                                                                     Stafford Township                            $2,750.00
Federal                                                      River Vale                                     $500.00    Mercer County                                 $11,606.18
Senators/congressmen/ party committees                       Saddle Brook                                   $500.00    Washington Township                            $1,000.00      Little Egg Harbor                            $2,100.00
                                          $170,990.00        Upper Saddle River                             $500.00    Middlesex                                                     Point Pleasant Beach                         $1,300.00
Atlantic                                                     Cliffside Park                                 $400.00    Middlesex County                            $134,050.00       Surf City                                       $300.00
Brigantine                                  $6,800.00        Burlington                                                Edison                                       $51,544.00       Passaic
Atlantic County                             $2,000.00        Burlington County                            $2,050.00    Sayreville                                   $53,171.90       Passaic County                               $72,100.00
Bergen                                                       Camden                                                    North Brunswick                              $14,106.31       Paterson                                      $8,108.00
Bergen County                             $154,264.00        Camden County                               $75,854.45    Old Bridge                                    $3,200.00
                                                                                                                                                                                     Passaic City                                  $1,500.00
North Arlington                            $22,400.00        Cape May                                                  Piscataway                                    $3,000.00
                                                                                                                                                                                     Totowa                                         $800.00
Paramus                                    $10,500.00        Cape May County                              $1,000.00    South Brunswick                               $2,360.00
                                                                                                                                                                                     Somerset
Fort Lee                                    $7,000.00        Cumberland                                                Monmouth
Edgewater                                   $5,200.00        Vineland                                     $8,250.00    Monmouth County                               $40,075.00      Somerset County                              $47,500.00
Hackensack                                  $4,000.00        Essex                                                     Marlboro                                      $19,000.00      Sussex
Englewood                                   $3,750.00        Essex County                               $250,985.72    Manalapan                                     $13,537.59      Sussex County                                  $5,000.00
Lyndhurst                                   $3,500.00        Nutley                                      $16,555.42    Hazlet                                        $12,890.59      Union
Elmwood Park                                $3,500.00        Belleville                                  $16,500.00    Aberdeen                                      $10,500.00      Union County                                $143,150.00
Demarest                                    $3,050.00        Bloomfield                                  $15,000.00    Keyport                                        $8,700.00      Rahway                                       $25,251.50
Closter                                     $2,400.00        Newark                                       $7,200.00    Middletown                                     $1,500.00
                                                                                                                                                                                     Elizabeth                                    $20,000.00
River Edge                                  $2,250.00        Hudson                                                    Morris
                                                                                                                                                                                     Union Township                                $7,000.00
Fairview                                    $2,100.00        Hudson County                               $69,154.55    Morris County                                  $7,467.00
New Milford                                 $2,000.00        Jersey City                                 $43,296.59    Rockaway Township                               $500.00       Garwood                                        $500.00
Wallington                                  $1,500.00        West New York                               $16,000.00    Ocean                                                         Warren
Hillsdale                                   $1,100.00        Hoboken                                     $13,300.00    Ocean County                                  $19,109.80      Warren County                                 $2,500.00
                                                             North Bergen                                 $6,900.00    Lakewood                                      $17,200.00      Total                                     $2,507,472.90
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                    THE RECORD 25


                                                                                                   Published Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003



Seems like clock is always ticking on legal bills
By SHANNON D. HARRINGTON,                                                                                                                                                                               $670,000 in 1998,Collins said.
CLINT RILEY and JEFF PILLETS
STAFF WRITERS                                     Charging for voice mails and deliveries                                                                                                                  The Record found in 1997 that the firm
                                                                                                                                                                                                        made nearly $6 million from the authority
                                                                                                                                                                                                        between 1990 and 1997, while at the same
     The debate was intense.                                                                                                                                                                            time giving more than $162,000 to the Re-
    The Bergen County administration
wanted to hire the DeCotiis, FitzPatrick
                                                   Top 10 legal firms                                                                                                                                   publicans who then controlled Passaic
                                                                                                                                                                                                        County government.
law firm to help negotiate a deal to build         Based on fees paid by Bergen and Passaic counties, excluding independent agencies, such as utilities authorities. Data for                              Collins complained that DeCotiis’ con-
a minor league baseball stadium in Ridge-          2003 is into October.                                                                                                                                tract gave the firm ridiculously fat fees, like
field Park.                                        Firm                                                      2001             2002                2003                 Total                            the $30,000 the firm received for having
    Some members of county’s Board of              DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler (Teaneck)        $485,849.93      $229,094.64        $120,415.51           $835,360.08                          an attorney at authority meetings. Attor-
Freeholders wanted no part of hiring the           Lum, Danzis, Drasco & Positan (Roseland)              $134,788.44      $200,120.41        $175,613.82           $510,522.67                          neys also were billing as much as $450 to
firm.                                              Genova, Burns & Vernoia (Livingston)                   $88,682.93      $167,572.11        $218,159.87           $474,414.91                          put together the meeting agenda, he said.
    The discussion went back and forth in                                                                                                                                                                  Collins, who became chairman in 2000,
the freeholders’ wood-paneled conference           Nowell, Amoroso, Klein & Bierman (Hackensack)         $217,724.11      $162,285.41         $17,689.49           $397,699.01                          said that his persistence in cutting the au-
room for nearly 40 minutes that Wednes-            DeYoe Heissenbuttel (Wayne)                           $149,608.88      $140,413.54        $91,879.61            $381,902.03                          thority’s legal bills has paid off. The au-
day evening in March 2002. Finally, later          Weiner Lesniak (Parsippany)                           $121,523.82      $224,022.73          $3,282.70           $348,829.25                          thority paid DeCotiis $53,651 between
that night, the board voted to hire the law        Connell Foley (Roseland)                              $126,480.68      $119,738.12         $62,571.91           $308,790.71                          January 2001 and this past June.
firm, though only after the team’s would-                                                                                                                                                                  “I think they’ve realized that the cash
                                                   John L. Kraft, Esq. (Florham Park)                    $104,277.54       $78,041.16        $108,060.96           $290,379.66
be owner agreed to make a donation to                                                                                                                                                                   cow and the milk is drying up,” he said.
the county to cover the legal costs.               Carella, Byrne (Roseland)                              $50,610.42       $61,093.02        $149,198.03           $260,901.47                             Bob DeCotiis defended the firm’s work
    What the freeholders didn’t realize was        Sarkisian, Florio & Kenny (Hoboken)                    $85,483.77       $41,792.35        $126,397.93           $253,674.05                          in Bergen, Essex, and Passaic counties.
that, even as they battled against footing         Source: vendor databases supplied by the counties                                                                                                       DeCotiis brushed off suggestions that
the legal bills, the DeCotiis firm was al-                                                                                                                                                              the firm milked the Bergen whistle-blow-
ready on the clock at $150 an hour.               the county’s guidelines for outside legal               But elected officials in towns that have     cused the DeCotiis firm of milking the           er cases for legal fees. “We acted at the di-
    When the firm submitted its first invoice     counsel warn firms against billing for such          hired the DeCotiis firm expressed outrage       case, claiming that his client originally had    rection of our client in this matter,” he
to the county in the stadium matter a             conferences.                                         when shown what the town was billed for.        offered to settle the case for less than a       said.
month later, partner Eric D. Wisler had              ä One DeCotiis lawyer charged Mon-                   “They were nickel and diming us to           third of the $1.4 million he eventually re-         He also denied overstaffing meetings in
billed two hours for attending the meeting,       mouth County’s Manalapan Township for                death,” Woodcliff Lake Councilman John          ceived.                                          Essex County or racking up needless bill-
where he sat among the audience. He               doing more than 18 hours of work in a sin-           Glaser said after reviewing DeCotiis’              “My sense is that the only people ben-        able hours, as some have suggested.
                   even billed 12 minutes for     gle day in January 2001, costing taxpayers           $3,431 in bond counsel invoices from            efiting from this is the DeCotiis firm,”            “We bill for services rendered, which
                   a conference that day          $2,123. Just a week earlier, the same                2001, in which attorneys on numerous oc-        Mullin said in December 2001. “It’s a mat-       we provide in as cost-effective and efficient
                   with another DeCotiis at-      lawyer billed the township for a 15.3-hour           casions charged the town for retrieving         ter of record the firm is a major political      a manner as possible, and also exercise
                   torney to discuss the ball-    workday. Those bills and others prompted             and forwarding phone messages.                  contributor, and I think that’s important to     billing judgment prior to the submission of
                   park issue.                    a township committeeman to ask when                     “Leaving a voice mail, forwarding a          note.”                                           our legal bills to any of our clients, public
                      More than a year later,     the lawyer had time to sleep and eat.                voice mail — that’s crazy,” said Glaser,           DeCotiis partner S. Lee Cohen at the          and private,” DeCotiis wrote.
                   one freeholder who at-            ä Several DeCotiis attorneys routinely            who had not seen the itemized invoices          time called Mullin’s suggestion “ludi-              As for the criticism in Passaic County,
                   tended that meeting was        billed their government clients as much as           until a reporter pointed them out to him.       crous,” saying that county officials closely     DeCotiis said the firm helped the utilities
MOLA               scratching his head when       $230 an hour for retrieving, forwarding, or          “Shame on us because [we approved               monitored the case’s progress and made           authority wade through a series of com-
                   told about the bill by a re-   leaving voice mail messages. Retrieving              them].”                                         him justify every addition to the firm’s con-    plex legal issues. Then-Gov. Jim Florio’s
porter.                                           one message often cost taxpayers $23.                   Another public official went a step fur-     tract.                                           decision to cancel the incinerator project
    “How can you bill somebody when               Three rounds of phone tag, $69. In one               ther and argued that the more than $2.5            The firm’s bills have become the subject      opened up the authority to a host of law-
you’re only discussing whether they               case, a message from a DeCotiis partner to           million that the DeCotiis firm has con-         of controversy in two other North Jersey         suits from contractors and other parties.
should be hired?” Freeholder Richard              one of the firm’s associates cost a school           tributed to elected officials and party or-     counties.                                        The firm also had to help the county se-
Mola asked.                                       board $14.50. But because the fees were              ganizations in New Jersey during the past          In Essex County, DiVincenzo called for        cure waste disposal contracts in the incin-
    The matter was part of nearly $26.6 mil-      lumped into a bond issue, at an average              five years has restrained the oversight by      the slashing of legal fees at the county’s       erator’s absence, he said.
lion in billings by the Teaneck-based De-         4.87 percent interest rate over 19 years,            the beneficiaries of those contributions.       utilities and improvement authorities,              DeCotiis was also staunch in his de-
Cotiis firm to at least 128 government en-        that message ultimately will cost taxpayers             “They are buying the ability to bill what-   where DeCotiis billed a combined $2.7            fense of the firm on other billing issues
tities in New Jersey during a 2½-year pe-         $35.                                                 ever they want,” said Stuart J. Moskovitz,      million in 2001 and 2002.                        raised by The Record.
riod starting January 2001, The Record               ä A paralegal last fall charged the Hud-          a former mayor of Manalapan, where De-             Multiple DeCotiis lawyers — charging             Asked why Wisler billed for attending
found in a study of work around the state         son County Improvement Authority $75                 Cotiis attorneys billed a total of nearly       between $175 and $265 per hour — would           the Bergen freeholder meeting that took
by the firm, now known as DeCotiis, Fitz-         per hour to pick up one packet of docu-              $400,000 in 2001 and 2002 while con-            attend and bill for authority meetings, said     place before the firm was hired, DeCotiis
Patrick, Cole & Wisler.                           ments and to drop off another at the coun-           tributing more than $13,500 to the cam-         DiVincenzo, who succeeded disgraced              said Wisler attended to “identify for the
    The newspaper reviewed the firm’s             ty courthouse. The tasks took a combined             paign funds of township committee mem-          Republican County Executive James Tre-           Freeholder Board the various legal and fi-
itemized legal bills in about three dozen of      four hours to complete and cost the coun-            bers.                                           ffinger, the single largest individual benefi-   nancing issues, as we had experienced
those towns, counties, and government             ty $300.                                                Between 1995 and 2002, the firm              ciary of the DeCotiis firm’s campaign cash       them in other baseball projects.”
agencies.                                            Managing Partner M. Robert DeCotiis               racked up $1 million in legal fees to defend    during the past five years.                         Audiotapes of the freeholder meeting
    Here’s what we found:                         and other attorneys at the firm declined re-         former Bergen County acting Prosecutor             “In effect, DeCotiis was running the au-      show that Wisler addressed the board only
    ä The firm billed the Essex County Util-      peated requests to be interviewed for this           Charles Buckley from lawsuits claiming he       thority,” acting utilities authority Executive   once regarding the baseball project, and
ities Authority as much as $262,000 a             story, and would only answer questions in            retaliated against three subordinates who       Director Elmer J. Herrmann Jr. said.             that was simply to name other baseball sta-
month during 2001. This month, first-year         writing.                                             aided an internal probe. The county free-          Timothy J. Collins, a Passaic County          dium deals the firm had helped negotiate.
County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo de-               In a written statement, DeCotiis said the         holders, despite some grumbling on the          Utilities Authority commissioner, said he           DeCotiis said the 18.3-hour workday
scribed those legal expenses as “totally out      firm’s charges in the bills questioned by            board, approved the firm’s bills.               found out-of-control legal spending when         billed to Manalapan by former DeCotiis
of control.” As many as nine DeCotiis             The Record were “accurate and appropri-                 The firm lost one of the three cases         he was appointed to the authority board in       attorney Peter A. Tucci Jr. was an accurate
lawyers and seven paralegals were billing         ate.”                                                when a jury awarded former Assistant            1999.                                            reflection of multiple tasks the attorney did
the authority in one month.                          He added: “We presume all of our                  Prosecutor Robert L. Hennessey $1.5 mil-           Despite losing virtually all of its revenue   for the town that day.
    ä A sampling of invoices paid by Bergen       clients review our bills prior to payment            lion. The county ultimately settled all three   in 1997 — the result of a U.S. Supreme              Regarding the paralegals who billed
County showed DeCotiis lawyers billed 57          and, if there are questions regarding a bill,        cases for a combined total of more than         Court decision that struck down counties’        four hours at $75 an hour to pick up one
times at the rate of $150 an hour for con-        our clients bring them to our attention and          $2.4 million.                                   monopoly on trash disposal — the utilities       document packet and drop off another,
ferences among themselves, even though            they are resolved.”                                     Hennessey’s attorney, Neil Mullin, ac-       authority paid the DeCotiis firm nearly                                  See BILLS Page 26



DeCotiis fees
A look at where the law firm of DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler made its money from government clients between January 2001 and June 2003. The figures are based on The Record's public records requests to 556
governing agencies in New Jersey.
Government agency                                                Total      Government agency                                         Total      Government agency                                            Total
State agencies                                                              Hackensack Board of Education                             $408.27 Middletown Township Sewerage Authority                       $19,000.00
State of New Jersey                                        $3,916,535.90 Camden                                                                  Ocean Twp. Sewerage Authority                             $17,000.00
New Jersey Turnpike Authority/Highway Authority            $2,039,814.37 Pollution Control Financing Authority                      $63,795.22 Western Monmouth Utilities Authority                        $12,505.29
New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority                  $638,130.43 Cape May                                                                Middletown Township                                        $6,705.52
University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey             $108,352.80 Wildwood City                                            $268,399.76 Morris
Regional agencies                                                           Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority           $36,014.90 Washington Township                                         $71,546.47
Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties                  $1,532,137.80 Cumberland                                                              Morris County                                             $38,745.03
North Jersey District Water Supply Commission                $800,250.30 Vineland City                                            $720,443.94 Rockaway Township                                            $13,058.42
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission                  $160,000.00 Essex                                                                   Montville Township                                        $11,628.06
Atlantic                                                                    Essex County Utilities Authority                     $2,544,606.60 Chester Borough                                              $3,595.79
Atlantic City                                                $396,561.50 Essex County Improvement Authority                       $390,721.21 Dover Town                                                    $1,406.85
Brigantine City                                              $151,846.44 Bloomfield Township                                      $349,743.75 Netcong Borough                                                 $425.08
Absecon City                                                  $30,818.00 Belleville Township                                      $114,797.94 Wharton Borough                                                 $315.00
Bergen                                                                      Nutley Township                                         $18,994.02 Ocean
Bergen County                                                $771,890.84 Essex County                                                 $676.83 Lakewood Township                                            $99,676.13
Edgewater Municipal Utilities Authority                      $372,366.09 Hudson                                                                  Ocean County                                              $94,530.63
Englewood City                                               $232,618.85 Hudson County Improvement Authority                      $755,025.83 Brick Township                                               $56,138.35
Fort Lee Borough                                             $116,275.76 Jersey City Redevelopment Agency                         $273,943.94 Brick Twp. Municipal Utilities Authority                     $45,916.79
Paramus Borough                                               $74,821.85 Hudson County                                            $202,490.72
                                                                                                                                                 Lacey Township Municipal Utilities Authority              $36,549.61
Alpine Borough                                                $70,515.15 West New York Town                                       $184,985.59
                                                                                                                                                 Little Egg Harbor Municipal Utilities Authority           $34,810.90
Demarest Borough                                              $59,795.38 Jersey City                                              $129,084.64
                                                                                                                                                 Point Pleasant Beach Borough                              $32,259.71
Wallington Borough                                            $51,307.46 Hoboken City                                               $38,527.71
                                                                                                                                                 Lakewood Twp. Municipal Utilities Authority               $30,710.06
River Vale Township                                           $49,571.11 North Bergen Township                                      $28,384.69
                                                                                                                                                 Little Egg Harbor Township                                $30,374.85
Rochelle Park Township                                        $48,152.03 Hudson County Community College                            $26,156.14
                                                                                                                                                 Toms River Regional Board of Education                    $24,725.00
Teaneck Township                                              $46,933.47 Kearny Town                                                $12,426.08
                                                                                                                                                 Dover Township                                            $24,679.25
River Edge Borough                                            $38,390.57 Guttenberg Town                                             $5,695.72
                                                                                                                                                 Tuckerton Borough                                         $22,029.03
Fairview Borough                                              $35,500.83 Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority                   $4,167.00
                                                                                                                                                 Beachwood Borough                                         $16,072.42
Edgewater Borough                                             $32,526.71 Harrison Town                                               $1,452.75
                                                                                                                                                 Lacey Township                                             $9,335.98
Ridgefield Borough                                            $31,338.47 Mercer
                                                                                                                                                 Stafford Township                                          $8,629.30
Bergen County Utilities Authority                             $23,499.40 Mercer County Improvement Authority                      $236,603.20
Westwood Borough                                              $22,739.86 Hamilton Township                                          $61,718.04   Ocean Township                                             $6,737.53
Hillsdale Borough                                             $19,323.75 Hamilton Twp. Board of Education                           $39,681.18 Eagleswood Township                                          $6,209.20
New Milford Borough                                           $17,817.88 Washington Township                                        $35,621.35 Surf City Borough                                            $4,801.16
Hackensack City                                               $17,771.63 Middlesex                                                               Passaic
South Hackensack Township                                     $16,953.90 Sayreville Borough                                      $1,030,422.38 Passaic County Utilities Authority                          $53,651.52
Teterboro Borough                                             $16,025.42 Edison Township                                          $755,846.24    Totowa Borough                                             $7,099.87
Upper Saddle River Board of Education                         $15,178.06 Middlesex County Improvement Authority                   $561,993.32    Paterson City                                                $729.20
Tenafly Borough                                               $13,215.24 Piscataway Township                                        $65,066.11   Somerset
Closter Borough                                               $11,668.69 North Brunswick Township                                   $51,594.27 Franklin Township                                         $930,570.10
Englewood Cliffs Borough                                      $10,460.39 Old Bridge Municipal Utilities Authority                   $36,638.83 Somerset Raritan Valley Sewerage Authority                  $10,760.52
Moonachie Borough                                              $9,947.47 South Brunswick Township                                    $1,702.02 Union
Fort Lee Board of Education                                    $8,275.49 Monmouth                                                                Rahway City                                             $979,988.24
Garfield City                                                  $6,359.40 Manalapan Township                                       $416,049.37    Union County Utilities Authority                        $905,853.20
Lyndhurst Township                                             $5,587.27 Hazlet Township                                          $404,010.26 Union County                                               $173,529.35
Teaneck Community Charter School                               $3,969.75 Marlboro Township                                        $211,995.60    Elizabeth City                                          $100,755.82
Woodcliff Lake Borough                                         $3,448.94 Aberdeen Township                                        $184,091.20 Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority                             $40,630.03
Harrington Park Borough                                        $2,387.45 Monmouth County                                          $169,540.58 Union Township                                               $27,649.87
Leonia Borough                                                 $2,337.66 Keyport Borough                                            $83,918.91 Garwood Borough                                              $6,824.35
Garfield Housing Authority                                       $855.31 Millstone Township Board of Education                      $29,621.14 Total                                                   $26,599,491.80
26 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                            TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2004


                                                                                                Published Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003



Bills: Charging taxpayers for meetings, voice mails, deliveries
From Page 25                               Washington who, among other                                                                                                           the bills cited by The Record ap-        DeCotiis firm’s bills led to a dou-
DeCotiis said that the firm’s prac-        things, teaches billing ethics to         Spend money to make money                                                                   peared to be at variance with the        bling of the township’s legal costs
tice is to use messenger services          budding attorneys.                        A look at the five counties where the DeCotiis law firm made the                            usual pattern of bills submitted to      in 2001. DeCotiis became town-
“where appropriate and available,”             Many critics argue that too often     most money while contributing to the campaign funds of elected of-                          the county by outside law firms.         ship attorney in early 2001.
but that there are instances “that         such charges are not questioned by        ficials in those counties. The figures, gathered from public records,                          But she acknowledged that not            By October, Moskovitz said, the
require us to use our firm’s parale-       the public officials responsible for      include fees paid by towns, school boards, utilities authorities, and                       every bill received the full scrutiny    township’s legal bills were ap-
gals for the delivery and filing of le-    approving bills.                          county governments.                                                                         it should have. The problem, she         proaching $400,000, nearly double
gal documents.”                                Local governments often “lack                                                                                                     said, was a lack of manpower.            Manalapan’s $207,000 legal budg-
   Asked about the voice mail              sophistication in negotiating for le-                                 Fees*                           Contributions*                     “The challenge has always been        et. The DeCotiis firm itself had
billings, DeCotiis said the firm pro-      gal fees or reviewing legal bills,”       County              Jan. 2001 - June 2003                Jan. 1999 - Nov. 2003              the compliance piece,” said Ran-         billed $233,000, he said.
vides detailed bills to its clients that   said Lester Brickman, a professor         Essex                   $3,419,540.35                         $306,241.14                   dall, who was elected to the coun-          “We were going way over budg-
accurately reflect “the time appro-        at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo                                                                                                       ty Freeholder Board in November          et on legal work,” Moskovitz said.
priately spent by our attorney and         School of Law. Brickman has tes-          Middlesex               $2,503,263.17                         $261,432.21                   and will take office next month. “It        Moskovitz, a former assistant at-
the tasks performed.”                      tified before Congress and often          Bergen                  $2,260,235.80                         $233,914.00                   could have taken an [in-house] at-       torney general in Pennsylvania,
   Some local officials who were           lectures on legal fee abuses. “Pri-       Union                   $2,235,230.86                         $195,901.50                   torney almost full time to scrutinize    said even more startling were the
asked about the voice mail billings        vate-sector employers of legal serv-      Hudson                  $1,662,340.81                         $153,651.14                   all the bills and try to achieve com-    number of hours that as many as
also said they saw nothing inap-           ices will typically closely examine       * Figures for fees and contributions may not be complete. Campaign committees are not       pliance.’’ Randall’s successor,          three attorneys billed for individual
propriate with them. In Mercer             legal bills,” he said, adding that the    required to disclose the source of donations under $400. In addition, The Record's survey   County Counsel Esther Suarez,            invoices. One attorney alone,
County’s Washington Township —             difference partially lies in the fact     did not include every municipality in the counties.                                         said through a spokeswoman that          Moskovitz noted, was billing the
where phone tag with township of-          that public officials “are spending                                                                                                   she personally reviews virtually         township for 18-hour, 15-hour,
ficials was billed more than once at       other people’s money.”                   mediately after the borough con-               review of DeCotiis invoices found             every legal bill submitted to the        and 11-hour days.
the rate of $230 an hour, Chief Fi-            The Record found one instance        tacted the firm.                               that the guidelines apparently were           county.                                     Consider Jan. 10, 2001, for ex-
nancial Officer Diane Baldino said         where a $4,600 overpayment to               The Record found that contracts             not always enforced.                             Nonetheless, DeCotiis is still        ample: Former DeCotiis attorney
she has seen other firms charge for        DeCotiis went undetected from            some local governments had ap-                    Despite Bergen County’s warn-              billing the county for intra-office      Peter A. Tucci billed 18.3 hours on
the same task. Likewise, Woodcliff         both ends.                               proved with DeCotiis listed only               ing that firms should not bill for in-        conferences. In three bills submit-      a day that Tucci was preparing for
Lake Borough Administrator                     In June, officials in Englewood      broad expectations of the firm. But            tra-office conferences, a look at just        ted by the firm in 2003, lawyers at      and attending a township commit-
Gene Vinci said he saw no prob-            Cliffs, where DeCotiis was hired as      some governments do send law                   13 DeCotiis bills found 57 in-                the firm billed 15 times for discus-     tee meeting to hammer out munic-
lem with the charges to his bor-           bond counsel, sent the firm a            firms specific billing guidelines.             stances where DeCotiis lawyers                sions amongst themselves.                ipal service agreements with sever-
ough for voice mail tasks.                 $5,120.50 check to pay for a                Bergen County officials warn                billed for talking with other                    Bob DeCotiis contended that           al private developments.
   “The clock is always ticking for        $512.50 invoice.                         law firms in a list of guidelines not          lawyers at the firm. In nine of those         Bergen’s guidelines allowed for in-         When that bill and others be-
attorneys, whether they’re spend-              When asked by a reporter about       to bill them for time attorneys of                               instances,      two         tra-office conferences to be billed      came a public issue and were re-
ing the time listening to your voice       the goof, borough Deputy Tax Col-        the firm spend talking among                                     lawyers were each           when they “further the representa-       quested to be reviewed by the pub-
mail messages — I guess it doesn’t         lector Janice Romano blamed it on        themselves, such as when one at-                                 billing $150 per            tion of the client.”                     lic, Moskovitz said the firm even
matter, because I guess they’re still      a misplaced decimal point. Asked         torney briefs another on a meeting                               hour for the same              Asked why, as in the one case,        billed for time it spent deleting
investing the time,” he said.              who would be responsible for             or new development in the case.                                  meeting. And in             attorneys would bill different times     what it argued was confidential in-
   Legal billing experts say that          noticing the overpayment, Ro-            Bergen’s billing guidelines call such                            one of those                for the same meeting, he said, “dif-     formation in those bills. In some
billing for such minor tasks, on the       mano said, “I would think that           conferences “an internal law firm                                meetings,       one         ferences in attorney time reflect the    instances the information redacted
surface, is legal and considered ac-       morally if they get an overpayment,      management tool” that taxpayers                                  lawyer billed half          nature of the work performed and         was the names of public officials
ceptable under the American Bar            they would notify us.”                   shouldn’t have to pay for.                     RANDALL           an hour for a con-          the billing judgment of the super-       with whom the attorneys had spo-
Association’s billing guidelines.              “We’ve gotten no notification           Union County tells lawyers that                               ference with his            vising attorney.”                        ken.
   Attorneys are often told to             from them of an overpayment,”            if more than 100 pages of photo-               fellow partner while the other                   Critics contend that a lack of           “We not only paid for the firm’s
round up the time they spend on a          said Romano, adding that the bor-        copying is needed, the copying                 billed for only 12 minutes.                   scrutiny of bills can stem from the      research, we paid for [the attor-
task to the nearest tenth of an            ough auditor likely would have           should be done by the county.                     Former Bergen County Counsel               close political ties and generous        neys] to redact bills,” Moskovitz
hour. But rounding up means you            caught it at the end of the year.        Photocopying costs often add hun-              Elizabeth Randall, who developed              political contributions that the firm    said at a Township Committee
have worked at least 50 percent of             Bob DeCotiis said the overpay-       dreds, if not thousands, of dollars            the guidelines while running the              makes to elected leaders.                meeting in 2001. “And make no
the billing increment, said Lisa G.        ment “was not identified initially       to a law firm’s annual bills.                  eight-attorney staff from 1999 un-               One example is Manalapan,             mistake, that time was not spent
Lerman, a law professor at the             by our billing department,” and             But even in counties that do set            til Democrats took control of                 population 33,400, where former          on protecting the township; it was
Catholic University of America in          that the $4,600 was refunded im-         specific guidelines, The Record’s              county government last year, said             Mayor Moskovitz claims that the          spent protecting them.”


The DeCotiis law firm
Supporters and detractors of DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler say that the firm's stock in trade is its far-reaching connections and its ability to use those connections to get things done. Many members of the firm have
either government employment or a political career in their backgrounds. Here's a brief look at some of those connections:

M. Robert DeCotiis                         Clinton to serve as U.S. represen-       Born: Paterson                                 County Utilities Authority until              ä Deputy chief counsel to Gov.           ä New Jersey assistant attorney
                                           tative to the United Nations Gen-        Graduate: Seton Hall Law                       2003, when the firm was stripped              Jim Florio, 1992-1994.                   general, litigation, 1995-1998.
(managing partner)                         eral Assembly, 1995.                                                                    of the position and renamed out-
                                                                                    School, 1991.                                                                                ä Member, Governor's Study               ä Director, Division of Law, New
Age: 62                                    ä Member, Democratic National                                                           side counsel.                                 Commission on Discrimination in          Jersey Attorney General's Office,
                                                                                    ä Partner at DeCotiis law firm,
Born: Hackensack                           Committee. New Jersey finance            1994-2002, where he served as                  ä Lead attorney for EnCap Golf                Public Works Procurement and             1998-2002.
Graduate: Seton Hall Law                   committee co-chairman of Clin-           general counsel to numerous                    Inc., a Florida-based company                 Contracting, 1989-1992.                  A sampling of other partners
School, 1969; president, Law Stu-          ton/Gore presidential campaigns          public agencies, including the                 selected by the state to transform            ä Served as the top deputy coun-         and "of counsel" members of
dent Division of the American Bar          in 1992 and 1996.                        New Jersey Highway Authority,                  six landfills in Lyndhurst, North             sel to both Michael Cole and M.          the DeCotiis law firm:
Association, 1968.                         ä Served on the finance commit-          the North Jersey District Water                Arlington, and Rutherford into a              Robert DeCotiis when they were           Benjamin Clarke (partner), deputy
ä First municipal attorney ap-             tee of numerous political candi-         Supply Commission, the Joint                   massive golf resort community                 chief counsel to Republican and          attorney general and assistant at-
pointment, Little Ferry, 1971.             dates in New Jersey, including as        Meeting of Union and Essex                     with residential and commercial               Democratic governors, respec-            torney general in charge of litiga-
                                           chairman and treasurer of former         Counties, and the Edgewater Mu-                development.                                  tively.
ä Commissioner and vice chair-                                                                                                                                                                                            tion, 1989-1995.
man, New Jersey State Election             Hudson County Executive Robert           nicipal Utilities Authority.                   Jonathan L. Williams
                                           Janiszewski's failed gubernatorial       ä Appointed by Governor Mc-
                                                                                                                                                                                 Louis N. Rainone                         J. Sheldon Cohen (partner), coun-
Law Enforcement Commission,                                                                                                        (partner)                                                                              cilman, Borough of Fort Lee, New
1980-1984.                                 campaign, 1997.                          Greevey as deputy executive di-                                                              (partner)
                                                                                                                                   Age: 55                                                                                Jersey, 1987-1989.
ä Chairman and member, New                 ä Co-chairman of the executive fi-       rector of the Port Authority of New                                                          Age: 47
                                                                                                                                   Born: Bedford, Ohio                                                                    William R. Lundsten (partner),
Jersey Casino Reinvestment De-             nance committee for the Assem-           York and New Jersey, 2002-03.                                                                Born: New York, N.Y.                     chief, Trial Section, New Jersey
velopment Authority, 1985-1992.            bly Democrats, 2003.                     ä Chief counsel to Governor Mc-                Graduate: Ohio Northern Univer-               Graduate: Seton Hall Law                 Division of Criminal Justice, 1983-
ä Chief counsel to Gov. Jim Flo-           ä Brother of M. Robert DeCotiis          Greevey, 2003-current.                         sity Law School, 1975.                        School, 1980.                            85.
rio, 1992-1993.                            and uncle of Michael and Joseph          ä Son of M. Robert DeCotiis,                   ä Deputy attorney general of New              ä City of Rahway assistant city at-      Jerrold B. Binney (partner), chief
ä Served on the national finance           DeCotiis.                                nephew of Alfred DeCotiis, and                 Jersey, 1980-1986.                            torney, 1984-1992, and city attor-       counsel to former Bergen County
committee of Democratic presi-                                                      twin brother of Joseph DeCotiis.               ä Deputy attorney general in
                                           Michael R. Cole                                                                         charge of litigation, New Jersey,
                                                                                                                                                                                 ney, 1992-current.                       Executive William Schuber.
dential candidate Gary Hart,                                                        Joseph M. DeCotiis                                                                           ä Township attorney, Township of         Frank Huttle III (partner), husband
1984.                                      (managing partner)                                                                      1986-1989.
                                                                                    (managing partner)                                                                           Edison, 1994-current.                    of Bergen County Freeholder
ä Served on the finance commit-            Age: 59                                                                                 ä General counsel, Union County                                                        Board Chairwoman Valerie Huttle.
                                                                                    Age: 39                                                                                      ä Township attorney, Township of
tee of numerous political candi-           Born: Elizabeth                                                                         Utilities Authority, 1989-1994.               Franklin, Somerset County, 1999-         Steven C. Mannion (partner), as-
dates in New Jersey, including             Graduate: Rutgers Law School,            Born: Paterson                                 ä General counsel, Marlboro                   current.                                 sistant Essex County counsel,
Gov. Jim Florio.                           1970.                                    Graduate: Seton Hall Law                       Township, Monmouth County.                                                             1996-1999, Essex County coun-
                                                                                                                                                                                 ä Special counsel: City of Passa-
ä Co-chairman of the executive fi-         ä Director of the New Jersey Divi-       School, 1994.                                  ä Son-in-law of M. Robert De-                                                          sel 2002-03.
                                                                                                                                                                                 ic, 1990-1991; North Bergen
nance committee for the Assem-             sion of Law, 1981-1986.                  ä Partner at DeCotiis law firm,                Cotiis.                                       MUA, 1989-1992; Borough of               Catherine E. Tamasik (partner),
bly Democrats, 2003.                                                                1994-current, where he has spe-                                                                                                       Essex County counsel, 1995-
                                           ä First assistant New Jersey attor-
                                                                                    cialized in public procurement
                                                                                                                                   William Harla                                 Red Bank, 1992-1993; and Town-
Alfred C. DeCotiis                         ney general, 1983-1986.
                                                                                    and contracting, public facility pri-          (partner)
                                                                                                                                                                                 ship of Edison, 1990-1994.               1999.
(senior partner)                           ä Chief counsel to Gov. Thomas                                                                                                        ä Former law partner of Assembly         William P. Schuber (of counsel),
                                                                                    vatization, and redevelopment is-              Age: 41
                                           H. Kean, 1986-1989.                                                                                                                   Speaker Alan Karcher, D-Middle-          Bergen County executive, 1991-
Age: 60                                                                             sues.                                          Born: Milford, Conn.
                                           ä Member, New Jersey Supreme                                                                                                          sex 1986-89, whose daughter              2002.
Born: Hackensack                                                                    ä Consultant to New Jersey De-                 Graduate: Rutgers Law School,                 Ellen Karcher serves as Marlboro
                                           Court Disciplinary Board, 1993-                                                                                                                                                Ronald E. Calissi (of counsel), as-
Graduate: Villanova Law School,                                                     mocratic State Committee, 2003.                1979                                          Township Council president.
                                           current.                                                                                                                                                                       sociate executive dean, Fairleigh
1968.                                                                               ä Son of M. Robert DeCotiis,                   ä Deputy attorney general, 1979-              Karcher, D-Marlboro, defeated            Dickinson University, 2001-cur-
                                           ä Married to New Jersey
ä Assistant U.S. attorney, District                                                 nephew of Alfred DeCotiis, and                 1986.                                         Republican state Senate Presi-           rent, and director, Department of
                                           Supreme Court Justice Jaynee             twin brother of Michael DeCotiis.
of New Jersey, 1969-1971.                  LaVecchia, who was state Bank-                                                          ä Assistant counsel to Gov.                   dent John O. Bennett III for his         Public Safety, Bergen County,
ä Special counsel to the New Jer-          ing and Insurance commissioner           Eric D. Wisler                                 Thomas H. Kean; special assis-                12th District Senate seat.               1991-2001.
sey Assembly Committee on In-              before Gov. Christie Whitman ap-                                                        tant to chief legal counsel to                Jeffrey J. Miller                        James R. Napolitano (of counsel),
dependent Authorities and Com-                                                      (managing partner)
                                           pointed her to the Supreme                                                              Kean, 1986-1987.                                                                       president, Commerce
missions, 1984.                                                                     Age: 47                                                                                      (partner)                                Bank/North, and vice chairman,
                                           Court.                                                                                  ä Assistant attorney general for
ä Vice chairman, New Jersey                                                         Born: New York, N.Y.                           administrative procedures and                 Age: 44                                  Hackensack Economic Develop-
Transportation Trust Fund Author- Michael R. DeCotiis                               Graduate: Rutgers Law School,                  administrative agency advice,                 Born: Orange                             ment Commission.
ity, 1984-1988.                     (former managing partner)                       1981.                                          state Attorney General's Office,              Graduate: Fordham University             Edward N. FitzPatrick (partner)
ä Appointed by President Bill       Age: 39                                         ä Lead general counsel at Essex                1987-1992.                                    School of Law.                           died in January 2000.
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                               THE RECORD 27


                                                                                           Published Sunday, Jan. 18, 2004



Dead man giving: political donations from late lawyer
                                                                                                                        ments signed by each contributor            Cotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole and Wisler   said Holman, of Public Citizen. “I
Experts say it shows holes in campaign-financing laws                                                                   acknowledging they were volun-              PC Esqs.”                              am quite astounded to hear some-
                                                                                                                        tarily giving that money.                      As reported, the contributions      thing like this is going on in New
By SHANNON D. HARRINGTON                nancial backers are playing fast        ble, a former general counsel to the       “What we should see on the re-           would violate rules prohibiting di-    Jersey.”
and CLINT RILEY                         and loose with rules designed to        Federal Elections Commission            ports [filed by campaign commit-            rect contributions from a partner-        DeCotiis said in his written
STAFF WRITERS                           limit the influence of any one indi-    who now heads the Center for Re-        tees] is not the name of the part-          ship and the $25,000 contribution      statement that all campaign contri-
                                        vidual or group over the demo-          sponsive Politics in Washington,        nership, but the name of the part-          limit that any single individual or    butions from the firm were made
   As an attorney with the politi-      cratic process.                         D.C. “There is a very serious ques-     ners,” Herrmann said. “The name             entity can make to a legislative       with the full knowledge and ap-
cally juiced Teaneck law firm that         “If [regulators] turn their back     tion of who is making these contri-     that shows up on the report has to          leadership committee.                  proval of the partners to whom the
bears his name, Edward N. Fitz-         on this, they are turning their back    butions. It’s a question of how vol-    be that person’s money.”                       Through a spokesman, the De-        money was attributed.
Patrick often joined his partners in    on the entire campaign-finance          untary a contribution from a dead          But those rules often are not be-        Cotiis firm said it had paperwork         After the newspaper’s inquiries,
doling out contributions to New         system in New Jersey,” said Craig       man can be.”                            ing followed.                               on the correct attribution among       the firm retained a top New Jersey
Jersey’s politicians.                   Holman of the government watch-            Representatives of the DeCotiis         In addition to the more than             the partners. But neither the com-     campaign finance attorney to offer
   The lifelong Republican gave to      dog group Public Citizen.               firm blamed the FitzPatrick contri-     3,000 contributions attributed to           mittee nor the firm would share        an opinion on the discrepancies.
governors and senators, county ex-         ELEC’s executive director ac-        butions on the campaign commit-         partnerships on the ELEC Web                that paperwork with The Record,           “It’s not uncommon for there to
ecutives, and town councilmen. He       knowledged there are problems.          tees, saying officials mistakenly at-   site, The Record found dozens               and the state ELEC Web site con-       be the kind of errors you are find-
gave long after his political career    He said his staff of two field inves-   tributed money to FitzPatrick that      more examples in non-electronic             tinues to show the contributions as    ing,” said Angelo J. Genova, a part-
ended as mayor of Allendale.            tigators and three compliance offi-     should have been allocated among        records filed by smaller campaign           having come from the partnership,      ner in the Livingston law firm of
   And, if state campaign finance       cers is simply overwhelmed by the       the surviving partners.                 funds in towns and school districts         a violation of its rules.              Genova, Burns & Vernoia. “There
records are to be believed, Fitz-       more than 25,000 campaign-fi-              ELEC records continue to show        around the state.                              A review by The Record of the       are deficiencies in the law, there
Patrick continued to give more          nance reports filed each year.          FitzPatrick as the contributor, a          The ELEC Web site cautions               firm’s $2.5 million in contributions   are deficiencies at ELEC and there
than a year after he died.                 “This agency needs to be better      month after reporters first raised      that the database is subject to cler-       since 1999 showed that more than       is inadequate sophistication by
   FitzPatrick died in January          funded, better staffed, and better      the issue.                              ical error. But a spot-check of             half was attributed in campaign-fi-    many of the people using the [state
2000. Still, in the months following    equipped,” said Frederick M. Her-          Among the 3,000 contributions        dozens of paper records submitted           nance records to the partnership,      campaign finance] system.”
his death — from April 2000             rmann, whose agency has a $2.9          that ELEC records attribute to          by the campaigns showed that the            not to individual partners.               Genova, who serves as special
through June 2001 — three differ-       million annual budget that has re-      partnerships are donations from         database was accurate in most cas-                                                 counsel to the state Democratic
ent Democratic campaign funds in        mained stagnant the past several        some of the state’s top law firms,      es. The contributions were still at-        Dead man’s donations                   committee, said he does not believe
Hudson County cited FitzPatrick         years. “It’s crucial to properly sup-   developers, lobbyists, and liquor       tributed to partnerships and limit-         an ‘innocent mistake’                  anyone at the DeCotiis firm inten-
as having contributed money eight       port the agency that supports the       distributors. Nearly 200 of those       ed-liability companies, not the part-                                              tionally violated any state law or
times, for a total of $8,250.           law.”                                   contributions are attributed to De-     ners themselves.                                A handful of campaign officials    regulation. Any improperly report-
   The law firm’s partners and the         Further, Herrmann said ELEC          Cotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler,        For example, on Oct. 25, 2002,           contacted by The Record said the       ed contributions, including those in
committees who reported the con-        lacks expertise in how various busi-    the largest single component of the     the state Democratic committee re-          DeCotiis firm provided allocation      FitzPatrick’s name, are at worst
tributions called the reports honest    ness partnerships and limited-lia-      problematic entries.                    ported receiving a combined                 letters identifying the source of the  “technical non-compliance.”
mistakes, which went unnoticed          bility companies work.                                                          $45,000 from two companies that             contributions. Officials said the         “The fact is there is disclosure
until recently, when reporters             “I’m not an expert in this field     Attempts to control                     had contracted with Bergen Coun-            committees simply didn’t disclose      that the dollars came from this law
pointed them out. No one would          and no one at ELEC is,” he said.        big money’s influence                   ty in 1998 to run the county’s pub-         that information.                      firm,” Genova said. “Not everyone
be foolish enough to believe that          Being able to measure contrib-                                               lic hospital. The companies,                    In the case of the FitzPatrick     dots their I’s and crosses their T’s.”
the firm actually tried to pass off     utors’ influence will become even          Partnership attribution has long     Bergen Regional Medical Center,             contributions, The Record contact-        But even if a contributor were at
contributions by a dead partner,        more key if state lawmakers enact       bedeviled attempts to control the       LP, and Solomon Healthcare                  ed officials from all three Hudson     fault for violating disclosure rules,
said M. Robert DeCotiis, managing       proposals designed to prohibit gov-     influence of big money in politics.     Group, LLC, are principally owned           County committees — the Hudson         state law places accountability for
partner at DeCotiis, FitzPatrick,       ernment officials from awarding            New Jersey real-estate develop-      by a group of Colorado investors            County Democratic Organization,        those omissions entirely on the
Cole & Wisler, in a written state-      no-bid government contracts to          er Charles A. Kushner, for exam-        who gave the state Democrats a to-          the North Bergen Democratic Mu-        politicians and their campaigns.
ment.                                   large campaign contributors.            ple, used a web of dozens of busi-      tal of nearly $100,000 that same            nicipal Committee, and the 2001           Currently, there is no law or reg-
   But experts say the FitzPatrick         Last month, The Record report-       ness partners and more than 90          day through various entities they           campaign committee of now-Jersey       ulation that allows ELEC to di-
contributions reflect poorly on         ed the DeCotiis firm was averaging      limited-liability companies to direct   control.                                    City Mayor Glenn Cunningham.           rectly penalize campaign contribu-
New Jersey’s campaign finance sys-      more than $10 million a year in         $3.1 million to federal and state          What the state committee didn’t              While officials called the Fitz-   tors who fail to provide required
tem, particularly the rules that reg-   fees from governments in New Jer-       candidates during a recent five-        disclose in its reports, however, is        Patrick allocations mistakes by the    contributor information or choose
ulate contributions from business       sey while it was contributing an av-    year period. That money included        which partners made the contribu-           campaigns, none of the committees      to ignore disclosure rules and con-
partnerships.                           erage of $500,000 to the politicians    more than $1.5 million directed to      tions.                                      provided supporting allocation let-    tribution limits. New Jersey’s law in
   The problems go well beyond          who had hired them.                     political funds benefiting Governor        A spokesman for the state com-           ters.                                  this area is weaker than those cov-
just a few contributions attributed        Under the proposed reforms, no       McGreevey. Court papers allege          mittee said the attribution for                 “It strikes me as most likely an   ering federal campaigns and con-
to a dead man. And they go well         government official could award a       that Kushner made contributions         Solomon Healthcare was inadver-             innocent mistake made at the cam-      tributions made to campaigns in
beyond the DeCotiis law firm.           contract to any firm that gives         in the names of partners without        tently left off the ELEC report —           paign,” said Alex Booth, former        numerous other states.
   As listed in state campaign fi-      more than $5,000 in campaign            their knowledge or pre-approval.        and that partner Solomon J.                 treasurer for the Cunningham              Last year, ELEC officials sanc-
nance records — specifically, the       money through the company, its          Kushner, through a spokesman,           Melamed made the $20,000 con-               committee. “It was probably made       tioned and levied just more than
online database that’s most often       executives, and principal partners.     has repeatedly denied the allega-       tribution. But the spokesman ac-            because the campaign staff was         $100,000 in fines on more than 70
viewed by the public —more than            As its rules are followed today,     tions, which federal prosecutors        knowledged that the committee               overworked at the time.”               campaign and political action com-
3,000 contributions since 1999 to-      experts point out, it’s nearly im-      are now probing.                        has no partner information for the              Further raising questions about    mittees throughout the state, in
taling millions of dollars from law     possible for ELEC to determine             In an attempt to limit abuse and     $25,000 given by the Bergen Re-             contributions made by the DeCoti-      most cases for filing campaign fi-
firms and other partnerships do         whether campaign-contribution           to increase disclosure by individu-     gional partnership, even though it          is firm, experts say, is a copy of the nance reports late or not at all. No
not conform to state rules.             limits are being violated or whether    als involved in partnerships and        was given a year ago.                       firm’s partnership agreement,          contributors were sanctioned.
   The rules, established by the        contributions from partners are be-     limited-liability companies, ELEC          “It’s still in the process of the fol-   which was obtained by The Record          Watchdogs say the burden
Election Law Enforcement Com-           ing made voluntarily by the con-        established a set of regulatory safe-   low-up stage,” said the spokesman,          from court papers.                     should not be placed solely on
mission, the state agency charged       tributor recorded in ELEC records.      guards in the late 1990s.               Adam Green. Melamed did not re-                 The agreement states that “with-   campaign officials.
with enforcing New Jersey’s cam-        Those are two of the main func-            Those business entities were         turn a phone call left at his Denver-       out limitation all decisions con-         “That is a bit unusual,” said No-
paign-finance laws, are designed to     tions of campaign-finance regula-       prohibited from making contribu-        area office.                                cerning contribution(s) to candi-      ble, of the Center for Responsive
prohibit those involved in partner-     tion, they say.                         tions directly. If they wanted to          Yet, another example occurred            dates, political parties, and/or sim-  Politics. “It puts all the burden on
ships from multiplying their contri-       Furthermore, sanctions are lim-      send a campaign a check from the        during a three-month period last            ilar organizations” are to be made     the committees and none of the
butions and influence and side-         ited, and rarely applied.               partnership bank account, the           year when the New Democratic                by a five-member management            burden on the contributors. It
stepping contribution limits that          The posthumous contributions         money must be allocated to indi-        Assembly Leadership PAC — con-              committee — an arrangement that        seems like the type of law you
bind individuals and corporations.      from FitzPatrick are glaring exam-      vidual partners —none of whom           trolled by Assembly Speaker Albio           campaign finance experts say rais-     would write if you wanted to en-
   Without increased disclosure,        ples of this problem, experts said.     could give more than the limit on       Sires — reported receiving two con-         es questions about the voluntary       courage people to give contribu-
tighter rules, and better enforce-         “One of the basic principles of      contributions by individuals.           tributions from “DeCotiis, Fitz-            nature of contributions made in the    tions.”
ment, experts say, the public has no    any campaign finance system is             To ensure that the contributions     Patrick, Cole and Wisler LLP” to-           names of partners outside the man-
way of knowing whether New Jer-         whether the contributions are           were made voluntarily, the checks       taling $25,000 and a separate               agement committee.                     E-mail: harrington@northjersey.com
sey politicians and their biggest fi-   made voluntarily,” said Larry No-       also must be accompanied by state-      $25,000 contribution from “De-                  “That’s absolutely outrageous,” and riley@northjersey.com


                                                                                        Published Thursday, March 4, 2004




Governor has met figure in FBI probe
Carteret executive gave to McGreevey                                                           events.’’ An invitation for the Oct. 8,
                                                                                               1997, event in West Orange lists D’Ami-
                                                                                                                                                      The new interchange will included a
                                                                                                                                                  raised connector road that will cross
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Spoganetz said that D’Amiano had re-
                                                                                                                                                                                                  quested a hearing to fight one of the fines,
                                                                                               ano as a member of the host committee              D’Amiano’s property, he said.                   and explained that such citations and
By MITCHEL MADDUX                              there. “We haven’t seen him for a couple        along with 50 others, including such                   The adjacent development, known as          having DEP operating licenses renewed
and JEFF PILLETS                               of weeks,’’ said the individual, who iden-      prominent names as state Sen. Barbara              the Carteret Redevelopment Plan, would          despite violations were not uncommon.
TRENTON BUREAU                                 tified himself as a worker.                     Buono, construction magnate Sam                    include the proposed construction of a             In December, state officials confirmed
                                                   His attorney, John Sponganetz, who          Halpern, former Democratic Assembly                travel center, hotels, restaurants, a           that Tremley Point was being considered
    Governor McGreevey said Wednes-            said he had last spoken to his client on        Speaker Alan Karcher and Democratic                670,000-square-foot warehouse and dis-          as the possible site for a new trash trans-
day that a little-known political fund-rais-   Tuesday, also declined to comment about         money man Stephen Moses.                           tribution facility, according to published      fer station that would handle waste from
er who has attracted the FBI’s interest is     the FBI search.                                    Records show D’Amiano’s companies               studies.                                        New York City.
a casual acquaintance he once met at a             The D’Amiano files are the latest to        have contributed moderately to political               Capping the landfill and cleaning up           But the McGreevey administration
high school party 30 years ago.                bring federal investigators to the party’s      campaigns. His companies and associ-               toxic waste deposits at the “brownfields”       scuttled the proposed transfer station last
   Years later, during his tenure as the       headquarters in Trenton. The action is          ates have given $3,500 to the Carteret             site would be necessary, but could turn a       month.
mayor of Woodbridge, McGreevey said            part of a larger federal probe into politi-     Democratic organization since 2001 and             137-acre site worth $15.4 million into a           A similar plan to use Tremley Point for
he became reacquainted with David              cal corruption in New Jersey that has tar-      more than $1,000 to McGreevey’s cam-               parcel valued a $64 million, according to       trash transfer was approved by Linden
D’Amiano, 44, a Carteret waste manage-         geted officials in both parties.                paigns. They also contributed to Repub-            the study, which was conducted in part          and Union County in 2000 but fell
ment and recycling executive, who even-            Democratic sources who worked as            lican campaigns and politicians during             by New Jersey Transportation Planning           through when the owners of the 18-acre
tually became a financial backer.              fund-raisers for McGreevey in both the          the early 1990s.                                   Agency.                                         site became involved in a state investiga-
   McGreevey said he last saw D’Amiano         1997 and 2001 gubernatorial campaigns              Several of D’Amiano’s firms are on 33               Spoganetz said that Carteret wants to       tion. Among the investors in the site was
at a Christmas party at the governor’s         said D’Amiano was not a widely known            acres in Middlesex County that are key to          acquire all of D’Amiano’s property on the       Union County attorney Paul Weiner, the
mansion, Drumthwacket. Six years ago,          player in fund-raising circles. They said       an ambitious redevelopment project on              site, but that “no meaningful negotia-          law partner of Democratic state Sen. Ray
the waste management executive was in-         the trash recycler resembled other low-         the site of a mammoth landfill.                    tions” had begun with either the city or        Lesniak.
cluded —along with some of the state’s         profile fund-raisers who had close tries to        Part of the proposal is a $165 million          the Turnpike.                                      News of the FBI raid prompted Re-
Democratic elite —on the host committee        McGreevey but to few others in the De-          plan to completely rebuild Interchange                 “We just want to get paid fair market       publican lawmakers to demand the De-
of a party fund-raiser headlined by then-      mocratic inner circle.                          12 on the New Jersey Turnpike in                   value for the land,” Spoganetz said.            mocrats to call for a special session of the
President Bill Clinton and McGreevey.              “There are always guys like him that        Carteret, and build a 6,000-foot-long ele-         “They going to have to pay for the land         Legislature to enact legislation calling for
And D’Amiano served as part of Mc-             are attracted to a major campaign,’’ said       vated roadway that will link the thor-             if they want to take it.”                       the end of “pay to play,” the system that
Greevey’s finance teams for his two cam-       one Democratic consultant who worked            oughfare with the Tremley Point area of                The attorney said he believes there was     favors campaign contributors for no-bid
paigns for governor.                           for McGreevey. “They are not interested         adjacent Linden.                                   no connection between the proposed de-          government positions and contracts.
   A day after FBI agents searched the         in showing off or making names for                 The Turnpike’s executive director,              velopments on D’Amiano’s Carteret                  Such legislation was approved last
Democratic State Committee’s Trenton           themselves. They usually have very nar-         Michael Lapolla, said the interchange is           properties and the FBI’s search in Tren-        year in the Senate but stalled in the As-
headquarters for information about             row, specific reasons for being involved.’’     in the worst of the 148-mile turnpike and          ton Tuesday, but he declined to speculate       sembly. The leaders called for a special
D’Amiano’s fund-raising activities, Mc-        Another longtime Democratic fund-rais-          that the planned reconstruction has been           on what motivated the federal agents’ ac-       legislative session to take up the matter
Greevey said that he wants the commit-         er who has been a key McGreevey sup-            on the boards for years. The new inter-            tions.                                          again.
tee to be “as open and transparent as pos-     porter since McGreevey served as Wood-          change will redirect truck traffic directly            One of D’Amiano’s firms, Dauman In-            “This is not a partisan issue,” said Sen-
sible” with regard to the federal probe.       bridge Township mayor in the 1990 was           into industrial areas instead of routing it        dustries, had its permit to operate a recy-     ate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-
   “I informed the state committee that        surprised to learn that D’Amiano had a          through Carteret’s retail thoroughfare,            cling facility renewed by the state De-         Hunterdon. The end of pay to play, is
they should fully cooperate with author-       spot on the governor’s prestigious fund-        Lapolla said.                                      partment of Environmental Protection            “based on what is good for the people of
ities,” he said.                               raising committee.                                 The new interchange is also key to the          on Feb. 9, despite the fact that his firms      this state.”
   D’Amiano, who has not been charged              “I took a good look at my files and was     ambitious redevelopment plans that will            owe more than $28,000 in penalties for
with any wrongdoing, did not return a          shocked to see this guy was on the com-         stretch to Tremley Point, he said.                 committing a variety of civil infractions,      Staff Writers Josh Gohlke, John Dyer, and
call Wednesday. Someone answering the          mittee that organized the Clinton fund-            “The only way to get anybody to invest          according to Mary Helen Cervantes, a            Elise Young contributed to this article.
phone at the offices of D’Amiano’s             raiser in 1997,’’ he said. “This guy obvi-      there is to get access to the Turnpike,”           DEP spokeswoman. Some of the fines              E-mail: maddux@northjersey.com and
Carteret office said D’Amiano was not          ously knows how to pick the right               Lapolla said.                                      are a decade old.                               spillets@northjersey.com.
28 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                             JANUARY 2005


                                                                                        Published Saturday, March 6, 2004




Probe widens with aid of farmer
By MITCHEL MADDUX                                                                                                                                                                                      township council, filed assault
and JEFF PILLETS
TRENTON BUREAU                          McGreevey fund-raiser under more scrutiny                                                                                                                      charges against a member of coun-
                                                                                                                                                                                                       cil who she claimed had attacked
                                                                                                                                                                                                       her during a meeting. The town-
    A Middlesex County pumpkin          Agriculture on Thursday, said an-       ano, the source familiar with the       is both unusual and benign, the          largest tract of undeveloped land     ship also accused the Halpers of
and dairy farmer emerged Friday as      other source familiar with the sub-     subpoenas said. The agency said         knowledgeable source said.               remaining in the township began       running an illegal trash transfer sta-
a central figure in a widening fed-     poena.                                  that D’Amiano had four corporate           Although cooperating federal          in 1998 when local officials an-      tion behind their grain silo, a
eral probe into a campaign fund-           Larry Halper did not return sev-     and four personal liens from 1995       witnesses commonly help investi-         nounced their intention to con-       charge they denied.
raiser for Governor McGreevey, a        eral phone calls Friday night.          through 1997 totaling $500,000,         gators after being implicated in         demn the family-owned farm.              The Halpers, who said they
knowledgeable source said.                 Also on Thursday, FBI agents         which were settled prior to 1998        wrongdoing, Halper represents a              Larry and Clara Halper, accord-   could have sold their land to de-
   For more than a year, farmer         visited McGreevey’s office and          during the Whitman administra-          different breed —a citizen who           ing to sources and published re-      velopers for $20 million, eventual-
Larry Halper has been cooperating       dropped off a subpoena, and did         tion. Beyond that, $433,000 from        came forward to report perceived         ports, were apolitical farmers with   ly rejected a $4.3 million offer from
with federal prosecutors probing        the same at the state Division of       three of D’Amiano’s corporate and       wrongdoing to federal prosecutors,       few interests beyond growing          the township and a $3 million offer
the fund-raising activities of a        Taxation, a source familiar with the    personal tax liens were settled in      the source said.                         pumpkins, operating hayrides, and     from the state Farmland Preserva-
Carteret waste management exec-         subpoenas said.                         2003, the agency said.                     His wife, Clara Halper, said she      watching over the family property     tion Program.
utive who is a longtime member of          Federal prosecutors who have            Micah Rasmussen, a spokesman         did not know if her husband was          that also includes a riding acade-       In 2003, a state judge ruled that
McGreevey’s political fund-raising      been scrutinizing D’Amiano’s            for McGreevey, confirmed that the       assisting the government in its in-      my.                                   the township could condemn the
committee, the source said.             fund-raising activities are looking     agencies had received the subpoe-       vestigation.                                 Township officials, fearing that  farm and those proceedings are un-
   Halper, who has waged a pro-         at the way nearly $1 million in         nas but declined to elaborate in de-       “If he is involved in this investi-   the Halpers were planning to sell     der way.
tracted battle over the future of his   back taxes and penalties owed by        tail.                                   gation he hasn’t told me,” Mrs.          their farm, sought to gain control of    “It’s very, very sad for us,” Clara
family’s 75-year-old farm, is an ac-    the Carteret executive and his firms       “The subpoenas request a limit-      Halper said just before stepping out     it to keep it from being developed.   Halper said in a phone conversa-
quaintance of David D’Amiano,           were settled after negotiated agree-    ed scope of documents and are di-       to temple. “I’m certainly going to       When the Halpers refused to go        tion Friday. “This farm has been in
who FBI agents have taken in-           ments with the state tax authorities,   rected to offices, not specific indi-   ask him about it now.”                   along with the township’s plans,      our family for three generations.
creasing interest in over the past      a source said.                          viduals,” Rasmussen said. “The             Mrs. Halper said she did not          the dispute that ensued devolved      Now they’re taking it away from us
week, the source said.                     The federal subpoenas received       governor has directed staff to fully    know D’Amiano, but had heard             into a long-running battle in which   because they have the power of the
   Cornell Dairy Farm, of which         at the governor’s office and the        comply with the requests and we         his name on television news earli-       Larry Halper lined his property       state behind them. It isn’t fair.’’
Halper is part owner, was listed in     Taxation Division requested any         expect to furnish the documents         er this week.                            with anti-township placards.
subpoenas delivered by federal          documents or information that of-       quickly.”                                  The fight between Piscataway              At one point, Clara Halper, who E-mail: maddux@northjersey.com
agents to the state Department of       ficials have pertaining to D’Ami-          Halper’s involvement in the case     and the Halper family over the           had run unsuccessfully for the and pillets@northjersey.com


                                                                                      Published Wednesday, March 17, 2004




D'Amiano sought favors
Nagged McGreevey aides, files show                                                                                                               A first-name relationship
                                                                                                                                                 Fund-raiser David D'Amiano, whom Governor McGreevey first described as a "ca-
                                                                                                                                                 sual friend,” is no stranger to the governor's inner circle. Documents released Tues-
By JEFF PILLETS, MITCHEL MADDUX,               some very minor exceptions, were iden-             In a Feb 24, 2003, letter to McGreevey,        day show D'Amiano lobbying McGreevey and his staff for appointments and help
and JOHN DYER                                  tical to those given the U.S. Attorney’s        Halper thanked the governor for a meet-           in resolving problems. Here are some excerpts from that correspondence:
TRENTON BUREAU                                 Office last week, an administration offi-       ing to talk about saving the family farm.         Lobbying for appointments
                                               cial said. Among those not released were           “I would like to thank you for meeting
   A Carteret waste recycler who raised        a questionnaire filled out by a judicial        with me last week to discuss the future of        ä Oct. 10, 2002 — Handwritten letter faxed to McGreevey from D’Amiano, advo-
more than $100,000 for Governor Mc-            candidate and documents covering the            the Halper farm,’’ Halper wrote. “I was           cating the appointment of Dr. Alexander Hall to the state Board of Dentistry: “Jim,
Greevey spent two years hustling favors        transition period before McGreevey took         impressed by your knowledge of the fac-           Dr. Alexander Hall of East Orange would make an excellent choice to the Board of
for his friends and family in Trenton with     office in January 2002.                         tors relating to this case. Your observa-         Dentistry of NJ.” Hall was later appointed to the board.
the help of the governor and his closest          Administration officials, who only last      tion that egos are getting in the way of          ä Oct 24, 2002 — Handwritten note from D’Amiano to Deputy Chief of Staff Amy
aides, according to documents released         week insisted they were barred from talk-       policy is succinct. The most promising as-        Mansue. D'Amiano is asking the staff to consider Ranjit Sinha of South Brunswick
by the administration Tuesday.                 ing about the federal probe and Mc-             pect of our discussion is your desire to          for a post on an environmental board: “The governor requests that I give this ré-
   The documents show that from the            Greevey’s relationship with D’Amiano,           bring an amicable resolution to this mat-         sumé to you. thanks, Dave.”
opening weeks of the McGreevey ad-             said Tuesday that they decided to release       ter.’’ Until now, administration officials        ä Nov 27, 2002 — Internal memo from Tara Dowdell, McGreevey’s director of ap-
ministration, David D’Amiano, now at           all their files because McGreevey has           said they did not know if Halper and Mc-          pointments, indicating D’Amiano's persistent lobbying for Sinha. Scrawled on the
the center of a widening federal corrup-       nothing to hide. D’Amiano’s contacts            Greevey ever talked about the farm                memo is a note by Mansue to Dowdell: “Tara, D'Amiano is making me nuts. Do we
tion probe, was granted access to top ad-      with the administration and success in          preservation controversy, which has put           have any direct [appointments] we can do?”
ministration officials who met and corre-      winning appointments for friends, they          the Halper family at odds with Piscat-
sponded with him more than a dozen             said, are not evidence of wrongdoing            away officials for more than six years. On        Seeking help for firms
times from January 2002 to December            “We wanted to hand out everything we            Tuesday, officials downplayed the meet-           ä Undated — Memo from D’Amiano to a member of the governor’s staff, regard-
2003.                                          possibly could to show that the adminis-        ing and were unwilling to say what, if            ing an Ocean County company, USA Trans X LLC of Barnegat: “They have a junk-
   In a string of faxes, phone calls, and      tration acted ethically and aboveboard          anything, McGreevey did to help Halper.           yard permit in the Pinelands in Ocean County. They want to trade off their junkyard
handwritten notes, D’Amiano success-           regarding this matter,’’ said Micah Ras-           “This was a five-minute meeting dur-           permit and receive a garbage transfer station permit. Need a meeting with the
fully pressed the administration to name       mussen, the governor’s spokesman. “The          ing a Democratic Party meeting at the             Pinelands Commission.”
three friends — including his wife’s boss —    documents released today speak for              East Brunswick Hilton,’’ one administra-          ä Dec 11, 2003 — Memo from D’Amiano to unnamed staffer in governor’s office.
to influential state boards. He set up         themselves.”                                    tion source said. “It was inconsequen-            D’Amiano is lobbying on behalf of a Mountain Lakes firm that is trying to collect
meetings for a friend who was seeking a           Sources say federal agents are search-       tial.’’ Halper, contacted at his home, de-        costs involving work it did for the state Department of Transportation: “[Firm] says
state waste permit. He asked the admin-        ing for evidence that D’Amiano received         clined to talk about the meeting.                 someone dumped contaminated soil on their job site with NJ DOT. NJDOT refuses
istration to intervene with the Depart-        favors for himself and others. The gover-          Cornell Dairy Farm has been at the             to pay for their removal cost.” Staffer writes that Kris Kolluri, chief of staff to Trans-
ment of Transportation for a construc-         nor has called D’Amiano a “casual               center of a preservation controversy              portation Commissioner Jack Lettiere, will check into the matter.
tion friend involved in a messy road proj-     friend’’ whom he knew in his youth              since 1998, when the township first an-
ect. He even sent letters recommending a       growing up in Carteret. McGreevey has           nounced plans to take the farm by con-            Pressing for a wedding greeting
string of judicial nominees.                   said he met D’Amiano again upon be-             demnation as a way to protect it from de-         ä April 30, 2003 — Handwritten note from D’Amiano to McGreevey: “Jim, en-
   “D’Amiano is driving me nuts,’’ Amy         coming mayor of Woodbridge in 1991.             velopment. Township officials, who last           closed is a wedding invitation for you and your family. ... The father of the bride has
Mansue, then McGreevey’s deputy chief             In several documents released Tues-          year won a court ruling granting them the         always helped me during the campaigns. If you are unable to attend, could you
of staff, wrote in a November 2002             day, D’Amiano is referred to as “an old         right to condemn the land, said the               please send a congratulatory letter, Thank you, Dave.” McGreevey sends congrat-
memo to an official in the governor’s ap-      friend’’ of McGreevey. In an April 30,          Halpers were secretly planning to sell out        ulations letter a month later.
pointments office. “Do we have any [di-        2003, handwritten note from D’Amiano            to major home builders.
rect appointments] we can do?’’ In a re-       to McGreevey, the waste recycler asked             The family, which is appealing the rul-
lated matter, documents also disclose          the governor to attend the wedding of ac-       ing, rejected in 2002 as too low a $3 mil-       be an excellent choice for a judgeship. ...    memo from McGreevey aide Kim Kersey
that McGreevey met with a Middlesex            quaintances who have “always helped             lion offer from the state Farmland Preser-       I respectfully urge that serious consider-     to Kaye Caputo, an aide to DeCotiis,
County farmer whose property has be-           me during the campaigns.’’ “If you are          vation Program that would have pre-              ation be given for his appointment as Ad-      refers to D’Amiano as “a friend of the
come central to the federal investigation.     unable to attend, could you please send a       served 64 of the farm’s 75 acres.                ministrative Law Judge or Workers’             governor who is feeding me a string of ju-
D’Amiano is close to farm’s owners.            congratulatory letter?’’ D’Amiano wrote,           While D’Amiano’s role regarding the           Compensation Judge,” D’Amiano wrote.           dicial names. ...
   McGreevey himself not only ex-              signing the letter “Thanks, Dave.’’ On          farm remains unclear, the documents              “I have enclosed his résumé.”                     “He spoke of a résumé he forwarded
changed letters and phone calls with           June 29, McGreevey sent a letter to the         show that D’Amiano aggressively lobbied             Solomon, who has contributed sever-         regarding someone he wants in the Essex
D’Amiano, but directed his staff to assist     newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Michael                 for the appointment of several people to         al thousand dollars to Democratic caus-        County Prosecuter’s Office,’’ Kersey
the fund-raiser, documents show. At Mc-        Charles Gorombey, wishing them a life-          state judicial posts.                            es over the past four years, according to      wrote.
Greevey’s request, Chief Counsel               time of “health, cheer, and happiness.’’           In a letter dated Nov. 24, 2003, D’Ami-       state records, declined to comment Tues-          Telephone records show that D’Ami-
Michael DeCotiis met with D’Amiano,            McGreevey also met at least once with           ano wrote to McGreevey’s chief counsel           day about D’Amiano, citing the long-           ano, with the approval of the governor,
whose company has been saddled with            another friend of D’Amiano’s, a Piscat-         to push for a state judgeship for J.             standing tradition of potential judicial       also was talking and meeting with De-
more than $2 million in federal tax liens,     away farmer who gave $10,000 to the             Howard Solomon, who serves as the mu-            nominees not commenting on issues re-          Cotiis, whose responsibilities include the
to discuss potential judicial nominees.        Democratic State Committee in Decem-            nicipal prosecutor in Teaneck.                   lated to their candidacy.                      review of all potential nominees to the
   The administration’s extraordinary de-      ber 2002 as he was fighting to save his            This is an unusual role for a fund-rais-         In September and October 2003, the          bench.
cision to release the 500 pages of internal    75-acre farm from condemnation.                 er, especially given D’Amiano’s profes-          records show, D’Amiano made numer-                None of the nominees forwarded by
records regarding the controversial fund-      Sources familiar with the investigation         sional qualifications as a waste manage-         ous contacts with the governor’s office        D’Amiano received judgeships. DeCoti-
raiser comes less than two weeks after         have said that Mark Halper and his Cor-         ment executive who also runs pallet and          and DeCotiis, the chief counsel, regard-       is did not respond to requests for inter-
federal agents served search warrants on       nell Dairy Farm are central to the federal      mulch businesses. Traditionally, recom-          ing pet judicial nominees.                     views. Rasmussen, McGreevey’s spokes-
the Democratic State Committee and             probe.                                          mendations for judicial nominations                 “Mike, just passing this résumé along.      man, said D’Amiano’s failure to get any-
subpoenas at the governor’s office and            For more than a year, the sources said,      come from legal and bar association cir-         Call when you get a chance,’’ D’Amiano         one on the bench shows that he had lit-
the Treasury and Agriculture depart-           Mark Halper wore a concealed recording          cles, or from state legislators and local        wrote to DeCotiis on Sept. 19, referring       tle real influence.
ments.                                         device to assist the government investi-        party officials.                                 to Morganville attorney Paul W. Bergrin,
   The documents released Tuesday, with        gation.                                            “I truly believe that Mr. Solomon will        who declined to comment. An Oct. 1             E-mail: pillets@northjersey.com
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                    THE RECORD 29


                                                                                       Published Wednesday, July 7, 2004




Democratic fund-raiser indicted
McGreevey denies knowledge
of alleged extortion plot
By JEFF PILLETS,                        suggests, capitalized on his sta-         While McGreevey is not
MITCHEL MADDUX,                         tus as a key fund-raiser to            named in the indictment, the
and AMY KLEIN                           arrange an extraordinary series        governor acknowledged Tues-
TRENTON BUREAU                          of private meetings with Middle-       day that he is one of two un-
                                        sex County officials and the gov-      named state officials who are de-
    NEWARK — Federal prose-             ernor himself. The meetings led        scribed as meeting with D’Ami-
cutors leveled charges of extor-        to a lucrative preservation offer      ano and Halper about the future
tion, bribery, and fraud Tuesday        for Cornell Dairy Farm owner           of the farm.
against former Democratic fund-         Mark Halper.                              But McGreevey said the five-
raiser David D’Amiano in a 47-             The fund-raiser did not know,       minute meeting at the East
page indictment that raises omi-        however, that Halper was se-           Brunswick Hilton in February
nous clouds over Governor Mc-           cretly working with the FBI to         2003 was merely a courtesy such
Greevey.                                tape-record conversations that         as he extends to many con-
   The 11-count indictment, un-         will now become key evidence           stituents. The governor denied
sealed at U.S. District Court           in one of the biggest public cor-      any wrongdoing and insisted
here, describes in vivid detail         ruption cases in recent state his-     that he never even spoke to any
how D’Amiano allegedly extort-          tory. Those conversations, as de-      Middlesex County officials about
ed $40,000 in cash and political        tailed in the indictment, show a       Halper’s farm.
contributions from a Piscataway         furtive and paranoid D’Amiano             “I said at the outset that I was
farmer who was seeking to save          obsessed with the use of code          confident that my administra-
his land from condemnation.             words and the cloak-and-dagger         tion acted ethically, appropriate-                                                                     CARMINE GALASSO/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
   D’Amiano, the indictment             aspect of secret deal-making.                   See D’AMIANO Page 30 David D'Amiano, whose ties to the governor go back to their teen years, surrendered Tuesday.


                                                                                     Published Wednesday, June 30, 2004



2 top bank executives accused of corruption
                                                                                                                      bank. Kemp was also indicted           helped Commerce win a contract          Commerce shares were halted
Commerce bosses among 12 indicted                                                                                     Tuesday.
                                                                                                                         Prosecutors allege that Holck
                                                                                                                                                             to provide a $30 million line of
                                                                                                                                                             credit to finance a Philadelphia
                                                                                                                                                                                                 from trading in the New York
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Its
                                                                                                                      and Umbrell approved a credit          neighborhood redevelopment          shares fell $3.51 before trading
By MITCHEL MADDUX                       also calls into question business      ness. However, federal prosecu-        line and a home mortgage ex-           project, prosecutors said.          was halted at 2:58 p.m., a drop of
TRENTON BUREAU                          practices at the very top of the       tors have not charged Hill with        ceeding $225,000 for Kemp, de-            Kemp, who took direction         5.5 percent to $60.95.
                                        Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Com-           any wrongdoing.                        spite the fact that his personal fi-   from lawyer Ronald A. White, a          In New Jersey, Commerce has
    PHILADELPHIA - Federal              merce Bancorp Inc., the rapidly           Commerce issued a statement,        nances were in disarray and his        prominent fund-raiser and close     established itself as a banking
authorities indicted two senior ex-     growing bank that has wielded          but a spokesman would not an-          car recently had been repos-           associate of the mayor, told the    powerhouse and a formidable
ecutives of Commerce Bank on            clout through its political contacts   swer specific questions about          sessed. A Commerce loan officer        Commerce executives that the bid    force in statewide politics.
Tuesday on corruption charges,          and campaign contributions in          Hill.”                                 described Kemp’s credit rating as      was too high and that they need-        Commerce’s employee political
saying the men secured lucrative        New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”             The company has confirmed           “among the lowest scores he had        ed to lower it to be competitive    action committee, Compac NJ,
city banking business through              Pay-to-play is not a victimless     that neither it, nor any of its sub-   seen in his 40-year banking ca-        with other banks bidding on the     distributed almost $1.65 million
rigged bidding and fraud.               crime,” Patrick L. Meehan, the         sidiaries or other officers and em-    reer,” the indictment said.            project, the indictment said.       to New Jersey candidates for state
   Glenn K. Holck, 44, the presi-       U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, said    ployees are targets of the investi-       But the two Commerce execu-            White, who was also indicted     and local office from 1998 to
dent of Commerce’s Pennsylvania         of the alleged fraudulent business     gation,” Commerce said in a state-     tives overrode objections from         Tuesday, served on the board of     2003, much of it pumped into po-
division, and Stephen M. Um-            scheme. He said that in addition       ment. “The company has fully co-       staffers about Kemp’s credit prob-     directors of Commerce Bank’s        litical funds in counties and
brell, 44, one of his regional vice     to taxpayers, firms unwilling to       operated with this investigation.      lems and approved the loans any-       Pennsylvania division, officials    towns where Commerce then
presidents, approved generous           participate in corrupt business        The company believes that this         way, and even extended other           said.                               reaped millions of dollars in
personal loans for this city’s treas-   practices lose out when illegal        will have no material negative fi-     loans to Kemp’s brother-in-law,           For his services, Commerce       banking, bond, and insurance
urer, and were rewarded with a          methods are used to seal business      nancial impact on the company.”        who also had a “shaky credit” his-     paid White a monthly retainer       business.
substantial portfolio of Philadel-      deals.”                                   Holck and Umbrell denied            tory, the indictment said.             and legal fees, which totaled           The bank also plays a role in
phia’s city banking business, pros-        When the game’s rigged, why         wrongdoing through their attor-           Holck, Umbrell, “and other of-      $182,000 in 2002. The bank also     local government financial servic-
ecutors said.                           play it at all?” Meehan said.          neys, who said the men eventual-       ficers and employees of Com-           contributed $25,000 for a youth     es.
   The two executives were                 The indictment contains sever-      ly would be cleared of the             merce Bancorp Inc.” also provid-       foundation run by White, and            At the end of 2002, it held $1.8
named in a 155-page indictment          al references to Commerce Ban-         charges. Commerce said it had          ed numerous gifts to Kemp, in-         also donated $50,000 to Mayor       billion in New Jersey taxpayer
that also charged 10 others, in-        corp’s chief executive officer, Ver-   suspended both Tuesday after           cluding tickets to professional        Street’s campaign.                  money. Commerce is also in-
cluding prominent city officials.       non W. Hill II, identifying him        learning of the indictment.            sporting events and meals - and           White was charged with al-       volved in government insurance
The ongoing probe into Philadel-        only by his title and suggesting he       The indictment says Holck and       even tried to buy tickets for him      legedly steering business to Com-   contracts in nearly every munici-
phia city government corruption         participated in several phone calls    Umbrell, “on behalf of their em-       to a Metallica rock concert, the       merce by fraudulent means, along    pality. And it has become the
became public in October when           and e-mail exchanges with his          ployer, Commerce Bank,” curried        indictment charged.                    with a variety of crimes that       dominant player in buying and
city police discovered FBI wire-        subordinates across the Delaware       favor with Corey Kemp, who was            In return, Kemp was instru-         stemmed from his role as a City     selling government debt, at one
taps in Mayor John Street’s office.     River who were involved in se-         then Philadelphia’s city treasurer,    mental in rigging a bid and pro-       Hall power broker, prosecutors      point underwriting one-third of
   But the sprawling indictment         curing the Philadelphia city busi-     in order to get business for the       viding inside information that         said.                               all bonds issued in the state.




                                                                                  EDITORIALS
                             Published Thursday, March 18, 2004                                                                                  Published Thursday, July 8, 2004


                                        Inside look                                                                                         Trenton intrigue
            An open door for a top McGreevey fund-raiser                                                                     Fund-raising scandal on McGreevey’s doorstep

                                                                                                                        F
                                                                                                                              OR THOSE who relish a good po-                   Here’s the most riveting part of the in-

       T
              HE BURGEONING scandal in-                      business leaders looking for help from the
              volving a fund-raiser for Governor             state. For example, the governor met with                        litical potboiler, the unfolding scan-        dictment: In February 2003, Mr. D’Ami-
              McGreevey has produced a rare and              a Piscataway man who gave $10,000 to                             dal involving a top fund-raiser for           ano is said to have told the farm owner
       ugly look at this administration at its crud-         the Democrats as he was fighting to save                   Governor McGreevey is lively summer                 that they would meet the governor and
       est level. When it comes to getting access,           his 75-acre farm from condemnation.                        reading. For Mr. McGreevey himself, the             other state officials later that day, and
       money talks, loud and clear.                             Mr. D’Amiano wrote to the governor to                   sordid story holds scant hope of a hap-             that if one of the officials used the code
          How else does one explain the inordi-              request a state judgeship for Teaneck’s                    py ending.                                          word “Machiavellian,” it meant the offi-
       nate clout of David D’Amiano, a Carteret              municipal prosecutor, J. Howard                               This week’s 47-page indictment of                cials were sympathetic and could deliver
       waste recycler who has raised more than               Solomon. Traditionally, recommendations                    David D’Amiano on bribery and extor-                on the promise to preserve the farm at a
       $100,000 for Mr. McGreevey? Mr.                       for judgeships are reserved for state sena-                tion charges paints a vivid picture of how          hefty price. The farm owner was wearing
       D’Amiano, one of the apparent targets of              tors and bar associations. Mr. D’Amiano                    political influence can be bought and               a hidden microphone. At the meeting,
       a federal investigation into New Jersey’s             also pushed candidates for the state Board                 sold in New Jersey. Toss in an ambitious            Mr. McGreevey promptly said the magic
       Democratic Party and the McGreevey ad-                of Dentistry, an environmental board, and                  prosecutor, a hidden microphone, and a              word — “Machiavellian.” The governor
       ministration, sure gets a lot of gubernato-           a job in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Of-                 scene that seems straight out of a cheap            says it was an innocent literary reference,
       rial attention for a man whose company                fice. In all, he asked the administration to               spy novel, and there could well be the              but that would sure be one whopping co-
       has been hit with $2 million in federal tax           appoint five people to state boards and                    makings of a major bestseller.                      incidence.
       liens and another $200,000 in state labor             jobs. Two of them were nominated, both                        Exactly how the story will pan out —                With the recent resignation of scandal-
       fines.                                                to unpaid board positions, and one later                   and just how close to the governor the              plagued John Rowland as governor of
          In an effort to control the political fall-        withdrew.                                                  case will ultimately get — is anybody’s             Connecticut, it’s not illogical to wonder
       out, the governor’s office this week re-                 Mr. Rasmussen said the fact that no one                 guess. But the perception of the governor           just how high up this Garden State scan-
       leased more than 500 pages of internal                Mr. D’Amiano recommended for a judge-                      meeting with a sleazy fund-raiser and ut-           dal will go. Democrats can say, with
       documents. The point, apparently, was                 ship has been appointed shows his lack of                  tering a secret code word is almost cer-            some degree of truth, that the investiga-
       that Mr. McGreevey has nothing to hide.               clout. Nevertheless, the fund-raiser pep-                  tain to muddy up his image. Judging from            tion by U.S. Attorney Christopher
          Micah Rasmussen, a spokesman for the               pered the governor and his staff with so                   the nitty-gritty of the indictment, as well         Christie is politically motivated, since
       governor, said the documents “speak for               many requests during the past two years                    as hundreds of pages of documents that              Mr. Christie, a Republican, has refused
       themselves,” and indeed they do. They                 that at one point a deputy chief of staff                  the McGreevey administration released               to disabuse people of the notion he may
       show that as soon as the governor took of-            wrote in a memo: “D’Amiano is driving                      earlier this year as a preemptive defense,          well run for governor next year.
       fice, Mr. D’Amiano was pestering him and              me nuts. Do we have any [direct appoint-                   Mr. D’Amiano’s fund-raising techniques                 The U.S. attorney points out that he
       his top aides for an array of political fa-           ments] we can do?” Clearly, Mr. D’Ami-                     were politics at their most corrupt.                has prosecuted both Democrats and Re-
       vors.                                                 ano expected something in exchange for                        In a nutshell, this week’s indictment            publicans, but his most often cited high-
          In one innocuous instance, Mr. D’Ami-              all the money he raised. And just as clear-                alleges that Mr. D’Amiano parlayed his              profile Republican case — which brought
       ano asked the governor to write a con-                ly, Mr. McGreevey and his staff never dis-                 clout as a major Democratic fund-raiser             a guilty plea by former Essex County Ex-
       gratulatory note to newlyweds because                 abused him of that notion.                                 to set up a series of private meetings with         ecutive James Treffinger — had been ini-
       “the father of the bride has always helped               For a governor who campaigned on a                      Middlesex County officials and the gov-             tiated by his predecessor.
       me during campaigns.” More-serious re-                promise to change how Trenton does                         ernor — for a hefty price. Ultimately, a               On the other hand, if Democrats ap-
       quests ranged from jobs and appointments              business, Mr. McGreevey sure seems to                      Piscataway farm owner got an exceed-                pear dirty — and some certainly do —
       to state boards to meetings for people and            practice old-fashioned politics as usual.                  ingly generous land-preservation offer.             they demand Mr. Christie’s full attention.
30 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                              JANUARY 2005


                                                                                  Published Wednesday, July 7, 2004

A D’Amiano case
timeline
Here are some of the key events
alleged in the federal indictment of
Democratic Party fund-raiser
David D'Amiano:
2002
ä August — Piscataway farm
owner Mark Halper and other
family members reject an offer of
$3 million to preserve their prop-
erty as farmland. Township offi-
cials begin condemnation pro-
ceedings to seize the property.
ä Nov. 10 — David D'Amiano tells
Halper, a business associate, that
Halper would have to pay $20,000
                   in cash and
                   $20,000 in politi-
                   cal contributions
                   to the Democratic
                   State Committee
                   to gain approval
                   for farmland
MCGREEVEY preservation at a
favorable price. D'Amiano says he
could arrange a meeting with
"state official 1," identified by
sources as Governor McGreevey.
ä Nov. 17-22 — D'Amiano tells
Halper there was a "real deal" in
place regarding the farm and that
a meeting with McGreevey would
occur. D'Amiano tells Halper to
bring the money to the meeting or
deliver it soon to D'Amiano.
ä Dec. 12 — D'Amiano demands
and receives a $10,000 cash in-
stallment from Halper - and a
$10,000 check payable to the De-
mocratic State Committee's Vic-
tory Fund, postdated Dec. 23 -
during a meeting at D'Amiano's                                                                                                                                                         CARMINE GALASSO/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
business. At the meeting, Halper      David D'Amiano, who has a recycling and mulch business in Middlesex County, leaving U.S. District Court in Newark, where the 11-count indictment was unsealed Tuesday.
tells D'Amiano to arrange for one
of the Piscataway officials at an
upcoming meeting to indicate that
they knew a favorable deal was in
place by using the code word
                                       D’Amiano: Former Democratic fund-raiser indicted
"Machiavellian."                      From Page 29                        the book we’ve been writing into contact with Halper. In me- County officials at D’Amiano’s Greevey’s first run for governor
                                      ly, and legally, and I stand by over the past 2½ years,” Christie dia interviews, however, sources Carteret office. The officials, in 1997, and he raised more than
                                      that statement,” the governor said. “The system in this state is close to the two-year probe said who are considering paying the $100,000 during McGreevey’s
2003                                  told reporters after a bill-signing corrupt and broken and not just the farmer initiated contact with farmer $7.3 million for the de- successful 2001 campaign. Mc-
                                      ceremony in Camden County.          as it applies to this case.”      the FBI.                                 velopment rights to his farm, use Greevey’s formidable fund-rais-
ä Jan. 13 — D'Amiano tells               The governor called on U.S.         The investigation is ongoing,      Halper was helping investiga- the code word “Machiavellian.” ing operation broke state
Halper that he has arranged a         Attorney Christopher J. Christie Christie said.                       tors gather evidence from early D’Amiano is setting up another records, generating $28.2 million
meeting with him with two un-         to release all recordings so the       “If any charges are brought in 2002, sources have said.                 meeting with a powerful former for the Democratic State Com-
named Middlesex County officials public can hear them in context. against other people, they will be            Halper’s strained and colorful state senator referred to by the mittee in 2001.
at D'Amiano's offices.                But a Christie spokesman said brought at the appropriate time,” relationship with D’Amiano, code name “bridge boy.”                                   However, few New Jersey De-
                                      the tapes would not be released. he said. “I’m not going to com- and the fund-raiser’s alleged at-                ä August 2003: D’Amiano mocratic Party insiders and reg-
ä Jan. 23 — During the meeting,                                           ment on any other people who tempts to squeeze money from meets at a McDonald’s with a ulars on the McGreevey fund-
one county official uses the code     Uttering code words may or may not be involved.” the farmer, are at the heart of the high-ranking Middlesex County raising circuit say they knew
word "Machiavellian," saying he          In the indictment, McGreevey        D’Amiano, a 45-year-old re- indictment. D’Amiano demand- official to finalize the deal. A few D’Amiano, and many insist they
did not think the county's motives appears to be sympathetic to the cycler and mulch dealer from ed direct cash payments to him- weeks later, McGreevey meets had never even heard of him un-
in the negotiations were "Machi-      plight of Halper’s 75-acre farm, Carteret who raised $100,000 as self or political donations to the Halper and D’Amiano again at a til the probe became public
avellian."                            which has been the subject of a a member of McGreevey’s elite Democratic State Committee be- Florham Park fund-raiser organ- when the FBI raided the state
                                      condemnation bid by the town- fund-raising committee, is the tween December 2002 and July ized by a small group of trash Democratic headquarters in
ä Jan. 24 — D'Amiano presses          ship of Piscataway since 1999. second close associate of the 2003, the indictment says.                        haulers. A deal to offer Halper Trenton on March 2.
Halper for further payment, stating In two brief meetings with governor to come under investi-                  That was the price, D’Amiano $7.4 million is agreed upon even               McGreevey has said that
that Halper had to make D'Ami-        Halper and one phone call, the gation for using intimidation in explained, for getting an audi- though one key county official D’Amiano was a casual ac-
ano "look right in Trenton." D'Ami- governor directs Halper to meet raising campaign cash for state ence with top policymakers in would say that the amount ex- quaintance from his teenage
ano also says that a Democratic       with county officials who can Democrats.                              Trenton and Middlesex County ceeded his “comfort level.”                     years in Carteret and that their
                                      help him.                              Ex-cabdriver Roger Chugh, who would help Halper preserve                   The amount was $3 million friendship was rekindled when
State Committee official knew the        The most intriguing — and who became a member of Mc- his farm. Halper eventually paid more than a previous offer to McGreevey became mayor of
meeting had taken place and           bizarre — aspect of the indict- Greevey’s administration, is be- the entire $40,000 he had prom- Halper from a state farmland Woodbridge in 1991.
therefore the payment had to be       ment was its description of the ing probed for, among other ised D’Amiano, but not fast preservation program. But the                                 But internal official memo-
turned over.                          February 2003 meeting between things, shaking down shop own- enough for the fund-raiser, the deal was never completed.                             randa released by the governor’s
ä Jan. 28 — A $5,000 check to
                                      McGreevey, Halper, D’Amiano, ers in the Little India section of indictment says.                                  Throughout the negotiations, office in March suggested that a
                                      and an unnamed aide to the gov- Woodbridge.                               At one point, D’Amiano tells D’Amiano is constantly bicker- deeper bond had developed be-
the Democrats' Victory Fund is        ernor, identified by sources as                                       the farmer that he will “really be ing with the farmer and fearful tween the two men, and in sev-
written by Halper and handed to       Amy Mansue, former deputy A two-year probe                            f-----d” if he doesn’t pay up. An- that Halper is secretly taping eral documents, D’Amiano is re-
D'Amiano at his Carteret office.      chief of staff.                        At a brief afternoon appear- other time, D’Amiano warns him. Before almost every meet- ferred to as McGreevey’s “old
ä Feb. 18 — After a Democratic           A few hours before the meet- ance in U.S. District Court in that an unnamed party — iden- ing, D’Amiano frisks the farmer. friend.”
State Committee finance commit- ing, D’Amiano promised Halper Newark, D’Amiano stood in a tified in the indictment only as a He also insists that Halper speak
                                      that he would arrange for one of slightly wrinkled navy suit and “co-schemer” — would “bury” in cryptic phrases and commu- Staff Writers Josh Gohlke and Clint
tee session at an East Brunswick      the state officials to use the se- barely spoke, other than to say, him “20 miles beneath the Pacif- nicate in writing, the indictment Riley contributed to this article.
hotel, D'Amiano, McGreevey, and cret code word “Machiavellian” “Yes, your honor,” to Magistrate ic Ocean” if he doesn’t pay up. says.                                                    E-mail: pillets@northjersey.com
Halper meet in a hallway. During      during the conversation, the in- Madeline Cox Arleo.                      D’Amiano succeeded in lining            At one point, D’Amiano tells
the brief meeting, McGreevey          dictment says. The code word           D’Amiano was released on up more than a dozen meetings Halper that it will cost him
calls for and asks "state official 2" would reassure the farmer that $100,000 bond, secured by two and phone calls with sympathet- $35,000 in contributions and A glossary
[former Deputy Chief of Staff Amy the officials were sympathetic rental properties he owns in ic officials, according to the in- $35,000 in cash to stop a Piscat- Federal officials say fund-raiser
                                      and could deliver on their prom- Woodbridge. His travel was re- dictment. Among them:                          away vote on a certain zoning is- David D'Amiano, who allegedly ex-
Mansue] to follow up. In introduc- ise to preserve his farm.              stricted to New Jersey and New        ä Dec. 20, 2002: D’Amiano sue. The fund-raiser later com- torted campaign cash from Mid-
ing her to Halper, McGreevey             McGreevey did indeed refer York City, and he was ordered meets with McGreevey in plains, however, that he had got- dlesex County farmer Mark Halper,
uses the word "Machiavelli."          to the Italian Renaissance to turn over any weapons and Princeton and speaks to Halper ten few favors from township of- used colorful shorthand and code
ä Feb. 19 — Halper gives D'Ami-       philosopher and his famous his passport.                              by telephone. The governor tells ficials even though he raised words on his own or to communi-
ano a $5,000 cash installment.        book on cutthroat politics with-       D’Amiano’s lawyers said their the farmer to “double back” and $275,000 in contributions “on cate with others. Here is a sample
                                      in minutes of meeting Halper. In client would plead not guilty, but press his case with Middlesex top of the table” and other “stuff of the allegations from Tuesday's
D'Amiano also is recorded saying introducing Halper to Mansue, refused to comment on the County officials.                                           under the table.”
that everything was moving for-                                                                                                                                                          indictment:
                                      McGreevey pointed out that the charges, saying they just received         ä Jan. 23, 2003: Halper and             D’Amiano emerged on New
ward and the farm owner would                                                                                                                                                            ä “Machiavellian” — A code
                                      farmer was reading from “The the indictment Tuesday morn- D’Amiano meet with Middlesex Jersey’s public stage during Mc-
                                                                                                                                                                                         word used by officials connected
be happy.                             Prince” by Machiavelli to learn ing.
                                                                                                                                                                                         with D'Amiano to signal that they
ä May 21 — After all but $10,000      how to deal with the farm nego-        Federal agents tried to arrest
                                                                                                                                                                                         were aware of efforts to provide
of the $40,000 in payments had
                                      tiations, the indictment says.      D’Amiano early Tuesday morn-        Niccolo Machiavelli                                                        favorable treatment to Halper's
                                         On Tuesday, McGreevey ac- ing at his home in Edison, but             1469-1527
been made, D'Amiano, Halper,                                                                                                                                                             farm. At a brief meeting with
                                      knowledged        dropping      the left without making the arrest.
and unidentified county officials                                                                             WHO: A political philosopher                                               Halper on Feb. 18, 2003, Mc-
                                      philosopher’s name during his They instead arranged for
                                                                                                              and Italian diplomat during the                                            Greevey also used the word
meet to negotiate for farmland        meeting with Halper, but said it D’Amiano to turn himself in lat-
                                                                                                              Renaissance who gained ever-                                               "Machiavelli."
preservation. One official says the was only an innocent reference. er in the day, said Christie
                                         “It was not a code word,” the spokesman Michael Drewniak.            lasting fame - and infamy - for                                            ä “Mulch and Topsoil” — Refers
county would be willing to make                                                                               "The Prince," a political treatise                                         to $20,000 in campaign contribu-
                                      governor said. “It was a literary      In addition to four counts of
an offer of $7.4 million, or more                                                                             in which he advised a ruler how                                            tions and $20,000 in cash pay-
                                      allusion. In New Jersey politics, mail and wire fraud, D’Amiano
than double the original offer.       ‘Machiavelli’ is not a far-off, re- faces two counts of extortion       to stay in power.                                                          ments that D'Amiano allegedly de-
ä Sept. 16 — Middlesex County         mote word.”                         and a single bribery count. Con-    HIS MESSAGE: Essentially, that                                             manded from Halper. In exchange,
                                         Christie, a Republican ap- viction on any of the counts              the end justifies the means. Poli-                                         D'Amiano reportedly agreed to
officials suggest to Halper that the
                                      pointee who met with reporters could bring him a five- to 20-           tics cannot be governed by a                                               use his influence to help Halper
farmland preservation deal could                                                                                                                                                         get a better deal for his farm.
                                      here after the indictment was year prison term and a $250,000           single set of moral or religious
be done if Halper agreed to ac-                                                                               absolutes, he suggested, and vi-
                                      unsealed, carefully navigated the fine.                                                                                                            ä “Three Nickels” — Refers to
cept $7.35 million, with certain      political implications. He re-         D’Amiano also is charged         olence, expediency, and deception are acceptable if a head of state        $15,000 that D'Amiano was al-
conditions regarding the use of       fused to name either of the two with pocketing contributions            needs them to maintain authority.                                          legedly still seeking from Halper in
the farm. Halper wants to negoti-     top state officials or three Mid- that he should have forwarded         HIS GOAL: "The Prince" is an impassioned call for Italian unity -          February 2003.
ate the uses. D'Amiano also tells     dlesex County officials, all of to the Democratic State Com-            and an end to foreign intervention - at a time of intense political        ä “Disneyland” — Another code
Halper that the price is "con-        whose voices appear on the mittee. And in another alleged               conflict among the city-states of Florence, Milan, Venice, and             word D'Amiano said would be
firmed" and that nothing could        tapes.                              scheme, D’Amiano sought to ex-      Naples, as well as the Papacy, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman           used by Middlesex County offi-
                                         Christie painted D’Amiano as tort money from Halper that             Empire. In reality, it wasn't until 1870 - more than 350 years after its   cials to signal that they had com-
have been accomplished without one more example of New Jer- would be used to buy special fa-                  writing - that Italy became a unified country.                             pleted their work on behalf of
the help of McGreevey.                sey’s rampant problem of public vors from Piscataway officials                                                                                     Halper.
                                                                                                              HIS QUOTES: "It is much more secure to be feared, than to be
ä October — Indictment states         corruption, which includes Re- concerning development of a              loved."                                                                    ä “275 on Top ... of the Table” —
that Halper could not get farm        publicans like James Treffinger, commercial bank on a parcel                                                                                       Refers to an amount of money
                                                                                                              "All armed prophets have conquered and unarmed ones failed."
deal finalized because he could       the former Essex County execu- owned by Halper.                                                                                                    D'Amiano says he raised for offi-
                                      tive who is in federal prison on       Christie would not describe      HIS FANS: Cromwell, Frederick the Great, Louis XIV, Napoleon,
not coordinate schedules with                                                                                 Bismark, Hitler. Dick Morris, the disgraced former adviser to Presi-       cials he was negotiating with on
                                      bribery charges.                    the origins of the investigation                                                                               behalf of Halper.
county officials.                        “This is the latest chapter in nor say how his office first came     dent Bill Clinton, wrote his own version of "The Prince."
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                 THE RECORD 31


                                                                                        Published Sunday, July 11, 2004



D’Amiano’s influence paints troubling picture
By MITCHEL MADDUX
TRENTON BUREAU                          Scenes from an indictment
     One day late last August,          The 47-page indictment released by federal prosecutors last week describes in vivid detail how Democratic fund-raiser David D'Amiano used his connections to allegedly forge a
David M. D’Amiano was at yet            sweetheart land deal for one contributor. A primer on some key locales in the budding scandal:
another fund-raising event and,
yet again, at the side of Governor
McGreevey.
   They were talking about the
farm.
   D’Amiano explained that he
had talked with an official in
Middlesex County about the con-
troversial property, just as Mc-
Greevey had instructed him. And
McGreevey replied that he al-
ready knew this; he already knew
where negotiations about pre-
serving the farm stood.
   It was just a brief chat caught
on tape, a tape that is now evi-
dence in a federal extortion and
bribery probe that could turn           Drumthwacket, the Governor’s Mansion in Princeton: March 19, 2004: Governor                  East Brunswick Hilton: On Feb. 18, 2003, McGreevey meets with D’Amiano and
New Jersey’s political world on         McGreevey meets with four federal agents who confront him with secretly taped evi-           Halper to discuss the farm and is caught on tape uttering the mysterious word “Machi-
its head.                               dence, including a recording of the governor uttering the alleged code word “Machi-          avellian.” Prosecutors say it is a code word used by conspirators in the land-deal
   McGreevey’s meeting with             avellian."                                                                                   scheme.
D’Amiano was one of more than
a dozen between the fund-raiser
and officials that were taped se-
cretly as part of a corruption
probe that was outlined in a 47-
page indictment announced by
the U.S. Attorney’s Office last
week. While the document does
not name McGreevey, the gover-
nor has acknowledged to re-
porters that he is the “State Offi-
cial 1” who prosecutors believe
played a key role in a sweetheart
land deal for a Middlesex County
contributor.
   The governor, who is not
charged in the indictment, has                                                                                                       Cornell Dairy Farm: 74-acre Piscataway tract that is at the center of federal indict-
strongly denied any wrongdoing          Dauman Industries: D'Amiano and unnamed Middlesex County officials meet in the               ments. Prosecutors say Democratic fund-raiser David D’Amiano extorted $40,000 from
and says his conversations with         offices of D’Amiano’s mulch business to hammer out details on a $7.4 million sweet-          farm owner Mark Halper to set up a deal that would save the farm from condemnation.
D’Amiano and farm owner Mark            heart deal to preserve political donor Mark Halper’s Piscataway farm. At a Jan. 23,          At least five state and Middlesex County officials took part in the scheme, the indict-
Halper were innocent and rou-           2003, meeting, one county official is secretly taped using the code word “Disneyland.”       ment says.
tine chats with constituents.
   But the U.S. attorney’s de-
scription of McGreevey’s contact       role in the preservation of a con-     discuss specifics of the indict-      rentine political theorist Niccolo   said in the past that they at-        cided with McGreevey’s guber-
with D’Amiano and Halper, if           troversial Middlesex County farm       ment, but said both he and his        Machiavelli.                         tempted to help Halper properly       natorial campaigns in 1997 and
correct, is a troubling illustration   that had been the subject of con-      administration had acted “appro-         The governor, in response to      access state programs and servic-     2001, when the Carteret waste re-
of the clout big fund-raisers have     demnation proceedings since            priately, ethically, and honestly.”   the indictment, has said he was      es that might help him preserve       cycler raised more than $100,000
within the administration of the       1999? Experts on government               The indictment describes in        only making a literary allusion to   his farm.                             for the man who became gover-
Woodbridge Democrat.                   ethics say the actions described in    detail three conversations among      the complexities of politics in         Yet, if the indictment describes   nor. That was a time when Mc-
   D’Amiano, a 45-year-old trash       the indictment raise red flags.        Halper, D’Amiano, and Mc-             New Jersey. But prosecutors          events correctly, McGreevey dep-      Greevey’s formidable fund-rais-
recycler with a poor environ-             Larry Noble, executive direc-       Greevey.                              maintain the reference was a pre-    utized his own fund-raiser to me-     ing operation broke state records,
mental record and a long history       tor of the Center for Responsive          On one occasion when               arranged code word that would        diate in a preservation controver-    generating $28.2 million for the
of tax delinquency, emerges in         Politics, a non-partisan research      D’Amiano was attending a party        prove to Halper that the gover-      sy that has pitted Halper against     Democratic State Committee in
the indictment as a virtual minis-     institution in Washington that         at the governor’s home in Prince-     nor was aware of D’Amiano’s          Piscataway officials since 1999,      2001, when he was making his
ter of McGreevey’s government.         tracks how money influences            ton, the indictment says, the         controversial, back-channel ne-      when the township first sought to     second run for governor.
He brags about working late            public policy, said the arrange-       fund-raiser hooked up Halper          gotiations on the farm.              condemn his farm out of fear he          D’Amiano’s alleged role as a
nights on behalf of the governor.      ment was clearly disturbing.           and the governor via cellphone.          At the meeting as described by    might sell it to home developers.     de facto government minister for
For the better part of a year in          “What makes this particularly       McGreevey advised the farmer to       the indictment, McGreevey in-           Several months after the           McGreevey raises difficult ques-
2002 and 2003, D’Amiano is in          troubling is not just that you leave   talk to a Middlesex County offi-      troduced Halper to his deputy        Hilton meeting, McGreevey once        tions for some experts who study
frequent contact — by fax, phone,      this to an intermediary, but you       cial and then “double back” with      chief of staff, Amy B. Mansue, a     again met with Halper and             how access is granted to top pol-
e-mail, and in person — with Mc-       leave it to an intermediary who is     D’Amiano after that conversa-         key assistant who was known as       D’Amiano, the indictment says.        icymakers.
Greevey and several of his top         a fund-raiser,” said Noble, a for-     tion, the indictment says.            the governor’s contact with fund-    This time, the meeting took place        Michele L. Swers, a professor
aides.                                 mer legal counsel at the Federal          About two months later, in         raisers and other favor-seekers.     during a fund-raising gathering of    of American government at
   And several of the meetings         Election Commission. “When             February 2003, Halper met with        Mansue’s duties included direct-     prominent trash haulers in            Georgetown University, said the
that were secretly taped by            you give that fund-raiser the ap-      McGreevey for five minutes in         ing constituents to state offices    Florham Park. Prosecutors say it      real issue is about democracy it-
Halper in his role as a cooperat-      pearance of acting in some kind        the hallway of the East               and programs that might address      was at this event that McGreevey      self: Why should well-connected
ing informant show D’Amiano            of official capacity, you really in-   Brunswick Hilton, where a De-         their concerns.                      referred to his earlier directive     favor-seekers and fund-raisers
serving as an intermediary be-         crease the perception that they        mocratic State Committee meet-           The state Agriculture Depart-     asking D’Amiano to intercede on       have special access to the ma-
tween McGreevey and Middlesex          are selling access and selling ties    ing was under way, the indict-        ment was also aware of Halper’s      the farm issue.                       chinery of government that is
County officials who control           to the administration.”                ment says. The meeting was            problems. The agency, which em-         Later at this same event,          supposed to be enjoyed equally
county land preservation pro-             Kathy Ellis, a spokeswoman          arranged by D’Amiano, who was         ploys 258 civil servants and has a   D’Amiano made a public intro-         by all? “Is it personal connec-
grams that eventually offered          for the governor, declined to          also present.                         budget of $18.5 million, special-    duction of McGreevey to those in      tions that get you in the door, or
Halper a lucrative $7.4 million        comment for this article.                 It was during this brief chat,     izes in assisting farmers with a     attendance, according to the in-      is it campaign donations that get
for his 74 acre Piscataway tract.         McGreevey, speaking to re-          the indictment says, that Mc-         wide spectrum of concerns.           dictment.                             you in the door?” Swers asked.
   Why was D’Amiano allowed            porters at a bill-signing ceremony     Greevey mentioned the word               Mansue and officials at the          D’Amiano’s emergence onto
to take such an apparently active      Friday, declined once again to         “Machiavelli,” referring to Flo-      Agriculture Department have          New Jersey’s public stage coin-       E-mail: maddux@northjersey.com


                  Published Friday, Sept. 17, 2004
                                                                                                                                    Published Friday, March 19, 2004

   AN EDITORIAL
         Trenton’s slime pit
     Big money fuels a climate of corruption

T
      HE PAST 10 days just might              Kushner mess — at least not the
      be the most tumultuous —                mess that is sending the real estate
      and the most sordid — in                baron to prison for many months.
New Jersey’s political history.               But as The Record’s front-page sto-
   First, Governor McGreevey an-              ry today shows, Mr. McGreevey,
nounced plans to resign amid                  Mr. Kushner, and Mr. Cipel have
claims he was being extorted by his           been part of an insiders’ web that’s
alleged gay lover, Golan Cipel, an            made the state a national disgrace.
Israeli national formerly on the                 Until the scandal involving Mr.
State House payroll. Then last                Cipel, money alone was the major
week, Mr. McGreevey’s chief fund-             corrupting influence. The zeal for
raiser, Charles Kushner — one of              campaign donations that has dom-
the nation’s top political fat cats —         inated Mr. McGreevey’s term in of-
pleaded guilty to charges ranging             fice is the reason for most of the
from 16 counts of lying on his tax            hideous or dubious legislation that
returns to hiring prostitutes to in-          was passed. The system of fast-
timidate witnesses in a federal in-           tracking of state permits for big de-
vestigation. Things can’t get taw-            velopers comes immediately to
drier than this.                              mind. And you can blame that zeal
   What slime pit has New Jersey              for money for every piece of
descended into? It’s so bad a poli-           worthwhile legislation that got cas-          fice now requires tens of millions           sey voters will rally behind candi-          penny. The governor could have is-
ticsnj.com columnist has taken to             trated along the way — most no-               of dollars. And unless you have the          dates who champion integrity in              sued that order the day he took of-
running such items as “New Jersey             tably, efforts to clean up campaign           deep pockets of Sen. Jon Corzine,            office and true campaign-finance             fice, but didn’t because he feared
Felon of the Day.” Newsweek,                  financing and government ethics.              it’s all too tempting to get involved        reform to take the corrosive influ-          upsetting the Legislature. Ambition
meanwhile, wrote last week that                  Mr. McGreevey’s missteps have              in unsavory alliances and do                 ence of county bosses and big                should be made of sterner stuff.
“New Jersey’s history of corruption           been so enormous that they dwarf              what’s in the best interests of your         campaign donations out of the po-               The sad irony of all this is that in
has been rivaled by no other state,           his accomplishments, from cham-               backers, not what’s in the best in-          litical system for good.                     his inaugural address, Mr. Mc-
with the possible exceptions of Illi-         pioning stem-cell research to over-           terests of New Jersey. As of last               For his part, Mr. McGreevey is            Greevey proclaimed that “my ad-
nois and Louisiana.” The residents            hauling E-ZPass and the DMV.                  week, 19 of Mr. McGreevey’s                  considering an executive order that          ministration will change the way
of this state deserve better.                    And those missteps are part of a           fund-raisers were indicted, con-             would help stop some campaign-fi-            Trenton does business.”
   U.S. Attorney Christopher                  larger climate of corruption that             victed, or under investigation.              nancing abuses. But the damage                  Well, he did. He made things
Christie has said that Mr. Mc-                revolves around the almighty dol-                Maybe something good will rise            has been done, and the Democrats             worse than anyone could have
Greevey is not involved in the                lar. To get elected to statewide of-          from this swamp. Maybe New Jer-              have played the system for every             imagined.
32 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                          JANUARY 2005




                                                                 F R I E N D             O F        T H E         P E O P L E             I T       S E R V E S
                                                                                              www.northjersey.com

                                                                                     Published Wednesday, July 14, 2004




McGreevey’s top donor
charged in sex-tape plot
Money                                                                                                                                                                                               Kushner
man now                                                                                                                                                                                             allegedly
a liability                                                                                                                                                                                         interfered
By JOSH GOHLKE                                                                                                                                                                                      with probe
TRENTON BUREAU
                                                                                                                                                                                                    By AMY KLEIN, CLINT RILEY,
   Tuesday’s charges against Gov-                                                                                                                                                                   and JEFF PILLETS
ernor McGreevey’s most prolific                                                                                                                                                                      STAFF WRITERS
fund-raiser were another reminder
that fund raising, a crucial ingredi-                                                                                                                                                                     Real estate mogul Charles
ent of the governor’s success, may                                                                                                                                                                  Kushner, who has financed the
be the one most likely to spoil it.                                                                                                                                                                 campaigns of Governor Mc-
   The allegations against real es-                                                                                                                                                                 Greevey and many of the region’s
tate developer Charles Kushner —                                                                                                                                                                    top Democrats, was shackled and
accused of hiring a prostitute to                                                                                                                                                                   charged Tuesday with hiring two
muck up a continuing federal in-                                                                                                                                                                    New York City call girls to obstruct
vestigation of his taxes and cam-                                                                                                                                                                   a federal investigation of his alleged
paign donations — are far removed                                                                                                                                                                   financial misdeeds.
from the State House. But Kushn-                                                                                                                                                                        Kushner, 50, paid $37,000 to
er’s key role in funding Mc-                                                                                                                                                                        hire two intermediaries and the
Greevey’s campaign now becomes                                                                                                                                                                      prostitutes, including one who was
a political liability.                                                                                                                                                                              videotaped in December having
   The charges against Kushner                                                                                                                                                                      sex in a Bridgewater motel room
come only a week after the much                                                                                                                                                                     with a witness in the federal probe,
more extensive extortion and                                                                                                                                                                        according to a criminal complaint
bribery indictment against anoth-                                                                                                                                                                   from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in
er fund-raiser, trash recycler David                                                                                                                                                                Newark.
D’Amiano. That indictment re-                                                                                                                                                                           Kushner held onto the tape un-
ferred frequently to the governor’s                                                                                                                                                                 til May, when he allegedly ordered
relationship with D’Amiano.                                                                                                                                                                         an associate to mail it along with
   The two criminal cases have                                                                                                                                                                      still photos of the encounter to the
marred what would otherwise                                                                                                                                                                         witness and his wife, who was
have been a good summer for the                                                                                                                                                                     identified in the complaint as
governor.                                                                                                                                                                                           Kushner’s close relative. The tape
   He and his fellow Democrats in                                                                                                                                                                   was mailed two days after Kushn-
the Legislature have enacted con-                                                                                                                                                                   er’s associates were told they were
troversial but generally popular                                                                                                                                                                    targets of a grand jury investigation,
environmental and budget pro-                                                                                                                                                                       the complaint said.
posals, and McGreevey’s poll                                                                                                                                                                            Sources with knowledge of the
numbers have, at long last, been                                                                                                                                                                    case identified the couple as Kush-
improving.                                                                                                                                                                                          ner’s sister and brother-in-law, Es-
   But much of that would not                                                                                                                                                                       ther and William Schulder of West
have been possible without the                                                                                                                                                                      Orange, who are cooperating with
money. Under the governor’s lead-                                                                                                                                                                   the government investigation into
ership, the Democratic Party won                                                                                                                                                                    Kushner’s campaign contributions
total control of the Legislature last                                                                                                                                                               and alleged tax fraud.
fall, with unprecedented campaign                                                                                                                                                                       Kushner also is charged with
spending. In the final weeks of the                                                                                                                                                                 trying unsuccessfully to arrange for
race, the largest Democratic or-                                                                                                                                                                    a prostitute to seduce and tape an-
ganizations collected more than                                                                                                                                                                     other witness, the complaint said.
$22 million, out-raising Republi-                                                                                                                                                                   That witness, who was identified
cans 3 to 1.                                                                                                                                                                                        Tuesday by his attorney as Joseph
   The legislative campaign was a                                                                                                          TARIQ ZEHAWI/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER                          Yontef, Kushner’s former account-
continuation of the aggressive fi- Developer Charles Kushner leaving the federal courthouse in Newark through a back entrance. He is flanked by his lawyers, Alfred DeCotiis,                       ant, resisted the call girl’s advances.
      See FUND RAISING Page 33 left, and Benjamin Brafman. A grand jury has 30 days to indict Kushner, whom Governor McGreevey once wanted to lead the Port Authority.                                          See KUSHNER Page 34




Commerce Bank quits bond business
By RICHARD NEWMAN                                                                                                                                                                            with any wrongdoing, nor will any of its of-
STAFF WRITER

   Commerce Bancorp said Tuesday that
                                              CEO cites heat from corruption inquiries                                                                                                       ficers or employees,” Critchley said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                When an analyst asked if prosecutors
                                                                                                                                                                                             or financial services regulators had sought
it will shut down its municipal bond un-      city treasurer in exchange for government       known for its politically connected              ance broker, or bond underwriter in New       bank documents in any other investiga-
derwriting business in an attempt to re-      bond business. The indictment repeatedly        lawyers who argue before zoning boards           Jersey.                                       tions, Critchley said, “The answer to the
store investor confidence after last          said Holck and Umbrell communicated             in towns where it wants to open branch-             In its report, titled “Banking on Your     question is no.”
month’s indictment of two executives in a     with the company CEO about their deal-          es.                                              Money,” The Record found that Com-               The bank’s securities lawyer, Larry
government corruption probe.                  ings with the treasurer, but Hill was not          “Until the Philadelphia trial is com-         merce had hired or given campaign do-         Wiseman, fielded a question on the out-
   Commerce, the largest bank headquar-       indicted.                                       pletely behind them, the stock is going to       nations to a passel of political insiders in  come of an informal Securities and Ex-
tered in New Jersey, also hired the Wash-        When governments raise money for             trade with this dark cloud above it,” said       New Jersey, including a former acting gov-    change Commission investigation dis-
ington law firm Perkins Coie to review        capital projects by selling bonds, an un-       Gerard Cassidy, analyst with RBC Capital         ernor, two former state Senate presidents,    closed by the company last October. “We
policies on how it deals with government      derwriter acts as an intermediary between       Markets. “We’d like to take management           and five county party bosses. Bergen          anticipate nothing further, nor have we
clients, officials said Tuesday as the com-   the government and investors, earning           at their word, but we just don’t know.”          County Democratic leader Joseph Fer-          heard anything further from the regula-
pany announced another quarter of             commissions and fees. Hill said the un-            “I think the company did a good job ar-       riero was among the latter.                   tors,” Wiseman said.
record earnings.                              derwriting business accounted for only 1        ticulating their view but I can’t help but          And in some instances, repeated mon-          Asked if he had heard the FBI tapes of
   The move involving the bond business       percent of the bank’s revenue, and said         think that there is still headline risk,” said   ey transfers between political funds con-     phone conversations that got Holck and
is the second by the company in 15            the move will not affect its earning pre-       Jacqueline Reeves, managing director at          trolled by Commerce Bancorp, the hold-        Umbrell into trouble, Critchley said he
months designed to blunt criticism of its     dictions for this year.                         Ryan Beck & Co.                                  ing company for the regional bank, al-        had not, and declined to identify the gov-
actions in the public sector. Commerce           In 2003, Commerce was the 10th                  Indeed, Commerce stock fell another           lowed Commerce employees to sidestep          ernment officials whom he said helped
closed its political action committee in      largest underwriter of short-term bonds in      92 cents Tuesday, to $54.26, even after the      laws intended to limit political donations    him conclude that there would be no
New Jersey last year amid criticism that      the country, and the 23rd largest in long-      company reported big jumps in deposits           from those who profit from government         more fallout from the Philadelphia case.
arose as The Record and other news out-       term bonds, according to figures from The       and loans. The Cherry Hill-based bank,           bond deals. (The articles are available on-      Critchley said he is confident the two
lets reported on the extent to which Com-     Bond Buyers Municipal Marketplace, a            which has more than 250 branches in              line at www.northjersey.com/ commerce-        executives will be exonerated. He said the
merce had used political contributions to     trade publication.                              New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and          bank) Analysts said they were satisfied       bank is paying their salaries and legal fees
win government banking business in the           “The better we do [in bond underwrit-        Delaware, earned $66.2 million in the sec-       that the closing of the bond business         while they are on suspension. .
state.                                        ing], the higher our reputational risk,” Hill   ond quarter, up 46 percent from the year-        would not have a major impact on Com-            The Comptroller of the Currency, one
   In a conference call Tuesday with skep-    said.                                           ago period.                                      merce’s earnings. But more than half of an    of the federal regulators with oversight of
tical analysts, Chief Executive Vernon Hill      Even after closing its political action         Commerce, which plans to open 50              hour-long conference call was dedicated       Commerce Bancorp operations, has indi-
II vowed “to make sure our brand is pro-      committee and now withdrawing from              branches this year, calls itself “America’s      to questions about the indictments.           cated it would pursue no “special action”
tected in almost any foreseeable circum-      the government underwriting business,           most convenient’’ bank and boasts of its            “There is not going to be a second shoe    related to the Philadelphia case, Hill said.
stance.”                                      Commerce maintains close ties to gov-           Sunday hours and free coin-counting ma-          dropped,” company lawyer Michael                 “What if the accused bankers turn
   The stock has fallen more than 15 per-     ernment leaders. Former acting Gov.             chines.                                          Critchley said.                               state’s evidence?’’ an analyst asked.
cent since Glenn K. Holck, president of       Donald T. DiFrancesco, a Republican, sits          An eight-month investigation by The              “The government conducted an investi-         “I’m not going to answer any hypo-
the bank’s Pennsylvania operations, and       on the bank’s board, as does Democratic         Record revealed last year that from 1997         gation, and the government concluded an       thetical questions,” Critchley replied.
Stephen Umbrell, a regional vice presi-       power broker George Norcross III. About         to 2002, Commerce made more political            investigation. At the end of the investiga-
dent, were indicted for allegedly approv-     16 percent of the bank’s deposits are from      contributions — and received more no-bid         tion, the bank has not been charged with Staff Writer Clint Riley contributed to this ar-
ing personal loans for the Philadelphia       government accounts. And the bank is            contracts — than any other bank, insur-          any wrongdoing, nor will it be charged ticle. E-mail: newman@northjersey.com
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                        THE RECORD 33


                                                                                      Published Wednesday, July 14, 2004


                                                                                                                                                                                         Kushner proves
                                                                                                                                                                                         rich not smarter
                                                                                                                                                                                         than rest of us
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               NEWARK
                                                                                                                                                                                             The man, described by his well-tanned at-
                                                                                                                                                                                          torney as “one of the great philanthropists of
                                                                                                                                                                                          this century,” had no belt, no tie.
                                                                                                                                                                                             But Charlie Kushner, the multimillion-
                                                                                                                                                                                          dollar real estate mogul who became Gover-
                                                                                                                                                                                          nor McGreevey’s top cam-
                                                                                                                                                                                          paign contributor, definite-
                                                                                                                                                                                          ly had leg irons and hand-
                                                                                                                                                                                          cuffs as he shuffled into a
                                                                                                                                                                                          federal courtroom Tuesday
                                                                                                                                                                                          and came face to face with
                                                                                                                                                                                          a problem that no amount
                                                                                                                                                                                          of cash may erase.
                                                                                                                                                                                             If federal charges
                                                                                                                                                                                          against Kushner are true,                 MIKE
                                                                                                                                                                                          he seems to have concoct-
                                                                                                                                                                                          ed a plot that looks like a               KELLY
                                                                                                                                                                                          cross between the “The
                                                                                                                                                                                          Sopranos” and “Seinfeld.”
                                                                                                                                                                                             Think of Jerry Seinfeld at the Bada Bing
                                                                                                                                                                                          and you get the idea.
                                                                                                                                                                                             This one has hookers and videotape, a
                                                                                                                                                                                          botched blackmail attempt, a motel called
                                                                                                                                                                                          the “Red Bull Inn,” and a diner called “Time
                                                                                                                                                                                          to Eat.” It also has enough stupidity to make
                                                                                                                                                                                          you wonder how Charlie Kushner could be-
                                                                                                                                                                                          come so rich — rich enough to amass a real
                                                                                                                                                                                          estate fortune and have enough spare cash
                                                                                                                                                                                          to bankroll McGreevey and other Democra-
                                                                                                                                                                                          tic Party candidates with more than $3 mil-
                                                                                                                                                                                          lion in donations in the last five years.
                                                                                                                                                                                             This isn’t just another court case. This is a
                                                                                                                                                          DON SMITH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER case of rich-guy stupidity.
U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, right, and FBI agent Joseph Billy Jr. at a news conference about the charges against Democratic fund-raiser Charles Kushner.                          You can’t make it up.
                                                                                                                                                                                             Last week, the feds indicted a McGreevey
                                                                                                                                                                                          fund-raiser who came up with a code word
Fund raising: Governor’s success becomes liability                                                                                                                                        — Machiavellian — to signal his alleged deal-
                                                                                                                                                                                          making. This week, we have Kushner, one
                                                                                                                                                                                          of the richest guys in New Jersey, allegedly
From Page 32                                      Kushner has been fined for using his the actions of others — even actions Taffet was his campaign manager.                              hiring prostitutes to work on his behalf.
nance operation that got McGreevey myriad business partnerships to orches- wholly unrelated to politics.”                                        But the governor’s communications           Kushner is accused of trying to thwart a
into office in 2001. That year, Democrats trate contributions to federal campaign                Christie has denied that, saying his of- director, Kathleen Ellis, said the Mc- federal investigation of his taxes and cam-
spent more than $42 million to Repub- funds benefiting, among other Democ- fice pursues investigations regardless of Greevey campaign took great pains to paign contributions by hiring hookers to
licans’ $18 million. Considering that he rats: McGreevey, former presidential the partisan implications.                                     check out the sources of contributions. blackmail potential witnesses. Kushner was
had no statewide power base, Mc- candidate Bill Bradley, and former Sen.                         The Democratic view of Tuesday’s She said it could not know everything even willing to shell out $25,000 each for
Greevey had to “cast the net far and Robert G. Torricelli.                                   charges — as wholly separate from Mc- about the people who solicited them.                   hookers and handlers, court papers say.
wide, no doubt about it,” one Democra-            And a Record investigation found that Greevey — might win more sympathy if                     “The part of the fund-raising operation     One problem, though. The lugs Kushner
tic official remarked of the gubernatori- Kushner and his companies circumvent- they did not seem to fit into a larger pat- that the campaign could control was allegedly hired to find the hookers couldn’t
al campaign.                                  ed campaign-finance limits to funnel $1.5 tern. Kushner and D’Amiano are not the scrupulous,” Ellis said.                                   find any.
   The same official suggested that, given million in contributions to McGreevey’s only gubernatorial patrons who are ac-                        “The contributions were all scruti-         “Seinfeld” anyone? How about “Dumb
the scope of McGreevey’s fund-raising political funds from 1997 to 2002.                     cused of running afoul of commonly ac- nized and vetted to a degree that they and Dumber”? So Kushner, who is smart
operations, the number of fund-raisers            Still, some Democrats bristled at the cepted ethical standards.                            hadn’t been before. It appears that some enough to oversee 40 partnerships from his
under investigation or indictment, in that suggestion that Kushner’s behavior is a               Roger Chugh, whose avid fund raising aspects of fund raising are beyond the headquarters in Florham Park and influen-
context, is “very small.”                     mark against McGreevey. One operative helped him get a position in the admin- eyes and ears and ethics of those who are tial enough to have placed himself in line for
   Republicans took advantage of the lat- repeated a favorite counterattack — that istration, resigned in disgrace last year. part of a campaign.”                                        the Port Authority chairmanship before he
est accusation Tuesday, with a statement U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, a Federal authorities are investigating                          The state Republican Party’s finance resigned abruptly last year, went ahead and
headlined “McGreevey’s Web of Cor- Republican and oft-rumored gubernato- whether he coerced fellow Indian-Amer- chairman, William Palatucci, said that reportedly found the hookers himself in
ruption Widens.”                              rial hopeful, seems to have political as icans in Woodbridge into contributing to vetting contributors and fund-raisers is Manhattan.
   Sen. Joseph Kyrillos of Monmouth well as law-enforcement goals.                           McGreevey’s campaign.                           difficult but necessary.                        Yep, you heard that right: Rich guy goes
County, the state Republican chairman,            “Instead of making this a part of his          The governor’s former chief of staff,           In particular, he said, those in charge on hooker hunt.
called on Democrats to “come clean and larger case [against Kushner], the U.S. at- Gary Taffet, and chief counsel, Paul of campaign fund raising have to draw a                              The feds won’t say how Kushner did this.
return the hundreds of thousands of dol- torney consciously chose to issue what Levinsohn, also face a federal investiga- “bright line” between backers who want But the notion is so surreal that even U.S.
lars in illegal contributions they received amounts to a standalone, smutty sex nov- tion of a successful billboard business recognition and those who expect quid Attorney Christopher J. Christie had trouble
from Charles Kushner and David el, knowing full well it would allow Re- they sold just before McGreevey took of- pro quo.                                                                 holding back a smile as he described it.
D’Amiano that have greatly aided Jim publican politicians to exploit it precise- fice — and after they secured zoning ap-                        “It’s been very frustrating for the Re- Kushner looks like he ought to be lining up
McGreevey and the Democrats in recent ly the way they have today,” the Demo- provals on several public properties. The publicans to understand why they can’t putts at Pebble Beach, not lining up hookers
years.”                                       crat said.                                     U.S. Securities and Exchange Commis- compete in terms of fund raising,” on Eighth Avenue.
   The governor’s supporters said such            “Either he’s a horrific publicity hound, sion, meanwhile, is suing Taffet on insid- Palatucci said.                                        With the hookers in his pocket, the feds
statements were inappropriate, but in- or he’s trying to help Republicans smear er-trading grounds. Levinsohn led Mc-                            “And now I think we’re starting to un- say, Kushner orchestrated a plan to have
evitable.                                     the governor and other Democrats with Greevey’s fund-raising operation, and derstand some of the reasons why.”                              them lure two potential federal witnesses to
                                                                                                                                                                                          the Time to Eat diner in Somerville and then
                                                                                                                                                                                          to Bridgewater’s Red Bull Inn for fun, frolic,
                                                                                                                                                                                          and a secret video — all of which Kushner
                                            The case against Charles Kushner                                                                                                              planned to use to coerce the witnesses and
                                                                                                                                                                                          stop them from cooperating with the FBI.
   Federal officials gave the following account of the al- Kushner gives a co-conspirator $25,000 to pay for                ä Mid-December — An attempt by a call girl to se-                Sounds simple, right? Well, consider this
   leged activities of Charles Kushner and two associ-         the scheme.                                                  duce the third cooperating witness fails. She is ulti-        the “Seinfeld” version of Jersey corruption.
   ates - called co-conspirators in the complaint: * Feb- ä November 2003 — Kushner personally hires a call mately paid $2,000 for her efforts.                                              One witness turned down the hooker’s
   ruary 2003 - U.S. Attorney’s Office starts grand jury       girl for $7,000 to $10,000, after the people he re-          ä May 7, 2004 — Kushner associates receive letters
                                                                                                                                                                                          offer. The other ended up at the Red Bull
   investigation into Charles Kushner, focusing on alle-       tained to do it failed.                                                                                                    Inn for some physical activity. Afterward,
                                                                                                                            from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stating that they are
   gations that he violated federal tax and fraud laws                                                                                                                                    Kushner watched the video and “expressed
                                                                                                                            targets of a grand jury investigation.
   and used his real estate companies to violate federal ä Dec. 3, 2003 — Call girl’s first attempt to make                                                                               satisfaction with the result,” the feds say in a
   campaign finance laws.                                      contact with Kushner’s relative fails.                       ä May 9, 2004 — Kushner tells his co-conspirator              statement that accompanied the formal
   ä March 2003 — Kushner and his associates notified ä Dec. 4, 2003 — Call girl makes contact with Kush-
                                                                                                                            that he wants to mail the videotape and photographs           charges.
   of the investigation.                                       ner’s relative outside a diner in Bridgewater, asks the to the relative’s spouse and to the couple’s children.                Five months later — and only days after
                                                               relative for a ride back to her motel, and exchanges         “Defendant Charles Kushner further instructed that            the feds sent letters to Kushner’s associates,
   ä March 2003 — Kushner begins “regular efforts” to
                                                               telephone numbers after her invitation to her room is he wanted the videotape mailed from Canada and                       naming them as targets of a grand jury probe
   persuade investigators that three cooperating wit-                                                                                                                                     — Kushner reportedly ordered the video and
   nesses - including a close relative of Kushner and the      rebuffed.                                                    that he wanted it to arrive at [the couple’s] house im-
                                                               ä Dec. 5, 2003 — Call girl returns to the same motel,        mediately prior to a family party which was sched-            other pictures mailed to the hooker-seduced
   relative’s spouse - are “generally untrustworthy.” A                                                                                                                                   witness and his unsuspecting wife. The feds
   Kushner representative gives investigators an audio         where videotaping equipment has been installed,              uled for the following weekend,” the complaint says.
                                                                                                                            His aide convinces him not to send the tape to the            say Kushner had to be talked out sending
   recording that he secretly made against his relative,       makes contact with Kushner’s relative, and has sex-                                                                        the video to the couple’s children. Maybe it
   saying it proves obstruction of justice.                    ual relations. She is paid $7,000 to $10,000 in cash.        children.
                                                                                                                                                                                          was all that philanthropy Kushner’s deeply
   ä August 2003 — Kushner initiates “a scheme to or-          Kushner’s co-conspirators deliver the tape to Kushn- ä May 10, 2004 — Co-conspirator drives to town in                     tanned lawyer says he is doing that inspired
   chestrate the covert videotaped seduction” of his rel- er at his Florham Park office. Kushner watches the                upstate New York and mails the videotape and pho-             this small moment of reported mercy.
   ative’s spouse. He recruits two people - officials call     tape and expresses “satisfaction” with it. Later,            tos to the couple in Essex County, N.J. When the en-             Oh, yes, Kushner’s lawyer: Say hello to
   them co-conspirators - to hire a woman to seduce            Kushner tells the co-conspirators to engage in a sim- velope arrives a few days later, the couple turn it over             Benjamin Brafman, a guy who knows the
   the spouse and then videotape the two having sex.           ilar scheme with the other cooperating witness.              to federal law enforcement officials.                         meaning of overstatement.
                                                                                                                                                                                             Before he was touting Charlie Kushner
                                                                                                                                                                                          one of the “most successful businessmen in
                                                                                                                                                                                          the United States and one of the great phi-
How series of federal investigations unfolded                                                                                                                                             lanthropists of this century,” Brafman’s
                                                                                                                                                                                          client list has included Michael Jackson,
August 2003 — Federal                         sohn, broke laws when they helped se-           ferred to Vernon W. Hill,                       demn the farm. McGreevey met on at          Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, and Salvatore
prosecutors begin prob-                       cure zoning approvals for more than a           the chief executive offi-                       least three occasions with the farmer,      “Sammy the Bull” Gravano.
ing the activities of Ra-                     dozen billboards on public land around          cer of Commerce Ban-                            Mark Halper, who was secretly cooper-          On Tuesday, as he entered a Newark
jesh “Roger” Chugh, a                         the state that netted them a reported $4 corp. Hill, who was not                                ating with the FBI and wearing a hidden courtroom, Kushner looked over the gallery
key official in the New                       million. Both men were key members of charged with any                                          recording device. McGreevey denies          of FBI agents, journalists, lawyers, and
Jersey Department of                          McGreevey’s fund-raising operation dur- wrongdoing, communi-                                    any wrongdoing and has not been             friends. He pressed his lips together and
State and a top fund-                         ing his 1997 and 2001 bids for governor. cated with the bank’s                                  charged. Federal authorities continue to slumped into a chair, hunching forward as
raiser for Governor Mc-                       That probe is also continuing. Taffet sold Pe+nnsylvania execu-                                 examine whether the McGreevey admin- he listened quietly to Brafman and two oth-
Greevey. Asian shop-           CHUGH          his Highview Planning Associates insur- tives about the Philadel- HILL                          istration improperly assisted D’Amiano      er attorneys whisper instructions.
keepers complain that he’s asked for          ance consulting firm to Kushner in 2000. phia deals, authorities said. Commerce                 in settling $433,000 in tax liens or inter-    Kushner nodded slightly as his attorneys
campaign contributions in exchange for                                                        has wielded political clout and is a pow- vened in the controversial condemnation agreed to $5 million in bail secured by
help with building permits and other is-      June 29, 2004 — Philadelphia bond               erful force in statewide politics. Its politi- of Halper’s Piscataway farm.                 Kushner’s home in Livingston and beach
sues in Woodbridge, where McG reevey lawyer Ronald A. White, a major fund-                    cal action committee, Compac NJ, dis-                                                       house in Elberon. He nodded again when
was mayor during the 1990s. The probe raiser for McGreevey’s 2001 campaign,                   tributed nearly $1.65 million to those          July 13, 2004 —                             the judge ordered him to wear an electronic
into his tactics is still under way.          is indicted on bribery and other federal        running for state and local offices in New Charles Kushner, the                             monitoring devise, turn in his passport, and
                                              charges resulting from his professional         Jersey from 1998 to 2002.                       Florham Park develop-                       not try to obtain any other travel documents.
June 16, 2004 — The                           relationship as a confidant of the city’s                                                       er and landlord who                            Otherwise, he said nothing to the judge.
U.S. Securities and Ex-                       mayor, John Street. The probe centers           July 6, 2004 — David                            contributed more than                          His attorney dutifully marched outside to
change Commission                             on a contracts-for-campaign cash in-            M. D’Amiano, a long-                            $1.5 million to Mc-                         the TV cameras and called the charges
sues former McGreevey                         vestigation in Philadelphia.                    time McGreevey fund-                            Greevey-related cam-                        “baseless” and promised Kushner would be
chief of staff Gary Taffet,                                                                   raiser and owner of a                           paign accounts, is                          exonerated. It hardly seemed to matter,
                                                                                                                                                                           KUSHNER        though.
charging him with civil                       June 29, 2004 — Two top executives of           Carteret recycling and                          charged on federal
insider-trading viola-                                                                        waste-hauling firm, is                          conspiracy, obstruction, and prostitution      Upstairs, one of the richest guys in New
                                              Commerce Bank’s Pennsylvania sub-                                                                                                           Jersey was still in handcuffs and trying to
tions. The SEC says                           sidiary are indicted with White in the          indicted on extortion,                          allegations. Investigators continue to
Taffet earned more than TAFFET                Philadelphia federal probe. The execu-          bribery, and fraud                              probe whether some contributions came fight off a forlorn look.
$250,000 from stock trades that came          tives, Glenn K. Holck and Stephen M.            charges. Federal prose- D’AMIANO                from money improperly diverted from            The man who bankrolled McGreevey got
from insider tips in 1998 and 1999.                                                           cutors allege that D’Amiano took tens of corporate business partners and de-                caught trying to bankroll hookers.
                                              Umbrell, are charged with fixing bids to                                                                                                       Bada Bing.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in Cam- win multimillion-dollar business from                 thousands of dollars from a Middlesex           posits of tenants.
den considers whether Taffet and Mc-                                                          County farmer after promising him to                                                           Bada busted.
                                              Philadelphia’s city government for the                                                                                 — Mitchel Maddux
Greevey’s chief counsel, Paul Levin-          bank. The federal indictment also re-           help resolve a township effort to con-
                                                                                                                                                                                          E-mail: kellym@northjersey.com
34 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                                 JANUARY 2005


                                                                                         Published Wednesday, July 14, 2004

                                                Charles A. Kushner
                                                                                                                                                                                               Governor
                                                                                                                                              biggest political donors. Others who re-

Kushner                                         Personal history
                                                ä Kushner's parents emigrated from
                                                                                                                                              ceived donations include Corzine, U.S.
                                                                                                                                              Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jer-
                                                                                                                                              sey, and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of
From Page 32
    McGreevey’s top campaign donor in
2001, Kushner is the second Democrat-
                                                Russia to the United States in the after-
                                                math of World War II, and he was born
                                                in Brooklyn. His late father, Joseph, was
                                                a Holocaust survivor. Joseph, a carpen-
                                                                                                                                              New York. All are Democrats.
                                                                                                                                              ä Kushner has also employed some of
                                                                                                                                              McGreevey's top aides, including Golan
                                                                                                                                                                                               surrounded
ic fund-raiser this month to be criminal-
ly charged by federal authorities, and one
of several top money men close to the
governor under criminal investigation for
                                                ter, began buying garden apartments
                                                and eventually became a developer.
                                                Kushner, 50, and his brother, Murray, in-
                                                                                                                                              Cipel, an Israeli citizen and public rela-
                                                                                                                                              tions executive whom the governor
                                                                                                                                              named as a homeland security adviser.
                                                                                                                                              In September 2000, Kushner purchased
                                                                                                                                                                                               by pals? Or
their fund-raising tactics. Last week, a
federal grand jury indicted Democratic
fund-raiser and longtime McGreevey
                                                herited the business from their father.
                                                ä Family: Wife, Seryl. Four children,
                                                Dara, Jared, Nicole, and Joshua. They
                                                live in Livingston.
                                                                                                                                              a Woodbridge insurance firm, Highview
                                                                                                                                              Planning, that was owned by Gary
                                                                                                                                              Taffet. Kushner later tapped Taffet to run
                                                                                                                                                                                               just a noose?
friend David D’Amiano on charges that                                                                                                         his insurance subsidiary. Taffet became
he extorted $40,000 in cash and cam-            ä Education: Bachelor's degree, New                                                           McGreevey's chief of staff.                         As Democrats made a frenzied push to
paign contributions from a Middlesex            York University, 1976; law degree, Hofs-
                                                                                                                                              ä Last week, the Federal Election Com-
                                                                                                                                                                                               raise record sums of money to propel James
County farmer in exchange for arranging         tra University Law School, 1979; M.B.A.,
                                                                                                                                              mission imposed a $508,900 civil penal-          E. McGreevey into the governor’s mansion in
a higher price for the condemnation of          New York University, 1979.
                                                                                                                                              ty on Kushner for violating campaign             2001, they were also planting a series of land
the family farm.                                ä Career: A tax lawyer at Price Water-                                                        donation limits. The penalty — the fourth
                                                                                                                                                                                               mines that are now exploding around him.
    U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie,      house & Coopers, 1979-80; lawyer,                                                                                                                 The chief question Tues-
                                                                                                                                              largest civil sanction imposed nation-
however, strongly denied Tuesday any            Brach, Eichler, Rosenberg, Silver, Bern-                                                                                                       day after top contributor
                                                                                                                                              wide since 1980 — was imposed after
connection between the governor and             stein, Hammer & Gladstone in Roseland,                                                                                                         Charles Kushner was ac-
the charges against Kushner. Still,                                                            and residential properties.                    Kushner and his associates gave                  cused of interstate traffick-
                                                1980-84; chairman, Kushner Cos., 1985                                                         $541,000 in federal campaign contribu-
Christie acknowledged publicly for the          to present; chairman, NorCrown Bank,           ä Last fall, a group led by Kushner and                                                         ing in prostitution and wit-
first time that the ongoing, 15-month                                                          U.S. Sen. Jon S. Corzine was among             tions between 1997 and 2000. The law             ness tampering was how
                                                1996 to present. Member of the board                                                          limits annual contributions made by one
probe of Kushner deals with allegations         of trustees at Hofstra University and          four bidders attempting to buy the New                                                          many more explosions Mc-
he violated campaign contribution laws.                                                        Jersey Nets basketball team. Kushner's         donor to $25,000.                                Greevey could take — and
                                                Touro College.
    “This case is, at its core, about ob-                                                      group became one of two finalists when         Controversy                                      there could be more — be-
                                                Business empire
struction of justice. There is nothing,                                                        each offered $300 million for the team.        ä In the past two years, Kushner was             fore his reelection chances                  HERB
                                                ä As New Jersey's biggest landlord,
nothing more sacrosanct than the in-                                                           Kushner sought to keep the team at             sued by his brother, Murray; Robert              in 2005 are blown away.
tegrity of the federal grand jury process,”     Kushner owns or operates about 9 mil-          Continental Arena, contingent on a $125        Yontef, a former executive at his firm;             Well, this is New Jersey,            JACKSON
said Christie, a Republican who has not         lion square feet of retail and residential                                                                                                     and he clearly is not dead
                                                                                               million building renovation. He lost out       and Nicholas W. Minoia, a former busi-                                                      CAPITAL
ruled out running against McGreevey             space, including 22,000 rental apart-                                                                                                          yet, and he arguably might
                                                                                               to developer Bruce Ratner, who wants           ness associate. The men leveled a spec-                                                      GAMES
next year. “There is nothing in this docu-      ments throughout New Jersey. The                                                                                                               not even be that wounded.
                                                                                               to move the team to Brooklyn.                  trum of accusations, saying that Kushn-
ment today that has anything to do with         Kushner Cos. Real Estate Group, head-                                                                                                          This is the state, after all,
                                                quartered in Florham Park, provides a          Political activity                             er had reneged on a business deal and
Jim McGreevey.”                                                                                                                               leveling sweeping charges of financial           where people have been reelected while
                                                full range of specialized services, includ-    ä Between 1997 and 2002, Kushner, his
    The governor, for his part, released this                                                                                                 malfeasance inside Kushner's firms. In-          awaiting sentencing for corruption, so voters
statement: “We are saddened to hear of          ing property and land acquisition, new         family, and his business partners gave                                                          don’t always get excited about mumble words
                                                construction, sales and marketing, com-        more than $3.1 million to federal, state,      cluded were accusations that Kushner
the allegations. It would be inappropriate,                                                                                                   had deliberately violated election laws to       like “allegation,” especially when they’re
however, to comment further on matters          mercial and industrial leasing, and ac-        and local politicians and political com-                                                        aimed at somebody close to the official rather
                                                counting, financial, and legal services.       mittees that supported them, according         exceed the amount of money he could
unrelated to this office.”                                                                                                                    legally donate.                                  than the official himself.
    Kushner surrendered to federal agents       The firm also manages office buildings,        to an investigation conducted by The                                                               And despite all the headlines, no one has
                                                shopping centers, and industrial com-          Record. The bulk of the money has ben-         ä In February 2002, McGreevey nomi-
Tuesday morning and later appeared at                                                                                                                                                          accused McGreevey of anything except being
a brief hearing before Magistrate Ronald        plexes.                                        efited New Jersey's and New York's             nated Kushner to a six-year term on the          caught on a bug using a code word in a con-
J. Hedges in U.S. District Court in             ä NorCrown Bank, based in Livingston,          most powerful and influential politicians,     Port Authority of New York and New               versation with a guy who refers to contribu-
Newark. Wearing a blue-and-white                has a dozen retail branches in North Jer-      men and women who play important               Jersey, and intended him to be the next          tions as “trailers of mulch,” and nominating a
checked shirt and dark gray pants, Kush-        sey.                                           roles in deciding how the region devel-        head of the $4.5 billion agency. Kushner         guy like Kushner to run the Port Authority
ner stood handcuffed at the wrists and          ä Statfeld Vantage Insurance/Highview          ops. Kushner and his companies have            resigned after the civil lawsuit was filed.      while the agency was still groping its way
shackled at the ankles. He did not speak.       Planning provides brokerage and con-           given $1.5 million to campaign accounts        ä Last December, the FBI searched the            through the smoke of Sept. 11.
    Kushner posted a $5 million bond se-        sulting services to private and public         that benefited McGreevey since 1997.           home of a former top Kushner execu-                 When Kushner was nominated, the main
cured by his home in Livingston and a           sector entities.                               ä McGreevey and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rod-         tive, as well as the offices of an account-      rap against him was that he was shameless in
beach house in the Elberon section of           ä Westmin Tech builds telephone, cable         ham Clinton of New York have counted           ing firm that has done work for Kushner.         his financial backing for the governor. To
Long Branch, and agreed to wear an elec-        and Internet networks for commercial           Kushner and his companies as their                                     — Mitchel Maddux         some, the complaints sounded like sour
tronic bracelet, surrender his passport,                                                                                                                                                       grapes from people who wished they had a
and stay in New Jersey. His wife, Seryl,                                                                                                                                                       sugar daddy like that.
joined Kushner after a brief hearing and        lating a federal campaign-finance law that     stalled a hidden video camera to tape          viser. Golan Cipel was forced to resign             Not only did Kushner’s contributions from
gave him a perfunctory pat on the back.         limits annual contributions by one donor       their sexual encounter, according to the       the post after it was reported that he had       numerous real estate holdings make a mock-
    Benjamin Brafman, Kushner’s lawyer,         to a total of $25,000. The settlement does     complaint.                                     no credentials as an anti-terror expert and      ery of laws intended to limit how much a sin-
who has represented Michael Jackson             not affect whether he can be charged              Later that day, one of the intermedi-       could not even obtain security clearance         gle contributor could give, he also played
and Sean Combs, said after the hearing          criminally with federal campaign finance       aries brought the tape to Kushner at his       to discuss classified intelligence.              benefactor to those working to get Mc-
that his client would plead not guilty.         violations.                                    office, where he watched it with an asso-         Court papers that came to light last          Greevey elected governor.
    “Charles Kushner is one of the most            Kushner has been a flash point for al-      ciate and “expressed satisfaction,” the        year showed Kushner had extensive busi-             Kushner sponsored a temporary work visa
successful, well-respected business lead-       leged misdeeds and controversies that          complaint said. Kushner then asked that        ness dealings with McGreevey’s chief of          for Golan Cipel, the former Israeli sailor who
ers in America and one of the greatest          have dogged McGreevey since he took            copies and still photos be made of the         staff, Gary Taffet, at the same time both        advised McGreevey on terrorism and helped
philanthropists of this century,” said Braf-    office as governor. The developer also has     tape and that the woman’s face be pixeled      men were raising money for the governor.         the Irish Catholic candidate appeal to the
man, who is based in Manhattan. “The            been the benefactor of several controver-      out, it said.                                  Kushner paid Taffet more than $4 million         Jewish vote. Court papers also say that Kush-
charges in this case are entirely baseless.     sial McGreevey aides, some of whom                In mid-December, Kushner decided to         for his year-old Middlesex County insur-         ner paid $2.4 million to buy an insurance firm
When this matter is resolved in court,          emerged as subjects of federal probes          carry out the same scheme with another         ance company, which had few clients.             started by longtime McGreeveyite Gary Taffet.
he’ll be completely exonerated.”                themselves.                                    witness in the federal investigation, the         After buying Taffet’s company, Kush-          After selling the firm, Taffet went back to
    Now that the complaint is filed, a             In 2002, it was revealed that Kushner       complaint said. That witness was identi-       ner gave Taffet a high-paying job as its         work for McGreevey, was co-chairman of the
grand jury has 30 days to indict Kushn-         had sponsored the work visa of an Israeli      fied Tuesday as Yontef, the former chief       president.                                       2001 campaign, and then became the gover-
er.                                             public relations man and political opera-      bookkeeper of Kushner Cos.                        In addition to those probes, federal          nor’s chief of staff.
    Federal prosecutors made it clear that      tive whom McGreevey named as his                  Theodore Moskowitz, Yontef’s attor-         and state investigators are examining al-           Taffet only lasted a year in that job, howev-
the charges against Kushner grew only re-       $110,000-a-year Homeland Security ad-          ney, said his client wanted the public to      legations that former cabdriver Rajesh           er, and a federal investigation may be continu-
cently out of a much larger probe into the      viser. Golan Cipel was forced to resign        know that he was not taken in by Kush-         “Roger” Chugh used intimidation and il-          ing into billboard business deals arranged by
developer’s business activities and cam-        the post after it was reported that he had     ner’s alleged blackmail scheme and nev-        lusory promises of patronage jobs to se-         him and Paul Levinsohn, McGreevey’s 2001
paign contributions. A grand jury contin-       no credentials as an anti-terror expert and    er had relations with prostitutes working      cure nearly $1 million in contributions to       finance chairman and later chief counsel. Also
ues to hear evidence on the larger probe,       could not even get security clearance to       with the developer.                            McGreevey and the Democratic cam-                on the McGreevey fund-raising team was
which deals in part with Kushner’s al-          discuss classified intelligence.                  “My client was not seduced by any call      paign committees that supported his gu-          Roger Chugh, whose activities as Mc-
leged defrauding of family and business            Court papers that came to light last        girls sent by Charlie Kushner,”                bernatorial bid.                                 Greevey’s man in the Little India section of
partners as well as millions of dollars in      year showed Kushner had extensive busi-        Moskowitz said. “Others were not as for-          The charges Tuesday raised eyebrows           Woodbridge and Edison are also believed to
contributions to McGreevey and others.          ness dealings with McGreevey’s chief of        tunate.”                                       on both sides of the political aisle, as De-     be under investigation.
                                                staff, Gary Taffet, at the same time both         Indeed, according to the complaint,         mocrats and Republicans in New Jersey               Taffet and Levinsohn and Chugh all could
Allegations of blackmail                        men were raising money for the governor.       the prostitute was unable to lure Yontef       assessed the meaning.                            be future land mines on the road to 2005, and
    Kushner is charged with retaliation         Kushner paid Taffet more than $4 million       into her room after hitching a ride back          Democrats treaded cautiously and              those blasts could reach closer to the gover-
against a witness and obstruction of jus-       for his year-old Middlesex County insur-       to her motel with him. Still, the woman        stopped short of backing Kushner, who            nor than the racy allegations against Kushner
tice. Each carries a maximum penalty of         ance company, which had few clients.           was paid $2,000 for her efforts, and the       has been not only McGreevey’s most gen-          and the spy-novel intrigue surrounding mulch
10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.            After buying Taffet’s company, Kushn-       intermediaries split the remaining             erous donor, but a good friend to those          dealer David D’Amiano.
He also is charged with conspiracy to           er gave Taffet a high-paying job as its        $10,000, the complaint went on.                close to the governor.                              Party bosses so far are content to sit and
promote an interstate act of prostitution,      president.                                                                                       “If this is true, I am astounded at the       wait, because they know there’s no real rush.
which carries a maximum penalty of five            In addition to those probes, federal        A family affair                                arrogance, along with the stupidity,” said       The last-minute withdrawal by Sen. Robert
years in prison and a $250,000 fine.            and state investigators are examining al-         Yontef, of West Orange, worked for          Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg, D-               Torricelli from the 2002 campaign proved
    Joseph Billy Jr., special agent in charge   legations that former cabdriver Rajesh         Kushner between February 1999 and No-          Teaneck. “I just wish folks like this did-       that with the right replacement, candidates
of the FBI’s Newark office, called Kush-        “Roger” Chugh used intimidation and il-        vember 2002. Kushner fired him in June         n’t get involved with our political life. It’s   can be switched as late as two months before
ner’s alleged actions “one of the lowest        lusory promises of patronage jobs to se-       2002 after learning that he had informed       very disconcerting for those of us who are       Election Day.
forms of blackmail.”                            cure nearly $1 million in contributions to     family members of the developer’s alleged      involved with issues important to the               But some are starting to worry Mc-
    The events in the criminal complaint,       McGreevey and the Democratic cam-              manipulation of company profits, ac-           working people we represent.”                    Greevey’s problems could drag down a party
if true, describe how Kushner’s obsession       paign committees that supported his suc-       cording to court papers.                          Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., joined with         that has made big gains recently. Not only did
with raising money for his favorite politi-     cessful gubernatorial bid.                        The suit, which was similar to others       Kushner last November as one of four             the McGreevey soft money in 2001 help cap-
cians helped to drive apart a family whose                                                     brought by Kushner’s brother, Murray, al-      bidders attempting to buy the New Jersey         ture the Assembly and half the Senate, De-
members are among New Jersey’s most             Help wanted: a call girl                       leged that Kushner was defrauding his          Nets. Kushner’s group and one led by real        mocrats since then have expanded their con-
powerful landlords and public develop-             Federal agents said Tuesday that Kush-      family and business partners by diverting      estate developer Bruce Ratner — the              trol of the Legislature and seized county gov-
ers.                                            ner began scheming to have prostitutes         company profits to make political dona-        eventual winner — became the two final-          ernments in Essex, Bergen, and Mercer coun-
    Lawsuits filed against Kushner by his       seduce the witnesses in August 2003. The       tions. Kushner recently made an out-of-        ists when each offered $300 million for          ties.
brother, Murray, and former company             complaint alleges Kushner paid $25,000         court settlement on those suits.               the basketball team.                                Despite the worries, no one seems ready to
executives in 2003 claimed the developer        to two intermediaries — identified by             After the failed attempt to tape Yontef        “The senator feels that if the facts turn     talk openly about getting rid of McGreevey.
engineered a vast scheme to defraud his         sources Tuesday as a private investigator      with a prostitute, Kushner waited until        out as charged, he’ll be extremely disap-           “I think people are starting to think it, but
real estate partners and funnel company         and a police officer — to hire a prostitute    May 10 for one of his intermediaries to        pointed,” said Corzine spokesman David           no one wants to say it, because if they say it, it
profits to politicians.                         to seduce Schulder to “cause problems          drive to upstate New York and mail the         Wald. “Beyond that, he has no com-               will get out that they said it and then everyone
    Through intermediaries, Kushner has         and personal difficulties.”                    tape and still photos to the Schulders in      ment.”                                           will say, ‘Did you see what he said?’ ” said
claimed that his brother and other sib-            But when the intermediaries were un-        Essex County, the complaint said. The             Meanwhile, Republicans continued              one Democrat, who for the aforementioned
lings were jealous of his success and his       able to find a willing prostitute, Kushner     original plan had been to mail the mate-       their attack on McGreevey’s fund-raising         reasons did not want his name used.
ambitions to become, as he once boasted,        personally headed to New York City in          rial from Canada.                              practices.                                          “The reality is,” he continued, “if the polling
“one of the nation’s largest owners.”           November to recruit a call girl, the com-         Two days earlier, a federal grand jury         “It is time that the Democrats come           doesn’t dip, it doesn’t matter.”
    Between 1997 and 2002, Kushner, his         plaint said. Kushner told the woman that       had sent letters to potential targets of its   clean and return the hundreds of thou-              It is possible that bad news about Mc-
family, and business partners gave more         he would pay her $7,000 to $10,000 to          investigation. On Tuesday, Christie, the       sands of dollars in illegal contributions        Greevey is just more static on a channel that
than $3.1 million to federal, state, and lo-    have sex with Schulder on tape so that         U.S. attorney, refused to say whether          they received from Charles Kushner and           the public stopped listening to long ago.
cal politicians and political committees        “he could have leverage,” the complaint        Kushner had received a letter or how he        David D’Amiano that have greatly aided              The administration’s official position Tues-
that supported them, an investigation by        said.                                          knew they were mailed.                         Jim McGreevey and the Democrats in re-           day was that the Kushner allegations were
The Record found. Kushner and his com-             On Dec. 3, the call girl met with the in-      Kushner also wanted to send the tape        cent years,” said state Sen. Joseph Kyril-       “unrelated to this office” so therefore Mc-
panies have given $1.5 million to cam-          termediaries at a Bridgewater motel,           to the couple’s children, the complaint        los, chairman of the New Jersey Repub-           Greevey doesn’t have to comment on them.
paign accounts benefiting McGreevey             where she was told to pretend that her         said, but one of the intermediaries talked     lican State Committee.                           Anonymously, loyalists said New Jersey voters
since 1997, while at the same time em-          car had broken down and ask Schulder           him out of it. The children’s ages were not       Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole, R-Cedar            will ignore a lot if they think a politician is
ploying some of the governor’s closest          for a ride back to the motel, the complaint    known.                                         Grove, said that at some point, the public       working hard for them, and they may have
aides.                                          said. But the woman failed to meet up             A few days later, the Schulders opened      will hold McGreevey accountable for the          data to support that view.
    McGreevey named Kushner to the              with Schulder.                                 the envelope, discovered the tape and          activities of those with whom he has sur-           After the unprecedented FBI raid on De-
Port Authority of New York and New                 The woman returned the next day, this       photos, and turned them over to federal        rounded himself.                                 mocratic State Committee headquarters in
Jersey in 2002, and made clear that he          time approaching Schulder at a diner in        agents, the complaint said.                       “I think it’s potentially fatal,” said        March, newspapers were filled with stories
would be made chairman. But in Febru-           Somerville where one of the intermedi-                                                        O’Toole, the Essex County Republican             about D’Amiano and what sources said the
ary 2003, Kushner’s mounting legal prob-        aries had followed him. There, she gave        The talk of Trenton                            chairman. “This is the individual Gover-         government was looking at, although no one
lems forced him to resign before he could       him the rehearsed story about needing a           Kushner has been a flash point for al-      nor McGreevey selected for probably              mentioned code words.
ascend to the top spot.                         ride, the complaint said.                      leged misdeeds and controversies that          the single most important appointment               And during that time, McGreevey’s poll
    Late last month, Kushner settled a             A source said the two met at the Time       have dogged the governor since he took         he has, head of the Port Authority. It           numbers went up. Of course, McGreevey was
long-running Federal Election Commis-           to Eat diner and drove to the Red Bull         office. The developer also has been the        goes right to defining who Governor              also running millions of dollars of publicly
sion investigation into federal campaign        Inn on Route 22 in Bridgewater.                benefactor of several controversial Mc-        McGreevey is and the company he                  funded advertising on television during that
contributions. A divided FEC board ap-             Schulder drove the prostitute back to       Greevey aides, some of whom emerged            keeps.                                           time. He also outlined a plan to raise income
proved a negotiated deal in which Kush-         the motel but resisted going into her          as subjects of federal probes themselves.                                                       taxes on the wealthy so most homeowners
ner agreed to pay a $508,900 penalty, the       room; instead, they exchanged phone               In 2002, it was revealed that Kushner       Staff Writers Mitchel Maddux, Herb Jack-         and senior citizens could get bigger rebate
fourth-largest civil sanction imposed by        numbers, the complaint said.                   had sponsored the work visa of an Israeli      son, Mary Jo Layton, Josh Gohlke, and            checks.
the FEC since 1980.                                The two spoke Dec. 5, and Schulder          public relations man and political opera-      John Brennan contributed to this article. E-        If that’s what it takes to boost poll ratings,
    Kushner attributed the problems to          then came to the woman’s hotel room,           tive whom McGreevey named as his               mail: kleina@northjersey.com, riley@north-       just imagine how big the rebates will be next
“clerical errors” but acknowledged vio-         where one of the intermediaries had in-        $110,000-a-year Homeland Security ad-          jersey.com, and pillets@northjersey.com          year when McGreevey’s name is on the ballot.
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                          THE RECORD 35




               F R I E N D    O F      T H E     P E O P L E            I T      S E R V E S
                                www.northjersey.com




                              Published Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004




                         A        S P E C I A L                           R E P O R T


               Under the influence:
                 Money in Trenton
                     Special interests’ shower of campaign cash
                     bolsters their power to win legislative favors
                                                           First of seven parts
                       By HERB JACKSON and BENJAMIN LESSER
                       STAFF WRITERS

                         Plumbers, electricians, and carpenters unions gave a cool $1.8 million to legislative
                       candidates elected in 2003, just a year after organized labor received a virtual monop-
                       oly over the state’s multibillion-dollar school construction program.
                         Real estate and construction companies donated $9.3 million while they prodded
                       lawmakers to ditch proposed limits on suburban sprawl and extend the program that
                       funds more than $1 billion in transportation projects each year.
                         And as legislators worked to mandate stricter “California car” emission standards,
                       auto dealers doubled their contributions to more than $438,000.
                                                  Overall, last year’s election for 120   summer in a spending cap bill. The
                                               seats in the Legislature was the most      change will likely allow school districts
                                               expensive in New Jersey history, with      to spend tens of millions of dollars
                                               almost $56 million going to the win-       more for teachers’ salaries in coming
                                               ning candidates alone. And much of         years than they would have otherwise
                                               that money came from groups with a         been allowed to spend.
                                               financial stake in legislation — groups       To determine which donors gave the
                                               that were trying to win special treat-     most to the current Legislature, The
                                               ment on legislation, reward friends for    Record analyzed more than 33,000
                                               past favors, or bottle up or water down    contributions made in 2002 and 2003
                                               initiatives that would hurt them.          to last year’s winning candidates and to
                                                  For some, the stakes were massive.      the major PACs that supported them.
                                               The state’s largest teachers union,           The Record also reviewed recent
                                               which gave at least $411,000 and           legislative history and conducted
                                               wields enormous clout through an ef-       dozens of interviews to ascertain what
                                               fective political organization, got the    donors got for their money, the role
                                               word “less” changed to “greater” this              See CONTRIBUTIONS Page 36
36 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                        JANUARY 2005


                                                                                            Published Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004




                                                                                                                                                                                                         STAFF PHOTOS BY CHRIS PEDOTA
During end-of-session marathons when lawmakers may pass as many as 100 bills a day, contributors frequently gain favors. Big donors often win concessions or consolation prizes even when they lose battles.




                    Contributions deliver clout
From Page 35                                                                                                                                                                                       D-West New York, and Assembly
contributions play in making New                                                                                                                                                                   Majority Leader Joseph Roberts,
Jersey’s laws, and the state of cam-                                                                                                                                                               D-Camden, argued their record of
paign contribution laws. The                                                                                                                                                                       approving bills that special inter-
analysis found:                                                                                                                                                                                    ests opposed proves that money
   ä Seven of the top 10 donors                                                                                                                                                                    does not hold sway in Trenton.
were labor unions representing                                                                                                                                                                        “We reined in telemarketers
public employees or building                                                                                                                                                                       and predatory lenders, and dealt
trades. Those seven unions’ con-                                                                                                                                                                   with requiring childproof hand-
tributions totaled nearly $4 mil-                                                                                                                                                                  guns and clean-car legislation.
lion, and organized labor overall                                                                                                                                                                  The moneyed interests, if you will,
gave $5.6 million to legislators on                                                                                                                                                                were all on the other side of those
both sides of the political aisle.                                                                                                                                                                 issues,” Roberts said.
Both parties have shown they will                                                                                                                                                                     Lobbyist John Torok, whose
eagerly vote for union initiatives,                                                                                                                                                                clients include the state’s op-
even if they ultimately cost tax-                                                                                                                                                                  tometrist association, which
payers more money.                                                                                                                                                                                 ranked 18th highest among all
   ä Big donors often win conces-                                                                                                                                                                  donors, said the most that contri-
sions or consolation prizes even                                                                                                                                                                   butions will get is a legislator’s at-
when they have been trumped on                                                                                                                                                                     tention.
some high-profile bills by grass-                                                                                                                                                                     “It’s not as simple as saying if I
roots pressure or public opinion.                                                                                                                                                                  [raise] $100,000, somebody will
For example, developers and con-                                                                                                                                                                   do this bill for me,” Torok said. “I
struction companies — which,                                                                                                                                                                       wish it were that simple.”
combined, gave more than any                                                                                                                                                                          But others say money gets
other industry — could not block                                                                                                                                                                   more than lobbyists and leaders
passage in June of a law preserv-                                                                                                                                                                  admit to.
ing a vast portion of the High-                                                                                                                                                                       “I don’t think every special in-
lands in northwestern New Jersey.                                                                                                                                                                  terest gets what it wants, but most
But the following week, the Leg-                                                                                                                                                                   of the time you have corporations
islature voted to accelerate con-                                                                                                                                                                  fighting other corporations,” said
sideration of projects in “smart                                                                                                                                                                   Staci Berger, program director for
growth” areas for deep-pockets                                                                                                                                                                     New Jersey Citizen Action, which
developers who could pay higher                                                                                                                                                                    fought for campaign finance re-
fees.                                                                                                                                                                                              form this year and whose direc-
   ä It can be costly to bet big on                                                                                                                                                                tors include labor unions, tenants
one party if that party loses, espe-                                                                                                                                                               organizations, and community
cially if opposing interests are also                                                                                                                                                              groups.
spreading money around. This                                                                                                                                                                          “What it buys you is the ability
was demonstrated in the battle           In legislators’ behind-the-scenes haggling over the fine print of complicated laws, special interests’ wishes are influential, critics say.               to have your idea floated in the
over medical malpractice reform,                                                                                                                                                                   first place, or the ability to stop
when the Medical Society of New          campaign finance laws is scat-             ä As campaign spending has          amount of money in campaigns is           “I don’t know of anybody         things from happening,” Berger
Jersey’s PAC threw most of its           tered at best, and data available to    mushroomed, so too has the pres-       no accident.                           who’s going to let themselves be    said.
money behind Republican candi-           the public can be so error-riddled      sure to contribute. One lobbyist          “Fund raising and the needs of      bought. That’s pretty demeaning,”      That assessment was essential-
dates and the trial lawyers’ PAC         that its value is questionable. One     said it has reached the point of       campaigns are driving the state’s      said Codey, D-Essex. “If you give   ly     confirmed      by     Donald
backed Democrats. After Democ-           potential reason: Legislators con-      “legalized extortion,” and another     policy,” said former Assemblyman       me a contribution, you get a        DiFrancesco, a Republican who
rats seized outright control of the      trol the enforcement agency’s           said he’s afraid not to give. But a    Matt Ahearn of Fair Lawn, whose        thank-you. That’s it.”              was Senate president for 10 years
State House on Election Day,             budget.                                 third said complaining about con-      one term in the Legislature fea-          Codey said he will meet with     and acting governor in 2001.
both houses passed a version of              ä Decade-old contribution lim-      tributions is like complaining         tured a highly public exit from the    groups he knows are traditional-       “The money’s a psychological
malpractice reform that doctors          its do little to reduce the influence   about the weather; there’s nothing     Democrats to the Green Party in        ly big contributors, but he insists thing,” said DiFrancesco, who left
had condemned as inadequate a            of well-funded special interests,       you can do about it.                   2003.                                  their money does not influence      office in 2002. “In the back of
year earlier.                            and may actually make identifying          ä Despite all the attention giv-       “That was the preeminent            whether he agrees with their        your mind, you know that if
   ä During hectic end-of-session        donors more difficult. That’s be-       en this year to efforts to ban “pay    thing, and any discussion of what      views. Rather, he said, he will tellsomebody’s maxed out [given the
marathons when lawmakers may             cause millions of dollars flow          to play” — the practice of lucrative   you took the job of legislator to do   the interest groups what his posi-  maximum donation], you are go-
pass as many as 100 bills a day,         through state and county commit-        state contracts going to major         was not tolerated. You were rock-      tion is, and let them decide after- ing to defer to them in certain ar-
contributors can often gain all          tees, which can legally accept 10       contributors — reform laws enact-      ing the boat or disrupting the cau-    ward whether to contribute.         eas. But when it comes to policy,
kinds of smaller favors. Funeral         to 15 times as much as candidates       ed in June would affect only a         cus.”                                     “Some of them might say,         if the polling’s against them,
directors, for example, gave more        and then pass along unlimited           small group of donors. Even if a                                              ‘Codey doesn’t agree with us on     there’s no way these organizations
than $180,000 through their PAC          amounts to those candidates. Sen-       stricter law sought by reformers       Money’s role                           these issues, but maybe down the    and their money can overrule
in the 2003 election and last            ate President Richard Codey             had been approved, most of the           Legislative leaders, whose           road there’ll be another issue      public opinion.”
month won passage of a bill ex-          called this “legalized money laun-      biggest donors would have been         broad powers include deciding          where he might,’ so they give a
empting them from a requirement          dering” when Republicans began          unaffected because they don’t get      which bills the Senate and As-         contribution because they want to ‘Money never loses’
that limousine drivers have com-         to do it during the Nineties, but       government contracts.                  sembly may vote on, argue that         have an entree, to build a rap-         But much of what the Legisla-
mercial driver’s licenses.               now Codey manages the state’s              Some say the failure of the lat-    the only thing contributors get for    port.”                               ture does never rises to the pub-
   ä Enforcement of New Jersey’s         third-wealthiest PAC.                   est round of reforms to reduce the     their money is a sympathetic ear.         Assembly Speaker Albio Sires,            See LOBBYISTS Page 38



                                        “If you give me a contribution,                                                                 “The money never loses. Sometimes
                                        you get a thank-you. That’s it.”                                                                it doesn’t win, but it never loses.”
                                          SENATE PRESIDENT RICHARD CODEY, D-ESSEX                                                       FORMER ASSEMBLYMAN MATT AHEARN OF FAIR LAWN
JANUARY 2005                                    THE RECORD 37



               Published Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004
38 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                     JANUARY 2005


                                                                                     Published Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004




                        Lobbyists feel need to give
                                                                       From Page 36
            Liquor taxes                                               lic’s attention, especially behind-
                                                                       the-scenes haggling over the fine
                                                                       print of complicated laws. In these
   At least 24 brewers, distillers, bars, liquor importers, and dis-   settings, critics of the system say,
tributors gave a total of more than $422,000 to last year’s leg-       legislators will try to find ways to
islative winners. Leading the pack was distributor Allied Bev-         maintain the appearance that they
erage Group, at $155,000, and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-               are doing what the public wants
Busch, at $112,000.                                                    while also crafting consolation
   Former Assemblyman Matthew Ahearn of Fair Lawn thinks               prizes for well-funded interests.
there’s a connection between those contributions and the fact             “The money never loses,” said
that liquor taxes were not increased this year — even though           Ahearn. “Sometimes it doesn’t
other “sin” taxes on cigarettes and casinos were.                      win, but it never loses.”
   Also playing a role, he argues, is the number of former bar            Consider these examples from
and restaurant owners in the Legislature, including Assembly           the last year:
Majority Leader Joseph Roberts; Democratic State Committee                ä The Laborers Union was the
Vice Chairman and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan; Assembly                   largest single contributor to the
Republican Conference Leader Guy Gregg; and former As-                 2003 election, with locals and
sembly Minority Leader Paul DiGaetano.                                 PACs accounting for more than
   Ahearn, whose disagreements with Democratic leaders led             $750,000. Afterward, the union ag-
him to switch to the Green Party last year, remembers asking           gressively supported an increase in
during a closed Democratic caucus why a liquor tax increase            the state’s gas tax because trans-
was not on the table.                                                  portation officials said it was need-
   After the caucus ended, he said, Roberts followed him out.          ed to continue funding the $1.2
   “He said if I have questions about things like that I should        billion the state spends annually
bring them to him in person, not raise it in the caucus,” said         on highway and transit projects.
Ahearn, who lost his reelection bid in 2003. “Then he said he          Also lined up behind the tax were
and Speaker [Albio] Sires wanted to sponsor a fund-raiser for          construction companies, engineer-
me.”                                                                   ing firms, and trade associations,
   Roberts flatly denied that happened and suggested Ahearn            which, combined, gave $1.5 mil-
made it up.                                                            lion. But Republicans took a par-
   Party leaders say the main reason liquor taxes stayed put has       ty-line position against the in-
nothing to do with campaign contributions. Rather, they say,           crease and effectively killed it.
more people drink than smoke, so such a tax would be more                 Still, the donors did not lose out
politically damaging.                                                  completely. After abandoning the
                                                                       gas tax, the McGreevey adminis-
                                                                       tration announced a complicated

     School spending                                                   and unprecedented plan to borrow
                                                                       money against the promise of fu-
                                                                       ture federal funds so that the $1.2
                                                                       billion in annual projects could
   Children in elementary school learn the difference between          continue.
those angled symbols that designate “less than” and “greater              ä Passage of a bill to preserve
than.”                                                                 the Highlands, a swath of pristine
   The Legislature got a refresher course in June, when it took        land that protects half the state’s
up a bill sought by Governor McGreevey that put a 2.5 per-             drinking water, was a blow to real
cent cap on school spending increases.                                 estate developers and construction
   The bill was opposed by the state’s largest teachers union,         companies — the biggest sector of
the New Jersey Education Association, which was also the               donors, who, combined, con-
10th-highest contributor to winning candidates in the 2003             tribute about 25 cents out of every
election with more than $411,000.                                      campaign dollar. But a week later,
   During the 10 days it took for the bill to go from introduc-        a second bill that was a boon to
tion to passage, the word “less” in several sections was               big-time       developers      sailed
changed to “greater.” As a result, schools will be able to in-         through: If you pay steeper fees,
crease spending in the future by 2.5 percent or the rate of infla-     the state will speed up considera-
tion, whichever is greater, a difference that could let districts      tion of environmental permits for
spend many millions more each year on teachers’ raises.                projects outside the Highlands.
   The NJEA is still unhappy about the bill, but one Assembly             The developers who can afford
Democrat said party members were told in caucus that the               those higher fees are likely the
union “was OK” with lawmakers voting for it because of the             same ones who can afford large
word change — and because of the promise of further “tweaks”           campaign contributions.
to the cap later this year.                                               ä The auto dealers’ PAC ranked                                                                                        CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
                                                                       ninth among all donors with con-
                                                                       tributions of more than $438,000          “It’s not as simple as saying if I [raise] $100,000, somebody will do
                  Lawyers                                              while they were trying to kill a bill
                                                                       mandating stricter “California car”
                                                                       emissions standards. They lost the
                                                                                                                 this bill for me. I wish it were that simple.”
                                                                                                                 LOBBYIST JOHN TOROK, LEFT, WHOSE CLIENTS INCLUDE THE STATE OPTOMETRISTS ASSOCIATION, SHOWN
                                                                       battle to environmentalists’ pres-        TALKING WITH SEN. JOSEPH CONIGLIO, D-PARAMUS
    There are plenty of reasons why lawyers and law firms put          sure, but may still win the war: The
roughly $4 million behind winning legislative candidates and           final draft of the bill added a study
committees in 2003.                                                    committee that could recommend              Told of Marcus’ experience, the tools and skills you use to do              ees. The bill passed with minimal
    Some do extensive work as government bond counsels or              scrapping the standards just 18          U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie your job,” said James Appleton,             debate and almost no dissent, at a
municipal attorneys, and figure prominently on any list of             months after they take effect. The       said the legislator probably president of the Coalition of Auto                cost of $5.2 billion to taxpayers
payers in the game of “pay to play.” Some specialize in acci-          committee can also recommend             stopped short of committing a Retailers. “The Legislature’s look-              over time.
dent and malpractice suits and want to protect plaintiffs’ rights      public subsidies to car dealers if       crime.                                 ing for support, and we want to see         A Treasury Department analysis
to sue.                                                                low-emission vehicles don’t sell.           “I couldn’t tell you off the bat if good legislation enacted. I tell my     said there were enough assets in
    But other law firms are built around representing govern-             “I don’t know at end of the day       it was illegal, but I know it was members it’s not just an option, it’s        the pension system to pay for the
ment agencies themselves, and they are major contributors to           whether it is a bill with teeth in it    wrong,” Christie said. “In a larger your responsibility as an active           pension increase, but that analysis
officials who have the power to hire them.                             or not,” said Assemblyman Reed           sense, it displays the atmosphere in member in the business communi-           was based on top-of-the-bubble
    Topping the list of such contributors in 2003 was more than        Gusciora, D-Mercer.                      which we are operating. … Going ty to participate in democracy.”               2000 stock prices. Since the stock
$400,000 from Marlton-based Parker, McCay & Criscuolo. Its                                                      so close to the line sometimes                                                 market fell a year later, the state
chief executive officer, Philip A. Norcross, is the brother of         ‘An unspoken law’                        leads people to cross the line.”       Labor clout                             has not been able to keep up pay-
George Norcross, a South Jersey Democratic power broker,                  Veterans of legislative wars say         Christie explained that it is ille-    Tracking campaign contribu-          ments into the pension system.
and of Donald Norcross, head of the South Jersey AFL-CIO.              that as campaign spending has            gal to demand a contribution in tions can be like determining                      “If I looked on unions as a cash
    Coming in second was the $330,000 given by the Teaneck-            mushroomed, the demand for con-          exchange for an official action, or whether the chicken or the egg             cow, then shame on me,” said As-
based firm headed by brothers Al DeCotiis, a member of the             tributions has gotten more intense       to threaten to take or withhold came first. Contributors say they’re           semblyman Joseph Malone, R-
Democratic National Committee, and M. Robert DeCotiis,                 — and solicitations are inching          such an action if a contribution is not buying favors, they’re reward-         Burlington, who received about 29
who was chief counsel to former Gov. Jim Florio. Bob DeCoti-           closer and closer to the line be-        not received. It is also illegal for a ing past support. And legislators       percent of his reported contribu-
is’ son, Michael DeCotiis, is chief counsel to Governor Mc-            tween the legitimate and the ille-       contributor to give money with the say they’re not being bought,               tions in 2003 from labor. “But I do
Greevey.                                                               gal.                                     expectation that an official action they’re doing what’s right for their       what’s right based on my own im-
    The firm of Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph                  “There’s never any [threat], ‘If      will be taken in ex-                              constituents: It’s just a    pressions and experience, and
Ferriero, Secaucus-based Scarinci & Hollenbeck, donated                you don’t do this, we’ll do this.’       change for the money.                             happy coincidence if         based on what I think my con-
about $65,000. The firm of Burlington County Republican                But it’s definitely an unspoken law      But he said proving such    “I’ve found           contributors also want       stituents are interested in. And if it
Chairman Glenn Paulsen, Mount Laurel-based Capehart &                  down here these days that you            cases often requires one    that fund             the same thing.              offends people in my party, so be
Scatchard, gave $66,000.                                               have to contribute if you want to        participant      in     the                          But among the hun-        it.”
    A bill designed to limit “pay to play,” enacted in June, will      accomplish things,” said one lob-        scheme to be cooperat-      raising has           dreds of bills passed            Malone said his support for
curtail some of these firms’ contributions. The bill’s general         byist, who asked for anonymity to        ing and possibly wearing                          each year, there are al-     unions comes from his experience
premise was to block no-bid contracts for businesses that gave         protect his job and his clients.         a secret recording de-      become                ways some that provide       with apprenticeship programs at
more than $17,500 to officials with the power to award the                “It’s almost like an insurance        vice.                       legalized             specific benefits to spe-    the county college where he
contracts. And state laws allow the hiring of professionals such       policy. There’s this sense that if the      Legislative leaders de-                        cific groups, and more       works.
as lawyers, engineers, and accountants without bidding.                day comes that you do need help,         nied that the solicitation  extortion.”           often than not those             “By and large, union-trained
    But that doesn’t mean all law firm contributions will be           you might not be able to get it if       Marcus described was SECAUCUS                     groups are labor unions      guys tend to perform better overall
barred by the “pay-to-play” ban. That’s because many of those          you don’t contribute.”                   common for legislators.                           that are also major cam-     than non-union guys,” Malone
contributions come primarily from individual lawyers and their            Secaucus lobbyist Alan Marcus         Codey, the Senate pres- LOBBYIST ALAN             paign contributors.          said.
spouses — not the firms themselves — and unless a lawyer con-          said it is not unusual for a legisla-    ident,         questioned MARCUS                     “When you talk about          Democratic leaders say they
trols more than 10 percent of the firm’s profits, his or her do-       tor to refer businesses or interest      whether the story was                             special interest legisla-    support unions because they are a
nations still are permitted.                                           groups to specific lobbyists, and        true because Marcus did                           tion, the unions stick out   core constituency, not because
    Another group of donors within the legal profession are            then expect the lobbyists to organ-      not identify the caller. Marcus like a sore thumb,” said Assembly-             they are financial backers.
those with extensive lobbying operations. Roseland-based               ize fund-raisers for the legislator.     named several legislators he man Richard Merkt, R-Morris.                          “It’s what we grew up with, sup-
Lowenstein Sandler, which has an affiliated lobbying firm              Lawmakers will also drop not-too-        thought it might have been, but “They are omnipresent and om-                  porting unions,” said Sires, the As-
called Issues Management — with more than $2 million in                subtle hints about why donations         said he didn’t write down the nipotent in Trenton and control a                sembly speaker.
billings last year — gave nearly $270,000 in the 2003 election.        would be in a lobbyist’s best inter-     caller’s name.                         huge amount of what goes on                 Building-trade unions’ biggest
Morristown-based Riker Danzig, which had $1.3 million in               ests.                                       Sires, the Assembly speaker, there.”                                        triumphs lately have come
lobbying receipts last year, contributed $186,400.                        Marcus described a call he re-        said lobbyists complained about           Overall, labor gave at least $5.6    through expansion and tougher
    Mary Kathryn Roberts, a Riker Danzig attorney and lobby-           ceived this year from a freshman         having to make campaign contri- million to winning candidates and              enforcement of “prevailing wage”
ist, helped teach a seminar on lobbying sponsored by the state         Democrat who had been in office          butions when Republicans were in top committees last year, with                laws, which require all contractors
bar association in December 2002. According to a text of her           just a few months.                       power as much as they complain unions representing laborers,                   who get public contracts to pay
remarks, attendees were warned to remember that the legal                 “He asked me to take part in his      now. Roberts, the majority leader, plumbers, electrical workers, state         wages equal to what unionized
profession has a written ethics code while lobbying does not.          upcoming fund-raiser, and when I         said some lobbyists might lose a workers, carpenters, police, and              contractors pay organized labor.
    She also noted that “after becoming involved in lobbying,          asked him, ‘Why should I con-            battle on the merits and then tell a teachers all ranking in the top 10        Unions support these laws be-
you will come to recognize the level to which political fund-          tribute? I don’t even know you,’ he      client it was because of money giv- of contributors.                           cause they take away any incen-
raisers are part of the role of maintaining important govern-          started naming clients he figured        en by the other side.                     Both parties have a history of       tive for contractors to spurn union
ment and political relationships.”                                     would probably be appearing be-             Other lobbyists said that while supporting laws sought by unions            labor.
                                                                       fore committees on which he              legislators are asking for more — even if they end up costing tax-                 A bill passed during the final
                                                                       would be serving,” said Marcus, a        money these days — $500- and payers more — because of unions’                  lame-duck week of the 2002-03
                                                                       Republican who was once execu-           $1,000-a-plate fund-raisers are financial resources and their abil-            session unveiled criminal penalties
                                                                       tive director of the Assembly staff.     more common, whereas just a few ity to provide volunteers and votes            for prevailing wage violations, and
                                                                       “When I told him he was being            years ago they were the sign of a on Election Day.                             two bills passed during a marathon
                                                                       pretty blatant and someone might         veteran legislator with clout — the       Republicans hoped — in vain, it      budget session in June expanded
                                                                       take what he said the wrong way,         process of solicitation and the turned out — that union support                the wage law’s scope.
                                                                       he started backing off.”                 pressure to give is the same as it would help them retain control of               Codey dismissed arguments that
                                                                          “I’ve found that fund raising has     has ever been.                         the Legislature in 2001 when they       taxpayers are unfairly burdened by
                                                                       become legalized extortion,” said           “I don’t feel any more pressured boosted monthly pension pay-               such laws, which critics say essen-
                                                                       Marcus, who said he couldn’t re-         to give than a carpenter feels pres- ments by 9 percent for 475,000            tially require the use of union labor
                                                                       member the legislator’s name.            sured to hammer a nail. It’s one of current and retired public employ-                       See UNIONS Page 39
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                     THE RECORD 39


                                                                                          Published Sunday, Aug. 8, 2004




                          Unions give big, win laws
From Page 38
on public construction work.
   “When you use union people,
                                                                                                                                                                         Billboard taxes
you get the job done quicker, and
that worker is more likely to have                                                                                                                                   Governor McGreevey raised more than state revenues
health benefits,” Codey said.                                                                                                                                     when he signed a bill that was expected to increase fees on
“Somebody who doesn’t [have                                                                                                                                       billboard companies by $24 million. He also raised campaign
benefits], if they end up in the hos-                                                                                                                             contributions – for the opposing Republican Party.
pital, we as a society end up paying                                                                                                                                 Nine billboard companies contributed $170,000 to winning
their bills.”                                                                                                                                                     candidates in the 2003 election, and 84 percent of that went to
   Unions have given their friends                                                                                                                                Republicans, who had attacked the fees as an unfair attempt to
more than just cash. The president                                                                                                                                get political cover at the expense of a legitimate industry.
of the state AFL-CIO, Charles                                                                                                                                        When McGreevey proposed the increase in early 2003, he’d
Wowkanech, was a surrogate                                                                                                                                        just replaced his first chief of staff, Gary Taffet, and chief coun-
speaker for Governor McGreevey                                                                                                                                    sel, Paul Levinsohn, because of harsh news coverage of the lu-
at labor gatherings during the gov-                                                                                                                               crative deals in the billboard industry the two had made just
ernor’s 2001 campaign and organ-                                                                                                                                  before joining his administration.
ized a massive get-out-the-vote ef-                                                                                                                                  Though two Republicans ultimately provided votes in the
fort. And when Democrats were                                                                                                                                     evenly divided Senate to pass the tax, many others called it
battling business groups over a $1                                                                                                                                outrageous — especially after an outgoing state official said it
billion increase in corporate taxes                                                                                                                               would never raise the expected $24 million because the entire
in 2002, the largest union of state                                                                                                                               billboard industry only generated about $70 million in rev-
employees, the Communications                                                                                                                                     enue.
Workers of America, ran radio                                                                                                                                        The tax ended up raising about $10 million.
commercials supporting the tax                                                                                           CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER             But it also raised a lot of campaign cash.
hike.                                   Legislators have a history of supporting laws sought by unions, because of unions’ financial resources and                   Topping the list of recipients was $87,000 contributed to the
   “Here in New Jersey, I think or-     ability to provide votes on Election Day.                                                                                 Senate Republican Majority committee, which turns out to
ganized labor is one of the largest                                                                                                                               have been a bad investment. Despite the committee’s name,
strategic partners with the Demo-          Egan, the business manager of a      contractor wants to cheat,” he           Pennsylvania, New York, Con-             Senate Republicans fell three seats short of gaining a majority
cratic Party,” Wowkanech told a         North Brunswick electrical work-        said.                                    necticut, or Delaware,” he said.         as Democrats captured 22 of the 40 Senate seats in November.
delegate breakfast at the Democ-        ers local who got $157,000 from            Sweeney and Egan followed up             Critics such as Merkt say the bill       An additional $20,000 was contributed to the Republican
ratic National Convention last          electrical workers unions last year,    this year with two more bills            will drive up the cost of state and      State Committee; $9,200 to Paul DiGaetano, then Assembly
month. “The more members we             was sworn in to his first term in       sought by unions, both of which          local construction projects, which       minority leader; and $8,250 to the Assembly Republican Ma-
take in, chances are the more peo-      2002. That same year, he spon-          passed overwhelmingly during the         ultimately is borne by taxpayers.        jority PAC he controlled last year.
ple you’ll have and we’re going to      sored a bill that business groups       marathon session that began the          But some legislators rationalize            Perhaps it’s coincidence, or perhaps Democrats noticed all
grow bigger and stronger togeth-        called a massive giveaway to con-       afternoon of June 24 and ended           that voters will not likely identify     the money bet on them losing power. Either way, with this
er.”                                    struction unions. It effectively re-    early on the morning of June 25.         those costs, while unions could re-      year’s budget the Legislature renewed the higher billboard fees,
   Unions also have been working        quired all public buildings to be          One bill applied prevailing wage      taliate for a vote against the bill by   which would have expired July 1.
for years to encourage members to       built with union labor, critics said.   requirements to projects funded by       putting money behind an oppo-               On top of that, it repealed a law that had exempted many
run for office, while urging other         The timing was especially sig-       state authorities — even if they’re      nent in the next election, Merkt         billboards from local property taxes.
members to vote for them.               nificant because a 10-year, $6 bil-     built for private hospitals or uni-      said.
   The current chairmen of the As-      lion school construction program        versities. The other said that if pre-      “If you talk to some members of
sembly and Senate labor commit-
tees, Assemblyman Joseph Egan,
D-Middlesex, and Sen. Stephen
                                        had recently begun.
                                           Egan said the bill, authorizing
                                        what are known as “project labor
                                                                                fabricated plumbing or duct work
                                                                                is used in a public building, the
                                                                                prefabrication work must have
                                                                                                                         the Legislature, they would tell you
                                                                                                                         privately the right thing to do
                                                                                                                         would be to vote against a prevail-
                                                                                                                                                                         Mystery donor
Sweeney, D-Gloucester, are both         agreements,” or PLAs, simply put        been done by workers getting the         ing wage bill, but publicly they
officials of construction union lo-     more force behind prevailing wage       prevailing wage.                         can’t risk being seen doing that,”          As The Record attempted to identify donors who gave more
cals. Senate State Government           laws.                                      Both bills received no public at-     said Merkt, who comes from a safe        than $20,000 for this analysis, one mystery was the toughest to
Committee Chairman Joseph                  “If the prevailing wage is to be     tention, but were sought by unions       Republican district and voted            track: A donor who had given 14 contributions totaling
Coniglio, D-Paramus, is a past          paid whether you use a union con-       to protect jobs.                         against the prefab bill.                 $24,500 to legislative candidates and the Democratic State
president and finance chairman of       tractor or not, it shouldn’t matter.       “Say you’re building a jail, and         “I have no problem with help-         Committee.
a Lodi plumbers local.                  The only way PLAs matter is if the      you get a prefabricated cubicle cell     ing working people, but the prob-           The donor was identified alternately as “MAPAC,” “MA-
                                                                                that’s got a sink and toilet already     lem here is the purpose of govern-       PAC 2,” “IMPAC,” or “MOPAC 2.”
                                                                                built in somewhere off-site, you         ment is to purchase goods and               Its Washington post office box was listed on the reports, but
 The staff                                                                      could have somebody making
                                                                                minimum wage making that. My
                                                                                                                         services on the most economical
                                                                                                                         basis, not to grant political favors
                                                                                                                                                                  no other information was provided. Calls confirmed that nei-
                                                                                                                                                                  ther the Massachusetts Association of Problem Animal Con-
 ä Herb Jackson, 42, has cov-           N.Y. While attending the Uni-           contractor can’t compete with            to any group,” he said.                  trollers nor the Mid-Atlantic Personnel Assessment Consor-
 ered New Jersey government             versity of Missouri School of           that,” said Michael Maloney of              Some government reformers             tium was giving campaign money to New Jersey legislators.
 and politics or directed cover-        Journalism, he worked for the           Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 9         such as Harry Pozycki, state chair-         Finally, a Google search on the five digits of the post office
 age as an editor for 15 of the         National Institute for Computer-        in Englishtown, which accounted          man of Common Cause, warn that           box number, 19089, scored a hit on a campaign finance watch-
 past 20 years. A Hudson Coun-          Assisted Reporting. He has              for about half of the $660,000 giv-      as the need to raise contributions       dog group’s Web site. The site posts searchable versions of tax
 ty native and Rutgers University       also taught classes at Colum-           en by plumbers unions in the 2003        continues to grow, the need to           returns filed by groups that give political contributions but are
 graduate, he has worked in the         bia University’s Graduate               race.                                    provide more and more favors also        not required to register as political action committees with the
 Trenton bureau of The Record           School of Journalism.                      Maloney argued that the bills         grows.                                   Federal Election Commission.
 since 1998. Since February             ä Editors: Deirdre Sykes,               were simply good policy and not             “We have a saying in reform cir-         That document provided a full name for the group — the
 2002, he has taken readers be-         Charles Stile                           the result of campaign contribu-         cles,” he said, “that you shouldn’t      Mid-Atlantic Political Action Committee. A search of its tax re-
 hind the scenes in Trenton with        ä Copy editors: Mike Kozma,             tions.                                   be surprised if representatives fi-      turn showed it was founded by officers of the United Food and
 his column, “Capital Games.”           Nancy Cherry                               “We’re not buying anything. If        nanced by private interests re-          Commercial Workers Union in the mid-Atlantic states. The
 ä Benjamin Lesser, 28, has
                                        ä Graphics editor: Jerry Luciani        anything, we’re protecting the tax-      spond to private interests when          UFCW also has a Northeastern PAC in New York, which
 worked on computer-assisted                                                    payers of the state by ensuring the      they get in office.”                     made nine contributions worth $20,000.
                                        ä Designer: Robert Townsend
 projects since coming to The                                                   work will happen in New Jersey,                                                      Other branches of the UFCW, which represents supermar-
 Record in November 2000 from           ä Graphic artist: Bob Rebach            and the people who do the work           E-mail: jackson@northjersey.com and      ket workers, gave $131,000 to winning legislative candidates
 The Times Union of Albany,             ä Photographer: Chris Pedota            will pay taxes in New Jersey, not to     lesser@northjersey.com                   last year.



                                                                                                                                                                                      Gas tax
                                   AN EDITORIAL                                                                                                                      Voters might have been surprised after the 2003 election
                                                                                                                                                                  when a potentially massive increase in the state gas tax started
                                                                                                                                                                  to gain momentum in Trenton.

                               In Trenton, money talks                                                                                                               It certainly wasn’t discussed before the election — in public,
                                                                                                                                                                  that is.
                                                                                                                                                                     But companies and labor unions interested in guaranteeing
                                                                                                                                                                  that the state’s Transportation Trust Fund got a new source of
                                               Big donors wield big influence                                                                                     cash — so that it could continue to support $1.2 billion a year
                                                                                                                                                                  in projects — made sure their presence was known to Gover-
                                                                                                                                                                  nor McGreevey and legislative candidates and committees


I
    N AMERICA, government is sup-                    struction program.                                    ey affects the legislative agenda so much              during the campaign.
    posed to be “of the people, by the                  ä The state’s largest teachers union               of the time is the high cost of campaigns.                Leading the charge were laborers unions, which were the
    people, for the people.” But take a              gave $411,000, and was rewarded with a                And there’s little being done to curtail               No. 1 group of contributors overall in the election at nearly
closer look at how election campaigns                change in language on a spending-cap                  that influence. Because of 10-year-old                 $765,000 in donations. Also on board were the heavy machin-
are funded in New Jersey, and you’ll see             bill that will likely allow districts to              limits on donations to candidates, con-                ery and crane-controlling operating engineers, who gave
                                                                                                                                                                  $182,000.
a state government that’s also for the spe-          spend tens of millions of dollars more on             tributors have been bankrolling state and                 An additional $484,000 came from two top North Jersey
cial interests.                                      teachers’ salaries.                                   county party committees, which can ac-                 highway contractors, Sanzari Cos. and J. Fletcher Creamer &
   The front page of The Record today                   Indeed, a theme of the articles is not             cept from 10 to 20 times larger donations              Son. The Utility and Transportation Contractors Association
kicks off a weeklong investigative series            only how special interests use campaign               — and then pass the largesse along to leg-             gave more than $157,000 through its political action commit-
that documents who is pouring a lion’s               donations to get their way in Trenton, but            islators who vote the party line.                      tee, Constructors for Good Government. Engineering, con-
share of the money into legislative cam-             how legislators use the system to gener-                 In June, the Legislature made a big deal            struction, asphalt, and quarry companies that belong to the
paigns — and how these large contribu-               ate campaign money. One lobbyist told                 about passing a tough new ethics law that              UTCA gave $900,000.
tions often determine Trenton’s agenda               The Record that it’s not unusual for a                purportedly put an end to the unseemly                    All told, that’s more than $2.4 million from contributors
                                                                                                                                                                  hoping to see a gas tax increase, out of nearly $56 million giv-
at the expense of the citizens of New Jer-           lawmaker to steer companies or interest               conflicts of interest and the legalized ex-            en overall to candidates who would go on to win the election.
sey.                                                 groups to certain lobbyists, and then ex-             tortion known as “pay to play,” in which               The expectation was that the Legislature would take up the is-
   As former Assemblyman Matt Ahearn,                pect campaign contributions in ex-                    those who make sizable campaign dona-                  sue during its lame-duck session, when several outgoing mem-
D-Fair Lawn, told Staff Writers Herb                 change.                                               tions are rewarded with government con-                bers could provide votes and spare freshmen the potentially
Jackson and Benjamin Lesser: “Fund                      Legislative leaders deny and decry the             tracts. In fact, as The Record’s articles un-          career-ending chore.
raising and the needs of campaigns are               unsavory connections between cash and                 derscore, the new legislation has more                    But after Republicans lost several key races, the party’s con-
driving state policy.”                               public policy, saying that campaign mon-              loopholes than a basketball net — and has              servative wing was angry and looking for new leadership. And
                                                                                                                                                                  with some potential 2005 gubernatorial candidates seizing on
   For last year’s legislative races, donors         ey at most can get a lawmaker’s attention             scant impact on all the interests who seek             the gas tax as a populist attention-getter, there was a party-line
gave a record-setting $56 million to the             and perhaps access. What’s more, they                 favors rather than government business.                decision not to help the Democrats. The gas tax increase was
winning campaigns. A majority of those               point to several laws they passed that are               What can you do to reduce big mon-                  shelved, and advocates now do not believe it will be back until
donations came from organizations or                 decidedly unfriendly to special interests             ey’s corrosive influence in Trenton? First             after the 2005 election.
people who had a financial interest in               — such as those curbing telemarketers                 of all, you must overcome the common                      Stay tuned for how much in contributions are generated for
major measures under consideration — or              and promoting childproof handguns and                 public mind-set that this insidious form               that race.
who were rewarding the incumbents for                clean-car emissions. But these measures               of corruption is so ingrained in New Jer-
passing legislation that the donors had              were extremely popular with voters, in-               sey that it’s somehow acceptable.
sought.                                              dicating that the one thing that can                     The best defense against the special in-
   Consider this:                                    trump campaign cash is an opinion poll.               terests is to take a greater interest in what
   ä Real estate interests and developers            Some lobbyists see hefty campaign con-                happens in Trenton, to keep an eye on
donated $9.3 million, and were reward-               tributions as a way to inoculate them-                how much money your legislators are
ed with a controversial law that makes               selves just in case some unwanted legis-              getting from those interests. Even more
it easier for developers to get expedited            lation is introduced. “It’s almost like an            important, you need to become better in-
state permits in roughly a third of the              insurance policy,” one lobbyist told The              formed on measures that come before
state.                                               Record. “There’s this sense that if the day           the Legislature, and then make your
   ä Construction unions gave nearly $2              comes that you do need help, you might                voice heard, loud and clear. Contact your
million, after the Legislature gave organ-           not be able to get it if you don’t con-               legislators. Write letters to the editor, and
ized labor a monopoly on work related                tribute.”                                             vote - for candidates who represent the
to New Jersey’s $6 billion school-con-                  One reason that special-interest mon-              public, not the special interests.
40 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                        JANUARY 2005


                                                                                       Published Monday, Aug. 9, 2004




Shaping paternity legislation
Bill advances after sculptor’s donations
By HERB JACKSON                               the divorce proceedings in 1965, how-     legislative session: They made 70 dona-
TRENTON BUREAU                                ever, Johnson signed a formal acknowl-    tions worth $161,850 to legislative can-
                                              edgement of paternity.                    didates, with 92 percent going to those
   “Sculptor” would not normally rank            He tried to reopen the case in 1996, a who would win the 2003 elections.
high on the list of occupations of major      year before the trust fund was to be dis-    Again, the money spanned the polit-
campaign contributors.                        tributed, but the state Supreme Court     ical spectrum. Statewide political action
   But “heir” just might.                     ruled in 2001 that the old paternity ac-  committees controlled by Democrats
   Sculptor J. Seward Johnson Jr. of          knowledgement could not be reopened.      got $47,000, while Republican PACs
Princeton is world-renowned for his           The U.S. Supreme Court declined to        got $36,750. Among the individual can-
life-size cast bronze                         hear the case later that year.            didates, $32,600 went to Democrats
works of people in                               The state Election Law Enforcement     and $45,500 to Republicans.
everyday positions.                           Commission’s database shows that in          During that period, a bill similar to
His depiction of a                            the five years preceding the courts’ rul- Singer’s was reintroduced. It, too, made
businessman looking                           ings, J. Seward Johnson Jr. and his cur-  it out of one committee, then died at the
in a briefcase was in-                        rent wife, Joyce Johnson, made just nine  end of the session.
stalled on the plaza of                       contributions: two $1,800 checks to          But the third time could be the
the World Trade                               state Sen. Peter Inverso, R-Mercer, and   charm: A bill revising the Parentage Act
Center and survived                           seven checks to the Republican State      zipped through the Senate Judiciary
the Sept. 11 attacks.                         Committee worth a combined                Committee in June and won full Senate
Local residents may                           $160,000.                                 approval on a 24-8 vote. It’s now pend-
be familiar with the Under the                   After the ruling, however, the number  ing in the Assembly Judiciary Commit-
man dozing in the influence:                  of donations multiplied and the funds     tee, which approved the similar meas-
wingback chair in the                         were earmarked for legislative candi-     ure in the last session.                            Among the works of sculptor J. Seward Johnson Jr. of Princeton is a life-size figure of
lobby of Hackensack Money in                  dates and committees rather than one         “It looks like it’s wired to pass, and           a man sleeping comfortably in a chair. Titled “After Lunch,” it is in the Hackensack Uni-
University Medical           Trenton          state party. From March to December       that’s just unfortunate,” Assemblyman               versity Medical Center lobby.
Center.                     4th of 7 parts    in 2001, the Johnsons made 20 dona-       Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, said. “It
   Johnson’s     work                         tions worth nearly $119,000 to 14 re-     speaks of what is wrong with legislative            from Johnson, is a potential candidate            “Mr. Johnson has deeply held views
also can be found in and around state         cipients. Both parties shared in the bo-  process.”                                           for governor next year.                        on a number of social issues,” Sico said.
buildings in Trenton, but in the capital      nanza, with $17,500 each going to the        The bill’s two primary sponsors each                But Robert Del Tufo, a former attor-        “He has supported candidates in New
he’s known as much for his checkbook:         four leadership committees controlled     have benefited from Johnson’s largesse:             ney general who represents Jenia John-         Jersey who both support his view on pa-
He and his wife have given more than          by Assembly and Senate Republicans        Assemblyman Neil Cohen, D-Union,                    son, said whole sections of the bill, in-      ternity fraud as well as those who dis-
$280,000 to state candidates and party        and Democrats, ELEC records show.         received $6,900 in campaign contribu-               cluding one temporarily lifting the            agree with him.”
committees since 2001.                                                                  tions, and Assemblyman Anthony Im-                  statute of limitations, are written solely        The state Department of Human
   That was the same year that Johnson,       Pattern of donations                      preveduto, D-Secaucus, received                     to help J. Seward Johnson Jr.                  Services opposes the bill, arguing that
now 74, lost a court battle to force 43-         Thirteen days after the 2001 election, $4,400.                                                “We’re dealing with one particular          finality in determining paternity issues
year-old Jenia “Cookie” Johnson to sub-       the Senate Judiciary Committee ap-                                                            case where parentage was adjudicated           is in the best interest of children. Al-
mit to a DNA test to prove whether            proved a bill by Sen. Robert Singer, R- ‘One particular case’                                 40 years ago and has been upheld by            isha Griffin, an assistant director in the
she’s his daughter, and critics say he’s      Ocean, to change the state’s Parentage       Since Singer’s original bill faltered,           the New Jersey Supreme Court and the           Division of Family Development, testi-
now trying to get the Legislature to do       Act to allow the kind of paternity chal- the measure has been revised several                 U.S. Supreme Court,” Del Tufo said.            fied that allowing challenges to pater-
what the courts would not.                    lenge Johnson was seeking.                times, and supporters now say its pri-              “The Legislature is meddling in those          nity after it has been established could
   He contends she’s not his daughter,           But the bill went no further after mary purpose is to address issues raised                decisions, and this is not a proper role       conflict with federal child support laws
and therefore should not share in a           Singer, who had received $4,400 from by the “paternity fraud” movement —                      for the Legislature. They’re overstepping      and result in “a substantial loss of
$350 million trust set up by his father,      the Johnsons in his reelection cam- men who contend they are wrongfully                       their bounds.”                                 funding” for the state’s child support
the late J. Seward Johnson Sr., son of        paign, complained publicly that he had ordered to pay child support for chil-                    Donald Sico, a consultant who works         and welfare programs.
one of the founders of the global health      been misled by a lobbyist and an attor- dren who are not theirs.                              for Johnson, denied that the contribu-            Lance countered that he’s seen a le-
care product maker Johnson & John-            ney working for Johnson. Singer said he      Senate Minority Leader Leonard                   tions were designed to buy special leg-        gal opinion that federal funding would
son.                                          believed the bill would simply correct Lance, R-Hunterdon, said he co-spon-                   islation. Sico, a former executive direc-      not be affected. The opinion was written
   J. Seward Johnson Jr. is listed as Jenia   an inequity in the law, and would never sored the bill because he believes DNA                tor of the Assembly Republican staff           by Pelletieri, Rabstein & Altman — the
Johnson’s father on her birth certificate,    have sponsored it if he knew it was de- testing should be used to retroactively               who is now president of Capital City           law firm representing J. Seward Johnson
but he contended in his divorce filings       signed to help a single family.           confirm paternity, just as it is used               Solutions, said Johnson definitely wants       Jr. in the paternity suit.
in 1962 that his first wife conceived the        The Johnsons continued their new retroactively to challenge criminal con-                  the parentage law changed but that he
child with another man. At the end of         pattern of contributing in the 2002-03 victions. Lance, who received $3,000                   has other interests as well.                   E-mail: jackson@northjersey.com


                                                                                   Published Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2004



Lawyers won war of dueling donations
                                                                                                                                                                                           of Montvale, supported the doctors’ fight
Doctors couldn’t cap                                                                                                                                                                       for caps but knew it was a lost cause after
                                                                                                                                                                                           Election Night.
malpractice awards                                                                                                                                                                            “That was the sense, that it was all
                                                                                                                                                                                           over,” she said. Vandervalk received
By BENJAMIN LESSER                                                                                                                                                                         $3,000 from MEDAC and $2,500 from
STAFF WRITER                                                                                                                                                                               ATLA.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Vandervalk, who served with Wein-
   Doctors and trial lawyers, locked in a                                                                                                                                                  berg on the Health and Human Services
fierce battle for the hearts and minds of                                                                                                                                                  Committee, believes the perception that
state lawmakers weighing malpractice re-                                                                                                                                                   donations are a prerequisite to being
form, contributed nearly $1.2 million to                                                                                                                                                   heard in Trenton is a serious concern.
2003 legislative campaigns.                                                                                                                                                                   “It’s all wrapped up in the idea that
   Generous dona-                                                                                                                                                                          ‘we’ll give large sums of money and then
tions were nothing                                                                                                                                                                         we’ll be recognized and get what we want
new for the trial                                                                                                                                                                          whether it’s a contract or legislation or
lawyers’ political ac-                                                                                                                                                                     anything else,’Ÿ” she said. “I think that’s
tion committee, which                                                                                                                                                                      the perception out there and that has to
anted      up     about                                                                                                                                                                    change.
$280,000 for 2003                                                                                                                                                                             “Unless we do some serious reform, it’s
and $800,000 over the                                                                                                                                                                      not going to change.”
last three election cy-                                                                                                                                                                       Fund created
cles. They always give                                                                                                                                                                        The doctors did get some of what they
a lot of money.                                                                                                                                                                            wanted from legislators. A bill signed by
   But it was a depar- Under the                                                                                                                                                           Governor McGreevey in June — a conso-
ture of sorts for the influence:                                                                                                                                                           lation prize of sorts — created a $78 mil-
doctors, who more                                                                                                                                                                          lion fund to help physicians pay the high
than tripled their con- Money in                                                                                                                                                           costs of malpractice insurance.
tributions to try to         Trenton                                                                                                                                                          “We still passed a bill that is helpful to
help persuade law-          4th of 7 parts                                                                                                                                                 doctors,” Weinberg said.
makers that the way                                                                                                                                                                           However, the doctors say they didn’t
to rein in skyrocketing insurance premi-                                                                                                                                                   get nearly enough to bring the crisis un-
ums was to cap jury awards in malprac-                                                                                                                                                     der control.
tice cases.                                                                                                                                                                                   “Certainly this issue is not going
   Indeed, MEDAC — the PAC run by the                                                                                                                                                      away,” Abidi said.
Medical Society of New Jersey — gave                                                                                                                                                          Abidi said mistakes had been made in
nearly $900,000 in the last election, a far                                                                                                                                                part because the doctors were “naive.”
cry from the combined $385,000 it spent                                                                                                                                                       “We should have concentrated on
on the previous two legislative campaigns                                                                                                                                                  fewer races,” he said.
combined.                                                                                                                                                                                     The doctors also attracted negative at-
   “In order to move the political process                                                                                                                                                 tention when some of them called one-
in your favor, the way to talk to them …                                                                                                           BETH BALBIERZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER        day strikes — agreeing only to handle
you have to give them donations,” Dr.         Doctors calling for malpractice reform during a rally in front of the State House last year. Physicians tried but failed to win              emergencies — or went door-to-door,
Manzoor Abidi, president of the medical       caps on jury awards.                                                                                                                         clad in their white coats, seeking support
society, said in explaining the change in                                                                                                                                                  in some legislative districts.
tactics.                                      given most of its money to Democrats.            “We were aware of what they were             ample, she said, a friend told her a doctor       The lawyers, on the other hand, waged
   The society’s leaders decided during          “Certainly, after the election, we were    doing, but I don’t think we tried to raise      had placed her photograph in his office        a fierce public relations struggle with
the summer of 2003 that they needed “to       very confident that caps would never be       extra money,” he said. “Whatever we             with the caption: “Bad for medicine.”          their foes. Each time doctors planned a
pull out all the stops” leading up to No-     passed,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman of      were doing we were going to do anyway.”            “That stepped right over the line,”         rally at the State House in Trenton, trial
vember, Abidi said, so they began to ag-      the PAC for the New Jersey chapter of            The legislators                              Weinberg said.                                 attorneys hit the phones to contact
gressively raise money from members to        the Association of Trial Lawyers of              Among the legislators most involved in          Republican state Sen. Gerald Cardi-         clients they had represented in malprac-
give to sympathetic candidates.               America, called ATLA.                         the malpractice debate was Loretta              nale of Demarest said the doctors lost be-     tice suits.
   And those candidates, the doctors be-         Drazin dismissed the notion that do-       Weinberg of Teaneck, the Democratic             cause they hadn’t traditionally been play-        “When they had their rallies, we made
lieved, were mostly Republicans. As a re-     nations buy direct influence. But he did      chairwoman of the Assembly Health and           ers in the political process. Cardinale’s      sure we had some of the victims to go
sult, MEDAC sent most of its dollars to       acknowledge that they enable donors to        Human Services Committee. Weinberg —            top contributor was MEDAC, at $12,800.         public and put a human face on the is-
GOP hopefuls and their party’s PACs.          “educate” receptive lawmakers.                who received $3,000 from ATLA and               The trial lawyers’ PAC gave him nothing.       sue,” Drazin said. “As time went on, we
   But the strategy didn’t work: The doc-        “I don’t think you influence people        $1,750 from MEDAC — said she usually               “The doctors, I think, were looked          did win the PR battle.”
tors had invested heavily in the wrong        with money. You get a chance to educate       sides with doctors, but not this time.          upon by those who are influenced by               In the end, the more politically savvy
party.                                        them on the issues,” Drazin said. “I don’t       “If I had a bias at the beginning, it was    money differently because they tradition-      and experienced trial attorneys were able
   New Jersey Democrats won decisive-         think I’ve been able to persuade someone      toward the medical community,” she              ally were not active in politics,” said Car-   to defeat the passionate but admittedly
ly on Election Night, seizing the majori-     to vote a different way because I wrote       said. “It was the facts of the situation that   dinale, who is a dentist. “So their inter-     naive doctors.
ty in both houses of the Legislature. And     them a check. We educate them about           changed my mind.”                               est would dry up as soon as they achieved         “They may have spent a lot of money,
that spelled trouble for the doctors.         things they may be unaware of.”                  “As far as I was concerned, the mon-         their objective and the lawyers will be        but they didn’t use a lot of common
   “We realized we lost the game,” Abidi         He also said the lawyers would have        ey didn’t have anything to do with it.”         around forever.”                               sense,” Drazin said. “It came to a point in
said.                                         been politically active with or without the      She believed that, in some ways, the            One of Cardinale’s running mates,           time that doctors committed political
   The trial lawyers’ PAC, meanwhile, had     malpractice issue.                            doctors were “very ill-advised.” For ex-        Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk             malpractice.”
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                          THE RECORD 41


                                                                                            Published Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2004




Donations run afoul of the law
Checks to 3 lawmakers top corporate limit                                                                                                                        Errors pervade
By HERB JACKSON


                                                                                                                                                                 state’s data on
TRENTON BUREAU

    You’re a powerful state legislator
raising hundreds of thousands of
dollars for reelection in a district
where the opposing party never
wins. Are you really supposed to
notice if a few
of the corpo-
rate      checks
                                                                                                                                                                 campaign cash
you took have
the same ad-
                                                                                                                                                                 Missing, confusing identifications
dress?
    State elec-                                                                                                                                                  make it difficult to track donors
tion         law,
which is writ-                                                                                                                                                   By BENJAMIN LESSER                     Where to go
ten by the Leg-                                                                                                                                                  STAFF WRITER
islature, says                                                                                                                                                                                          for information
you are. Corpo- Under the                                                                                                                                           Sharpe James is the mayor of        To view campaign finance
rations are not influence:                                                                                                                                       Newark.                                reports or search for
allowed to get                                                                                                                                                      He’s a state senator.               contributors, go to the
around         the Money in                                                                                                                                         He’s also a secretary — if you      New Jersey Election Law
$2,200-per-             Trenton                                                                                                                                  believe the campaign contribu-         Enforcement Commission
election contri-                                                                                                                                                 tion database compiled by the          Web site at www.elec.state.nj
                        3rd of 7 parts
bution limit by                            Anatomy                                                                                                               state.                                 .us/index.html
making multiple donations from af-                                                                                                                                  Indeed, the state’s database is
filiated companies.                        of improper                                                                                                           riddled with inaccuracies like
    But one Monmouth County
businessman, whose multiple com-
                                           contributions                                                                                                         this, making it difficult — and
                                                                                                                                                                 sometimes impossible — to trace
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Jersey laws. Ironically, the very
                                                                                                                                                                                                       people whose campaigns it must
panies are regulated by or do busi-        In reviewing more than 33,000                                                                                         the millions of dollars flowing       oversee are also the people who
ness with the state, did just that         contributions to winning                                                                                              into the campaign coffers of          are responsible for its existence.
with donations to three lawmakers.         candidates and the committees                                                                                         New Jersey’s elected representa-         Under the laws, every candi-
And after The Record questioned            that supported them in the 2003                                                                                       tives.                                date and political action com-
the contributions, Democratic As-          election, The Record uncovered                                                                                           And that means an incom-           mittee must periodically disclose
semblyman Louis Greenwald and              a series of contributions from                                                                                        plete picture of who’s paying the     all contributions of $400 or more
Republican Sens. Joseph Kyrillos           affiliated corporations at the same                                                                                   freight in state politics.            as well as their expenditures. The
and Andrew Ciesla conceded they            Monmouth County address that                                                                                             “It’s important to have that in-   contributor’s name and contact
would have to give the excess do-          totaled more than the legal                                                                                           formation so that you know if         information are supposed to be
nations back.                              amount. The recipients, who were                                                                                      you have a special interest group     included.
    The three then questioned how          all in powerful posts in 2003,                                                                                        involved,” said Edwin Bender,            Since more than 90 percent of
                                           returned the excess donations
they were supposed to know the                                                                                                                                   executive director of the Institute   the reports are filed on paper, it
                                           after being questioned
companies were owned by the                                                                                                                                      on Money in State Politics, a         takes up to six keyboard special-
                                           by The Record.
same person — in this case, Charles                                                                                                                              Washington-based campaign fi-         ists to enter all the information —
J. Hesse III of Middletown.                The donor: Charles J. Hesse III                                                                                       nance watchdog group. “It is an       just as it appears in the reports,
    “It’s very difficult, if not impos-    controls three corporations with                                                                                      investment. They are wanting          including errors and omissions —
sible, for us to know the ownership        the same post office box: C.J.                                                                                        something for their money.”           into the computer database.
of these different companies,” said        Hesse Inc., a highway paving con-                                                                                        The Record found thousands            “If that’s what is in the report,
Greenwald, D-Camden.                       tractor; Brick Wall Corp., which                                                                                      of inaccuracies — from sloppy er-     that is what goes in the system,”
    “I’ve raised a fair amount of          runs the Ocean County landfill; and                                                                                   rors and omissions to shortcom-       Neiman said. “We’re keying it in
money and I know we’ve returned            Atlantic Trucking. Hesse is also                                                                                      ings in the way the data is kept —    as a camera.”
checks. In some ways, I pride my-          one of the state’s biggest owners                                                                                     in a review of more than 33,000          ELEC officials acknowledged
self on not being sure of all the          and breeders of thoroughbred                                                                                          contribution reports from 2002        in interviews that their system is
checks that pour in,” said Kyrillos,       racehorses.                                                                                                           and 2003 maintained by the            far from perfect.
R-Monmouth.                                Recipient 1: Assemblyman Louis                                                                                        state’s Election Law Enforce-            “We know we can be better,”
    Against the backdrop of last           D. Greenwald, D-Camden,                                                                                               ment Commission.                      Frederick Herrmann, the execu-
year’s legislative election, when a        chairman of the powerful                                                                                                 Among the problems:                tive director, said. “We are al-
record-shattering $56 million was          Assembly Budget Committee.                                                                                               ä The names of donors’ em-         ways working to improve.”
raised by the winning candidates,          Greenwald received $2,000 from                                                                                        ployers and donors’ occupations          Herrmann declined to discuss
the tale of a combined $4,400 in ex-       Atlantic Trucking on June 25,                                                                                         are often missing on the original     in detail what the commission’s
cess contributions to three legisla-       2003, and $2,000 on Oct. 1, 2003.                                                                                     reports filed by candidates.          investigators do with reports as
tors may not seem significant. But         That’s $1,800 more than the legal                                                                                        ä When the names are there,        they come in, saying he didn’t
as the state prepares to implement         limit of $2,200 per donor. The                                                                                        they can be spelled as many as        want to divulge investigative
new laws that will make campaign           excess contribution was returned                                                                                      five or six different ways, making    methods. He said only that they
finance even more complex, the ap-         on June 2 of this year.                                                                                               it onerous to track the total con-    are reviewed.
parent violations show that com-           Recipient 2: Sen. Joseph M. Kyril-                                                                                    tributions from one source.              “Money is fungible. It’s very
pliance with the old laws was at           los, R-Monmouth, chairman of the                                                                                         ä Occupations may be wrong,        hard to trace this stuff,” Her-
best uneven, with enforcement un-          Republican State                                                                                                      such as the Newark mayor being        rmann said. “It’s like trying to
derfunded and far from vigorous.           Committee. Kyrillos received                                                                                          listed as a secretary in a report     find a single drop of water in a
    Among the many complications           $1,000 from C.J. Hesse Inc.                                                                                           on a contribution he made to his      full bathtub.”
is the state law that says corpora-        on March 25, 2002; checks for                                                                                         own campaign.                            ELEC has a staff of 44 and a
tions are deemed to be affiliated if       $1,000 each from C.J. Hesse Inc.                                                                                         ä The affiliations of some of      budget that is set to increase by
one person owns more than 30               and Brick Wall Corp. on Aug. 20,                                                                                      the givers can be baffling. An ex-    $2 million this fiscal year, bring-
percent, a fact that no public doc-        2002; and $1,000 from C.J. Hesse                                                                                      ample: A $1,500 donation to           ing its annual funding to just un-
ument discloses for privately held         Inc. on April 20, 2003. His                                                                                           Sen.      John     Girgenti,    D-    der $5 million. The additional
corporations.                              campaign apparently noticed that                                                                                      Hawthorne, received on Feb. 5,        cash will allow the commission
    State law also says that for a con-    the three C.J. Hesse Inc. checks                                                                                      2003, lists the donor as “Local       to hire new staff, enforce new
tribution to be illegal and its recip-     were over the limit and returned                                                                                      464A PAC.” That shorthand ac-         disclosure and auditing require-
ient to be subject to fines, its receipt   $800 on May 1, 2003, but then                                                                                         tually stands for a United Food       ments for lobbyists, and provide
must be “willful and intentional,” a       Kyrillos received $800 from Brick                                                                                     and Commercial Workers union.         additional training for campaign
phrase that is the source of some          Wall on May 22. Kyrillos refunded                                                                                        ä Donors often make contri-        treasurers.
disagreement. Some lawyers argue           the $1,800 excess contribution                                                                                        butions in the names of different        “This is an incredible invest-
that it means a candidate has to           from Brick Wall on June 29                                                                                            companies they own, again com-        ment,” Herrmann said. “This is a
know it is illegal, while others who       of this year.                                                                                                         plicating any effort to collate       pacesetter for the rest of the
have worked on election law cases          Recipient 3: Sen. Andrew R. Cies-                                                                                     their totals — and to enforce the     country. We’ll be a pioneer.”
say it is sufficient to simply prove       la, R-Ocean, former co-                                                                                               legal limits of gift giving.             According to its annual report
the candidate deposited the money.         chairman of the Senate                                                                                                   For example, Arie Halpern, a       for 2003, ELEC collected nearly
                                           Transportation Committee. Ciesla                                                                                      real estate developer, gave about     25,000 disclosure reports from
Over the limit                             received $1,000 from Brick Wall                                                                                       $200,000 to various candidates        campaigns and PACs and
   In the case of Hesse — whose in-        Corp. on June 24, 2002, and                                                                                           or party organizations in the run-    $87,000 in fines for violations.
terests include trucking, highway          $2,000 on May 7, 2003, refunded                                                                                       up to the 2003 elections through         However, in its annual report
paving, operating a landfill, and          $800 to Brick Wall on May 20,                                                                                         at least 30 companies he con-         for 2003, ELEC says it brought
owning and breeding racehorses —           2003, then received $800 from                                                        STAFF PHOTOS BY CHRIS PEDOTA     trols. The only string tying all      55 complaints against candidates
The Record flagged donations from          Atlantic Trucking on May 31, 2003.     From top, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, and               that money together was the           for not filing disclosure forms
three of his companies that added          He refunded $800 to                    Sen. Andrew Ciesla received more in donations from a businessman’s             same address, P.O. Box 457 in         and 32 other complaints for vio-
up to more than the legal amount.          Atlantic Trucking on June 2            companies than allowed under state law. They returned the excess               Woodbridge, listed on all the         lations ranging from the person-
All three had used the same post of-       of this year.                          money after the contributions were questioned by The Record.                   forms. But if anyone searched         al use of campaign contributions
fice box.                                                                                                                                                        ELEC’s database for Arie              to accepting donations beyond
   Campaign records show that                                                                                                                                    Halpern, they would find only         the legal limit.
both Ciesla, R-Ocean, and Kyrillos         tors can also face fines of up to      the double donations was noticed        son, and he would be returning the     two donations — for $1,000 and
received checks that totaled $3,000,       $100,000 — up to $200,000 in the       almost immediately, and the re-         donation. Through a spokes-            $5,000 — in the last three years.     Electronic filing
or $800 over the limit, from one of        next election cycle — if the com-      funds were posted a day after the       woman, Kean described Domino              ä Many of the reports are   Some states, such as Montana,
Hesse’s companies. They then re-           mission believes an illegal donation   deposits on his campaign finance        as a personal friend.                                              have already moved to a fully
                                                                                                                                                                 handwritten and the handwriting
turned the $800, only to have the          was intentional.                       reports. State law says excess do-         Hesse corporations also gave                                    electronic filing system that al-
                                                                                                                                                                 can be poor, making it difficult to
same amount come back during                  Inquiries by The Record also led    nations returned within 48 hours of     $2,500 to John Bennett, the Re-                                    lows them to automatically flag
                                                                                                                                                                 determine the identity of a con-
the same election cycle from a dif-        to Sen. Thomas Kean Jr., R-Union,      their receipt do not violate the law.   publican from Monmouth County          tributor.                   potential campaign finance vio-
ferent company Hesse controlled.           returning a contribution raised in        Of the $37,400 in excess contri-     who was co-president of the even-         ä If a candidate accepts a con-
                                                                                                                                                                                             lations, including donations that
   Hesse did not return several calls      the 2003 election. It was not a new    butions that Kean refunded in April     ly divided Senate last year but lost   tribution that exceeds the legal
                                                                                                                                                                                             exceed the legal limit, Bender
for this story.                            experience for the senator, who        2003, $30,800 was donated back to       in November. Bennett said he           limit and then returns the differ-
                                                                                                                                                                                             said. While he acknowledged
   Kyrillos said the $800 coming           emerged as a leading Republican        his general campaign the following      would give the excess donation         ence, the refund is not added to
                                                                                                                                                                                             that the initial cost of such a sys-
back from another company with             spokesman over the past two years      August.                                 back if he had it, but his 2003 cam-   the database.               tem could be high, the long-term
the same post office box “should           for ethical reforms.                                                           paign still has a $16,000 debt.           When The Record first began
                                                                                                                                                                                             benefits outweigh that concern,
have sent up a red flag.” But both            Kean had a fund-raiser in April     $2,200 returned                                                                reviewing the contributions, it
                                                                                                                                                                                             he said.
he and Ciesla denied there was any         2003 where 16 donors contributed          Kean also blamed an accounting                                              appeared that Sen. Thomas      “It’s a way of ultimately saving
intention to get around contribu-          $4,400 each, or double the legal       error for another donation to the                                              Kean Jr., R-Union, kept $37,000
                                                                                                                                                                                             a lot of money,” Bender said.
tion limits.                               amount. He said the excess dona-       2003 primary campaign that he re-                                              in donations that exceeded the
                                                                                                                                                                                             “Idaho has gone to purely elec-
   “I can tell you most assuredly          tions were returned the next day       turned in June, after The Record                                               state limits. In reality, Kean’s
                                                                                                                                                                                             tronic filing and their office and
that when we’re doing our reports,         when his campaign learned of the       questioned it. Kean reported re-                                               campaign had refunded the   budget has not changed. Three
we’re not going through calcula-           “clerical mistake,” which he           ceiving $4,400 on March 28, 2002,                                              money shortly after receiving it,
                                                                                                                                                                                             people are doing the job.”
tions saying, ‘Let’s send this back        blamed on a treasurer who was          from an Anthony Domino, who                                                    but the electronic data did notHowever, New Jersey is far
and have them send the money               more familiar with federal cam-        was described as a pension benefits                                            reflect that.               from alone in its difficulty in
back to us through an alternate            paign finance laws than state laws.    executive from Connecticut on                                                     In an interview, Carol   maintaining quality data.
contribution,’Ÿ” Ciesla said.                 Candidates for federal office may   Kean’s reports. Kean told The                                                  Neiman, ELEC’s director of sys-“Every state where we get
   Fred Herrmann, executive direc-         accept contributions for their pri-    Record that the donation was legal                                             tems administration, acknowl-
                                                                                                                                                                                             electronic data, we spend more
tor of the Election Law Enforce-           mary and general election cam-         but misreported because it came                                                edged the problem, and said her
                                                                                                                                                                                             time [cleaning] the electronic
ment Commission, declined to               paigns at the same time, but New       from Domino and his wife, each of                                              staff was working to fix it.data than on the data we input,’’
comment specifically on the cases          Jersey law requires them to actual-    whom legally could give $2,200.                                                                            Bender said.
uncovered by The Record, except            ly win a primary before raising           But when The Record followed                                            Disclosure reports                 Neither      Herrmann        nor
to say the candidates could be in vi-      money for the general election.        up with a question about another                                             The Election Law Enforce- Neiman would speculate on
olation of the law. He said the            Candidates may roll over any un-       $2,200 check dated March 13,                                               ment Commission was created when all campaigns will be re-
commission uses “prosecutorial             spent primary donations into gen-      2003, from an Anthony Domino in         Sen. Thomas Kean Jr. returned by the state Legislature in 1973 quired to file electronically.
discretion” in determining which           eral election campaigns.               West Harrison, N.Y., Kean called        $37,400 in excess contributions in to collect campaign finance in-
candidates to sanction. Contribu-             Kean said the error of accepting    back to say that was the same per-      2003 after a “clerical mistake.”   formation and to enforce New E-mail: lesser@northjersey.com
42 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                                    JANUARY 2005


                                                                                        Published Thursday, Aug. 12, 2004



Politicians share the wealth with campaigns
Donations boost power of legislative, party chiefs Politicians as contributors
                                                                                                                        State and county committees can accept contributions 10 to 15 times as large as those that individual can-
By HERB JACKSON                                            Lautenberg was chosen as his successor. Federal law          didates can accept, and then those committees can pass on unlimited amounts to candidates for their elec-
TRENTON BUREAU                                             provided Torricelli with several options: He could re-       tions. As a result, state and county leaders can use these funds to enforce party discipline. Here’s a look at
                                                           fund unused donations, give the money to a party             the top 15 contributors in 2003 among political committees, candidates, and officials, along with a breakout
   Hoping to move up in politics someday?                  committee, or hold on to it to use for a future cam-         of what kinds of committees received their contributions.
   Well, if you’re a candidate in New Jersey, you          paign or other political purposes, which is what he                                                                To single/joint To county/
might want to make sure that you raise enough mon-         appears to be doing.                                                                                                 candidate       municipal To statewide
ey to share it with people who will be in positions to        Torricelli’s 2002 year-end report shows he refund-        Organization                                   Party committees committees committees                   Total
help you.                                                  ed about $291,000 in contributions, out of $9.9 mil-
   The third-largest category of campaign contribu-        lion raised from 1997 through 2002.                          New Democratic Assembly Leadership PAC            D     $2,826,296      $432,590        $73,000 $3,331,886
tors to the Legislature in 2003, af-                                                                                    Democratic State Committee                        D      2,462,301       208,390        169,500       2,840,191
ter real estate/construction inter-                        Political powerhouses                                        Senate Democratic Majority Committee              D      2,058,209       162,900        585,550       2,806,659
ests and labor unions, was politi-                            Torricelli’s and Kean’s contributions, however,           Camden County Democratic Committee                D      2,224,333       103,000        290,210       2,617,543
cians and committees, a Record                             pale by comparison to the powerhouses of politician-
                                                                                                                        Burlington County Republican Committee            R        882,675                      627,082       1,509,757
analysis shows.                                            to-politician financing — the legislative leadership and
   The contributors break down                             state and county party committees — which can legal-         Gloucester County Democratic Organization D                831,253          9,000         28,625        868,878
into three general categories: par-                        ly accept 10 to 15 times as much as candidates them-         Bergen County Democratic Organization             D        417,330         10,750       391,500         819,580
ty committees that can take big do-                        selves.                                                      Sweeney for Senate                                D        662,000         23,000         30,500        715,500
nations and spread the wealth                                 A 1993 state law bars legislative candidates from         Middlesex County Democratic Organization          D        115,556       227,500        197,665         540,721
around to other candidates; politi-                        accepting more than $2,200 per election from an in-
cians in safe districts or newcomers                       dividual and $7,200 from most PACs. But that same            Assembly Republican Majority                      R        281,907                      258,105         540,012
who want to curry favor in ad- Under the                   law — passed by many of the people who are still in          Senate Republican Majority                        R        140,950                      330,085         471,035
vance of their next step up the lad- influence:            power today — set up special rules for PACs con-             Republican State Committee                        R        363,003                        95,126        458,129
der; and ex-pols who are trying to Money in                trolled by legislative leaders and state committees,         West New York Municipal Democratic Comm. D                   8,200         37,000       370,500         415,700
keep their fingers on the pulse of                         which could accept up to $25,000, and county com-            Sweeney, Burzichelli & Fisher                     D        262,800         20,000          1,750        284,550
power.                                  Trenton            mittees, which could accept up to $37,000.
   Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean, 5th of 7 parts                 These committees were also allowed to give un-            Jon Corzine                                       D         38,400       121,500        112,500         272,400
                                                                                                                        Source: Record analysis of New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission data
who hasn’t launched a campaign                             limited amounts to individual candidates, boosting
since leaving the State House 14 years ago, still has      the power of legislative leaders and party bosses
$370,000 in a political action committee. In the 2003      tremendously.                                      county leaders who often determine who gets the                                 And congressmen are not the only politicians in
race he donated $2,500 of it – along with $6,600 from         The New Democratic Assembly Leadership PAC,     “party line” on primary ballots also has been a proven                       safe districts helping out fellow candidates. Senate
himself and his wife — to his namesake son, a state        controlled by Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, led thetechnique for people looking to break onto the po-                           President Richard Codey’s individual campaign com-
senator and potential gubernatorial contender next         pack by giving victorious 2003 candidates and the  litical scene or move up the ladder.                                         mittee gave 10 other candidates and committees a
year.                                                      committees that supported them more than $3.3 mil-     In 1999, a largely unknown investment banker                             combined $177,000, including $37,000 each to the
   Former Sen. Robert G. Torricelli still has more                                                            named Jon Corzine opened his checkbook to coun-
                                                           lion. That included $2.8 million to individual candi-                                                                           Camden and Gloucester County party organizations,
than $2 million he raised for his aborted 2002 re-         dates and joint candidate committees, $432,000 to  ty committees and legislative candidates, helping him                        where Democrats faced tough races.
election campaign and has been spreading it around         county committees, and $73,000 to state committees.capture several county endorsements in his 2000 U.S.                            Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, is
among candidates in New Jersey and beyond.                    The Senate’s leadership committee and the state Senate Democratic primary battle against former                              said to be maneuvering for a possible run for gover-
   Among his most controversial donations was                                                                 Gov. Jim Florio.
                                                           committee, which is effectively controlled by Gover-                                                                            nor in 2009, and he showed it’s never too early to
$1,000 — which was returned — to Lambertville May-         nor McGreevey, each doled out $2.8 million.            Corzine has continued to help state candidates                           start making friends in other parts of the state. Green-
or David DelVecchio while Torricelli was battling a                                                           since going to Washington. In the 2003 elections he
                                                              In addition to helping win elections, the ability of                                                                         wald, who is chairman of the Assembly Budget Com-
traffic ticket in that borough.                                                                               donated $50,000 to the Assembly Democrats,
                                                           state and county leaders to control such huge sums is                                                                           mittee, doled out $258,000 to 16 different recipients,
   Torricelli also gave $50,000 to Florida-based                                                              $25,000 each to the Senate Democrats and state
                                                           critical to party discipline, since those who toe the line                                                                      including $12,800 to Assemblyman Peter Eagler, D-
Americans for Jobs & Health Care, which ran cam-           know they’ll be helped come election time while    committee, and $37,000 each to the Bergen, Camden,                           Clifton.
paign ads in Iowa and New Hampshire attacking              those who stray might be frozen out.               and Gloucester County party committees.                                         Greenwald also gave $7,200 each to candidates
Howard Dean, then the front-runner, during the De-            Some county organizations, such as Bergen’s De-     “His track record in supporting the party has been                       Joan Voss of Fort Lee and Robert Gordon of Fair
mocratic presidential primaries; $2,500 to the Iranian                                                        pretty clear for a while,” said Corzine spokesman
                                                           mocrats, have largely centralized fund raising for lo-                                                                          Lawn, who won open seats in Bergen County’s 38th
American Political Action Committee in New York                                                               David Wald. “He thinks it makes a difference if De-
                                                           cal and legislative candidates, giving party leaders                                                                            District.
City; and $58,000 to an organization called Grass-         even more power. Bergen Democrats doled out        mocrats control the Legislature, just as he’s working                           Leading the pack on the Republican side was Dou-
roots Democrats, whose address, ironically, is on lob-                                                        really hard on the federal level to get a Democratic
                                                           $417,000 to winning legislative candidates and joint                                                                            glas Forrester, the pharmacy benefits management ex-
byists row: K Street in Washington.                        committees.                                        Senate.                                                                      ecutive who was leading Torricelli in the 2002 Senate
   To the top state and county committees in the 2003         And in a sign of how money wheels around the        “He really believes elections determine policy,”                         race but ultimately lost to Lautenberg. Forrester, a po-
election, Torricelli gave $82,500, including $25,000                                                          Wald said.
                                                           state, the county committee gave $232,000 to the De-                                                                            tential candidate for governor next year, gave
each to the Democratic State Committee and Senate          mocratic State Committee, $100,000 to the Assembly     Two Democratic members of the House of Rep-                              $143,270 to party candidates and committees, in-
Democratic Majority Committee and $15,000 to the           Democrats, and $60,000 to the Senate Democrats —   resentatives who may have higher aspirations in state                        cluding $50,000 to the Assembly Republicans’ PAC.
New Democratic Assembly Leadership PAC.                    while also receiving $598,000 from those three     politics were also among the top donors in the 2003                             Other potential Republican contenders and their
   Though some party leaders had hoped Torricelli          groups.                                            races: Rep. Robert Menendez of Hoboken spread                                donations were Bergen County businessman Robert
would turn his campaign kitty over to the party when                                                          around $106,400, while Rep. Steve Rothman of Fair                            Schroeder, $53,400; investment banker Lewis Eisen-
he dropped out of the Senate race in September 2002,       An open checkbook                                  Lawn donated $58,750, including $42,000 to the                               berg, $33,450; and Morris County Freeholder John
the chances of that happening ended when foe Frank          Bestowing donations on legislative candidates and Bergen County Democrats.                                                     Murphy, $25,425.




Party leaders’ fund transfers aid senator’s rise
Sarlo campaign
benefited from
‘wheeling’ of
contributions
By BENJAMIN LESSER
STAFF WRITER

   Paul Sarlo owes his state Sen-
ate seat to the 18,035 people who
voted for him in the 36th Legisla-                                                                                                                                                                                CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
tive District, made up mostly of
southern Bergen County towns.
   But the Wood-Ridge Democrat
also owes his victory to more than
$1 million in campaign cash do-
nated by a select group living out-
side the district — the state party’s
power brokers.
   Nervous about holding on to
the seat, Democratic leaders cast
a wide fund-raising net for Sarlo,
hauling in contributions from oth-
er lawmakers, political bosses in
counties as far-flung as Camden
and Middlesex, and of course,                                                                                                                                              MEL EVANS/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
some of New Jersey’s most gener-        Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, celebrating after he won election to a full term last fall. A committee controlled by Senate President Richard J. Codey,
ous campaign donors.                    top right, gave Sarlo $644,068 in aid, and a PAC controlled by Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, lower right, gave him more than $100,000.                                                   ASSOCIATED PRESS
   More than 65 percent of all the
funds Sarlo received came from             But campaign watchdogs and             Sarlo also received $16,450           none has led to any formal                   didates,” said Alan Rosenthal, a           former chairman of the Democ-
state, county, and legislative war      other critics point to a troubling     from local International Brother-        charges or fines, said Jeff Brindle,         Rutgers University political sci-          ratic State Committee. “It con-
chests. “We needed resources to         underside to wheeling. These flur-     hood of Electrical Workers               ELEC’s deputy director. “Once                ence professor who served on the           centrates legislative power more
get our message out,’’ he said.         ries of transfers — often done in      unions. IBEW unions donated an           the money goes into the commit-              committee that recommended the             than it ever was before.”
   Sarlo is not the only political      the final days of a campaign — al-     additional $78,100 to the New            tee’s treasury, it’s difficult to trace      1993 reforms.                                 Republicans have also been in
figure whose meteoric two-year          low wily donors to evade cam-          Democratic Assembly Leadership           it,” he said.                                   “It’s better to see all that done       a position to take advantage of
rise from obscurity to the Senate       paign contribution limits, they        PAC, controlled by Assembly                                                           by the parties than by various in-         the system. In 2001, former Sen-
was paved with the deep pockets         say.                                   Speaker Albio Sires of West New          Part of reform effort                        terest groups.”                            ate President Donald T.
of party bosses, and he certainly                                              York. Sires’ committee then gave            Despite these concerns, the                  But the law also gave some top          DiFrancesco served as acting gov-
will not be the last.                   Unlimited sums                         Sarlo more than $100,000.                current system has its defenders,            legislative leaders even more              ernor after Christie Whitman re-
   In fact, he is a beneficiary of a       An individual donor, for exam-         There is no way to determine          who note that it was established             fund-raising clout than originally         signed to join the Bush adminis-
process that allows party leaders       ple, is permitted to give Sarlo a      whether any of the same money            in the last set of major campaign            envisioned. As speaker, Sires con-         tration.
to amass hefty contributions and        maximum of $2,200 for a general        that organized labor gave to the         finance laws enacted in 1993. Be-            trols the New Democratic As-                  DiFrancesco was in a rare but
then transfer, or “wheel,” the          election campaign, while a PAC         Senate or Assembly committees            fore that, individual candidates             sembly Leadership political ac-            powerful spot to launch his own
funds directly to a candidate’s         can contribute up to $7,200.           actually ended up in Sarlo’s cam-        were viewed as easy prey for spe-            tion committee, which took in              campaign for governor. He was
campaign account. At least $14             But a donor can multiply his or     paign. But some critics fear that        cial interest groups and lobbyists,          more than $5 million in dona-              raising money for the Senate Pres-
million was wheeled from one            her potential influence by also        donors, chafing at the contribu-         who sometimes recruited candi-               tions and spread around more               ident’s leadership PAC, main-
party organization to another and       making donations to state party,       tion limits, privately ask party of-     dates, raised money for them, and            than $3.3 million to Democratic            tained control of the Republican
to individual candidates during         legislative leadership or county       ficials to route their money to spe-     even ran their campaigns.                    legislative candidates and com-            State Committee, and also raised
last year’s election, when $56 mil-     committees — up to $25,000 to          cific candidates — a tactic that            The creation of new and pow-              mittees.                                   money for his own 22nd District
lion was spent overall on winning       state party or legislative leader-     party leaders routinely deny exists      erful “legislative leadership’’ com-            In addition, Sires is the mayor         legislative account — until he
campaigns.                              ship committees and $37,000 to         and that watchdogs acknowledge           mittees, controlled by each party’s          of West New York and controls              dropped out of the race amid
   Quite often, top party leaders       county committees. Many of             is almost impossible to confirm.         top officials in the Legislature,            the West New York Democratic               questions about past business
collect contributions from other        these same committees are then            “The commission has ex-               was aimed at changing that rela-             Municipal Committee. His West              dealings.
county committees and contribu-         free to transfer unlimited sums to     pressed concern about unlimited          tionship. Now, special interest              New York committee contributed                Rosenthal added that no cam-
tors and route the money into           a candidate’s campaign.                transfers,” said Frederick Her-          money is consolidated with the               more than $400,000 to the De-              paign finance system yet devised
campaigns that need it.                    Various local plumbers unions,      rmann, executive director of the         leadership, who can then exercise            mocrats’ legislative election ef-          has been able to totally regulate
   These transfers, party officials     for example, contributed $9,800        state’s Election Law Enforcement         control over how it is spent. Sup-           forts in 2003, including a $37,000         the flow of campaign cash.
say, allow them to carry out their      to Sarlo’s campaign. They also         Commission. “There’s an appear-          porters say the money — and in-              loan to the Bergen County De-                 “If you say you’ve come up
core “party-building” responsibil-      contributed $92,250 to the Senate      ance that the money is circulating       fluence — is pooled and diluted,             mocratic Committee.                        with the perfect campaign finance
ities: raising and spending money       Democratic Majority Committee,         in a way that can’t be accounted         making it less likely for candidates            “It’s fair to say that, for starters,   system,” he said, “I’ll personally
to get enough of their members          controlled by Senate President         for. It could lead to the circum-        obligated to any one donor.                  the laws permitting transfers be-          sign the papers to have you com-
elected so that they can dominate       Richard J. Codey. In turn, Codey’s     vention of contribution limits.”            “It means that the parties are            tween party organizations never            mitted.”
city councils, county freeholder        committee gave Sarlo $644,068 in          ELEC has conducted investi-           responsible for raising money, al-           contemplated anything near this
boards, and the state Legislature.      financial support.                     gations of suspected wheeling, but       locating funds, and recruiting can-          magnitude,” said Tom Byrne Jr.,            E-mail: lesser@northjersey.com
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                                                       THE RECORD 43


                                                                                          Published Friday, Aug. 15, 2004



Reforms won’t close campaign cash spigot
Package of ethics measures
leaves system largely intact
By HERB JACKSON                         stricter than limits in place for
TRENTON BUREAU                          publicly financed gubernatorial
                                        races.
   When he signed a package of             Candidates who raise 1,000
ethics reforms in June, Governor        contributions of $5 and 500 con-
McGreevey declared that New             tributions of $30 could receive the
Jersey was taking “significant          full public financing. In turn, they
steps to reduce the influence of        would be barred from taking any
money in politics.”                     other money or support — includ-
   But those                            ing money from party committees
reforms will                            or, in the case of incumbents,
not      funda-                         from campaign funds they had
mentally                                previously raised. In the guberna-
change      the                         torial system, candidates receive
way political                           matching funds for private dollars
campaigns in                            they raise up to a limit, but party
the state are                           committees still can chip in on
funded.                                 top of that.
   An analysis                             “Even if it doesn’t result in a
by The Record Under the                 massive overhaul of the Legisla-
has found that influence:               ture, it allows legislators to think
if the new                              and act and vote on issues with-
laws had been       Money in            out having to worry about
in effect dur-       Trenton            whether it’s going to affect their
ing the 2003        6th of 7 parts      contributions,” said Staci Berger,
legislative                             a program director for New Jersey
elections — when the winners            Citizen Action, a reform group.
raised an unprecedented $56 mil-           “A lot of legislation is going to
lion — only a trickle of the flood of   benefit somebody. We want the
money from groups trying to af-         Legislature to evaluate those pro-
fect state policy would have been       posals independently,” she said.
plugged.
   And even that might not have         Leaky plug
occurred, because firms still could         Of all the bills in the reform
sidestep the new restrictions by        package, however, the one that
changing the way they donate.           got the most attention involved
   The 25-bill ethics package did       “pay to play” — the much-ma-
address a host of issues that had       ligned practice in which lucrative
been on reformers’ wish lists for       government contracts are award-                                                                                                                             CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
years, including broader disclo-        ed to firms that make big cam-         A legislative session in Trenton. A new law requires legislators to disclose their sources and amounts of income, and another limits campaign
sure laws for legislators and lob-      paign contributions. Pressure for      contributions from contractors.
byists and a pilot program for          a ban grew after a California-
publicly financed elections of leg-     based contractor botched the job
islators.
   But numerous other proposals
                                        of overhauling the state’s motor
                                        vehicle inspection system. A sub-
                                                                                Highlights of changes                                                      cracked down a decade ago on
                                                                                                                                                           pay-to-play among underwriters
                                                                                                                                                                                                   giving money to someone with
                                                                                                                                                                                                   the expectation that he would
to change the way Trenton does          sequent investigation found that        ä Mandatory disclosure of who pays for “grass-roots” advertising to        of government bonds — a reform          pass it along to the intended can-
business went nowhere. For ex-          the contractor became the sole          influence legislation or regulations and for recorded telephone calls      sparked in part by a scandal in the     didate. And the reform package
ample:                                  bidder for the job after hiring         about candidates and public questions.                                     administration of Gov. James J.         increased penalties for doing so.
   ä Corporations and labor             well-connected lobbyists and con-       ä Better disclosure of legislators’ sources of income, including dol-      Florio — they restricted contribu-         Now, if someone evades con-
unions can continue to make di-         tributing to key officials and com-     lar ranges.                                                                tions not only by brokerage firms       tribution limits through wheeling,
rect contributions to candidates        mittees.                                ä Pilot program of publicly financed legislative elections for candi-      but also by their employees. They       he will be subject to a fine of up to
and committees, even though the             The law, which takes effect af-     dates who demonstrate broad support and agree to strict fund-rais-         also required disclosure of contri-     three times the amount of the
state Election Law Enforcement          ter the 2006 election, was touted       ing limits.                                                                butions by any lobbyists or con-        contribution. And if the evasion is
Commission pushed for a ban             as the toughest pay-to-play ban in      ä Ban on legislators’ voting on bills in which they have a personal fi-    sultants hired by the underwriters      designed to get around the pay-
similar to the one imposed by           the country, a boast that is true as    nancial interest, and increased penalties for violations.                  to help get them work.                  to-play law, the penalty can be as
Congress on federal elections.          far as it goes. New Jersey’s ban                                                                                       Since that time, contributions      much as the amount of the con-
                                                                                ä Prohibition on state officials soliciting contributions on state
   ä New Jersey’s dubious distinc-      does more to limit contributions                                                                                   to state committees from bankers        tract awarded, plus a five-year dis-
tion as the nation’s leader in dual     from contractors than any other         property.                                                                  who underwrite government debt          qualification from receiving fu-
office-holding by officials will        state, but only three other states      ä Reducing from $400 to $300 the level at which a contributor’s            have declined markedly. Some            ture government contracts.
continue unchecked; the reforms         have passed such laws.                  name must be disclosed, and repealing the law requiring that               employees of banking firms are             But proving such a scheme
merely created a committee to               The new law says a firm cannot      threshold to be increased periodically.                                    still allowed to give, but only if      usually involves one player in the
study the issue.                        receive a no-bid government con-        ä Mandatory training for campaign treasurers about contribution            they’re not involved in the invest-     conspiracy agreeing to testify
   ä A measure touted as a tough        tract worth more than $17,500 if        limits and reporting requirements.                                         ment side of the business.              against another. A simpler way,
conflict-of-interest ban was ap-        that firm gave a campaign contri-       ä Ban on legislators, the governor, and Cabinet heads taking jobs              Those restrictions by the Mu-       included in a bill that passed the
proved, but lawmakers them-             bution of any amount to the offi-       as lobbyists within one year of leaving office.                            nicipal Securities Rulemaking           state Senate in March 2003 but
selves continue to be the ones to       cial or officials with the power to     ä Mandatory disclosure of lobbyists’ efforts to influence executive        Board were a model used by the          died in the Assembly, was to cap
determine if a personal conflict        award the contract — or to the          branch decisions, including contract awards; previous disclosure           state Investment Council this year      how much a contractor could
actually exists.                        party committees at the official’s      laws applied only to lobbying the Legislature.                             when it was crafting a policy to        give overall.
   ä The vast majority of donors        level of government — in the pre-                                                                                  block political favoritism in hiring       Roberts, the Assembly majority
                                                                                ä Placing additional members of the public on boards that regulate
face no new restrictions. They in-      vious 12 months.                                                                                                   investment managers for the             leader, said that approach was
clude issue-oriented groups such            But most campaign contribu-         executive and legislative ethics.                                          state’s multibillion-dollar pension     unconstitutional. In order to lim-
as those fighting gun control or        tors do not receive government          ä Ban on lobbyists’ accepting contingency fees to influence legis-         funds. The council is considering       it a business’s eligibility for a gov-
smoking, as well as unions, busi-       contracts — which means that,           lation or regulations.                                                     a rule that would bar any contract      ernment contract, he argued,
nesses, and professional groups         even with the strictest enforce-        ä Random audits of lobbyists’ disclosure reports by the state Elec-        from going to a firm if the firm, its   there had to be a connection be-
whose contributions are aimed at        ment, the new law would have no         tion Law Enforcement Commission.                                           employees, or a company PAC             tween the donation and the per-
influencing laws and regulations,       impact on 22 of the 27 contribu-        ä Ban on no-bid government contracts going to some firms that              gave a related political contribu-      son or group with the power to
not obtaining government con-           tors who gave more than                 make campaign contributions.                                               tion in the previous two years.         award the contract. He argued
tracts.                                 $200,000 in the 2003 election.                                                                                         The proposal also tried to bar      that a stricter ban would violate
   ä A law aimed at contributors            And even the remaining five                                                                                    contributors from getting around        free speech rights.
who do get no-bid contracts —           might be able to adjust the way   play money to flow, consider the          law had been in effect because its     the ban.                                   Roberts also opposed limits on
touted as an unprecedented ban          they contribute so that they couldcontributions to the Democratic           $25,000 donation came from the             “The practices of other states      county-to-county transfers of do-
on what’s known as “pay to play”        continue getting contracts.       State Committee from consult-             firm itself.                           are largely distinguished by the        nations.
— has so many loopholes that it             Lawmakers’ own fund-raising   ants hired by the New Jersey                 But things are not as clear with    magnitude of their loopholes,”             “The Republican Party in
may end up affecting a minuscule        machines also will hardly be af-  Turnpike Authority.                       the DeCotiis firm. Its $40,000         council Chairman Orin Kramer            Burlington County, for example,
number of donors.                       fected because, as a body, the Leg-  The law will prohibit the state,       contribution was made up of 34         of Englewood wrote in a confi-          wants Republicans around the
   “This phony ban on pay-to-           islature grants few government    as well as state agencies and au-         checks from 18 different lawyers,      dential memo. Kramer, a major           state to be as strong as they can
play was designed from the very         contracts directly — even though  thorities, from giving no-bid con-        and there’s no easy way to know        Democratic contributor, argued          be, and should be able to send
start to fail,” said Assemblyman                                          tracts worth more than $17,500
                                        it helps craft the state budget from                                        which lawyers have an interest of      for protecting the pension system       money to a county which is trying
Richard Merkt, R-Morris.                which the contracts are paid and  to firms that contribute to the           more than 10 percent. Some, in-        from political hacks out to make        to build its party strength,”
                                        approves school and municipal     governor or to his party’s state          cluding those with the last name       a buck.                                 Roberts said, deliberately select-
Many bills praised                      aid that pays for many of the at- committee.                                of DeCotiis, presumably hold a 10          “Probably the most difficult is-    ing a GOP example.
   To be sure, many bills in the        torneys and architects and ac-       Since the Turnpike Authority           percent interest. But others may       sues surround the multifarious in-         In the final negotiations on the
package were hailed by ethics ad-       countants who get the local no-   recently assumed control of the           not, and nothing in the law would      direct paths through which eco-         pay-to-play law, Roberts did agree
vocates as long overdue, and they       bid work.                         Garden State Parkway, it had two          stop the firm from getting a con-      nomic actors purchase political         to a ban on county transfers dur-
bring New Jersey more in line               Harry Pozycki, chairman of    sets of consultants in 2003 — most        tract if those other attorneys were    good will,” he wrote. “Among            ing the first six months of every
with other states that have been        Common Cause New Jersey and       of whom were contributors to the          the ones giving the money.             high-end sophisticates in the po-       year, which Senate President
cited for tough ethical standards.      one of the driving forces behind  Democratic State Committee. The              The law actually leaves it to the   litical marketplace, it may take        Richard Codey, D-Essex, had
   Some addressed issues that           pay-to-play restrictions, said a  law firms were Woodbridge-based           firms seeking a contract to file a     the form of funneling contribu-         sought. Such a ban would block a
have been a source of criticism for     study by his group found that     Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer,               written certification that they are    tions to a low-visibility political     county boss from sending money
years, such as the revolving door       while McGreevey was the Demo-     which gave $51,000 and was paid           eligible because they did not          committee which then makes in-          into another county to influence
between government and lobby-           cratic mayor of Woodbridge and    $1.8 million in 2003, and Teaneck-        make any contributions that            dependent expenditures or trans-        a primary. But it would still allow
ing. One change requires legisla-       Republican Bret Schundler was     based DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole         would trigger the ban. But just in     fers to another committee, known        party bosses to wheel money
tors and top state officials to wait    mayor of Jersey City, 19 percent  & Wisler, which gave $40,000 and          case they did, the law allows them     as ‘wheeling.’                          around the state to influence gen-
a year after leaving office before      of their local contributions came was paid $1.5 million.                    to ask the official who got the            “Much more commonly, it in-         eral elections in November.
beginning to lobby.                     from local contractors.              Environmental        consultant        money to give it back — thus mak-      volves retaining well-connected            Some advocates for reform say
   Other laws were aimed at im-             Pozycki said pay-to-play mon- Birdsall Engineering gave $25,000         ing them eligible for the contract.    intermediaries whose influence          these kinds of transfers make it
proving weak public disclosure          ey is the most corrupting money   and was paid $1 million, while               And, of course, there’s nothing     arises at least in part from politi-    more difficult to trace who is ac-
requirements. For example, legis-       in the political system.          another environmental consult-            in the law to stop Deloitte &          cal contributions. … We do not          tually trying to influence office-
lators now must indicate their              “What makes it most corrupt-  ant, PMK Group, gave $13,000              Touche — or anyone else — from         want investment managers to do          holders; they say it could be time
sources of income within a dollar                                         and earned $223,000. General
                                        ing is it is initiated by the career                                        landing a contract if its individual   indirectly [hiring major contribu-      to question the wisdom of contri-
range; previously, no amounts           politicians and the party fund-   consulting engineer HNTB Corp.            accountants make contributions         tors as intermediaries] what we         bution limits. Among them is
had to be revealed. Lobbyists also      raisers,” Pozycki said. “They’re  gave $20,000 and was paid $7.4            instead of the firm itself.            disallow them from doing direct-        Gregg Edwards, a former execu-
will have to acknowledge their at-      pushing the contractors to give   million, while traffic engineer              “This bill was not everything I     ly [treating their own political        tive director of the Senate Repub-
tempts to influence the executive       more money, so they have to im-   Vollmer Associates gave $9,600            wanted it to be,” said Assembly-       contributions as a business devel-      lican staff who worked on the
branch for permits and contracts;       ply there’ll be more contracts.   and was paid $1 million. Auditor          woman Loretta Weinberg, D-             opment tool].”                          commission that recommended
the old law dealt only with the         And the impact of this corrupting Deloitte & Touche gave $25,000            Teaneck, who sponsored the pay-                                                the first contribution limits on leg-
Legislature.                            is mostly felt by the taxpayer be-and was paid $166,200.                    to-play law and battled with De-       Debate over ‘wheeling’                  islators in the early Nineties.
   “The 25-bill package was the         cause it’s the contract that’s the   One might assume that since            mocratic leaders to make it        Critics raised many of the same                “Those reforms encouraged
most comprehensive package in           bait for the contribution.”       the firms all earned more than the        tougher. “But I do believe that questions about the state’s new                people to start sending money to
over 30 years, and I think as those         U.S. Attorney Christopher     pay-to-play law’s $17,500 thresh-         [with a law addressing] no-bid  pay-to-play law. They complained               other entities so those entities
laws begin to be implemented and        Christie noted that the now-im-   old, none would be able to get fu-                                        that it does too little to stop
                                                                                                                    contracts, we’ll be able to get at                                             would then send that money to
become reality, people will see         prisoned former Essex County      ture contracts if they continued          the most egregious allegations  would-be contractors from con-                 the intended beneficiary, all of
we’ve made great progress,” said        Executive James Treffinger in-    contributing after 2006. But it’s         that have been made about pro-  tributing to legislative leadership            which makes disclosure very dif-
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph                                           not that simple.
                                        structed a county official to tell a                                                                        committees, which can accept up
                                                                                                                    fessional services and pay-to-play.                                            ficult,” Edwards said. “And to the
Roberts, D-Camden, a chief ar-          contractor to increase his price by  The law’s restrictions apply to                                        to $25,000 a year, or to county
                                                                                                                       “It’s better than what was there                                            extent that you make disclosure
chitect of the package.                 $10,000 so the contractor could   contributions from a business or                                          committees, which can accept up
                                                                                                                    before and it’s better than noth-                                              harder to police, harder to imple-
   He was most proud of the bill        contribute that amount to Tre-    from an individual with an inter-         ing,” Weinberg said.            to $37,000. Those committees, in               ment, harder to follow, then it’s
signed Wednesday that estab-            ffinger’s campaign accounts.      est of 10 percent or more in the                                          turn, can pass unlimited money                 bad for the system.”
lished a pilot “clean elections”                                          business’s profits or stock. That         Others’ reforms                 on to officials with the power to                 Roberts said that if reformers
program. It provides public fi-         Limited ban                       means Deloitte & Touche would               But others have found ways to award a contract.                              are unhappy with the final pay-to-
nancing for candidates who agree          To understand how gaps in the not have been able to get the turn-         be tougher.                        It was already illegal to try to            play law, they would have been
to strict fund-raising limits —         new law could still allow pay-to- pike contract if the pay-to-play            When federal regulators get around contribution limits by                           See CAMPAIGNS Page 44
44 THE RECORD                                                                                                                                                                                                       JANUARY 2005


                                                                                       Published Sunday, Aug. 15, 2004



Campaigns: Donations to keep flowing despite reforms
From Page 43                              For example, the commission        office-holding, which a re-            were about policing themselves.            But 11 days later, Coniglio, the    the rest of the nation, but we
even more outraged if lawmakers        wanted the state to follow the        searcher at the National Confer-           State Sen. Joseph Coniglio, for     former president and finance           must also continue to work to-
had tried to dismantle existing        lead of the federal government        ence of State Legislatures said is     example, sponsored a bill to re-        chairman of a plumbers union lo-       gether to uphold the highest
contribution limits. Despite crit-     and 46 other states and ban cor-      more prevalent in New Jersey           vise conflict-of-interest rules for     cal in Lodi, voted for a bill the      standards of ethical conduct,” he
icism of the new law, Roberts be-      porate contributions. It also rec-    than anywhere else in the coun-        legislators and increase fines for      union had been seeking. It re-         said.
lieves it and the overall reform ef-   ommended a ban on unions              try. Allowing one person to be         violations from $1,500 to               quires public construction proj-          Assembly leaders who devised
fort will be a winning issue with      making direct contributions from      both a mayor and a legislator, for     $10,000.                                ects using prefabricated materials     most of the plan said they would
the voters.                            their treasuries.                     example, complicates enforce-              Under the old law, lawmakers        to pay union-scale wages for any       be open to further changes. In
                                          In federal elections, corpora-     ment of the pay-to-play ban: The       were allowed to vote on bills that      plumbing work.                         particular, Weinberg is planning
Wish lists                             tions and unions may only make        mayor’s local campaign might           would benefit them financially if          Coniglio, who retired in May        to push a bill later this year to
   Overall, ELEC Executive Di-         donations through PACs funded         not be able to receive contribu-       they filed a statement saying they      from the local but remains a           clarify that municipalities and
rector Fred Herrmann said, the         by voluntary donations from em-       tions from the municipal attor-        had impartially considered them.        member, said he had no conflict.       counties could impose stricter
commission — which is getting a        ployees or members. New Jersey        ney, but the mayor’s legislative       The new law, which took effect          “I wasn’t going to derive any          pay-to-play bans than the mini-
$2 million boost to its budget this    allows most corporations and all      war chest could happily take the       immediately, prohibited such            profit from it,” he said.              mums set by the state law.
year — was pleased with the            unions to make direct donations       money.                                 votes.                                     Even McGreevey, when he                “If the public’s faith in govern-
package. But some reforms that         — as well as operate their own           The reform package was tout-            “It is long past time that the      signed the ethics package in June,     ment has been eroded, it’s been
ELEC had repeatedly sought in          PACs — essentially allowing two       ed as restoring public confidence      Legislature begin taking con-           conceded that he had hoped for         eroded over time, and it will be
its annual reports to the governor     bites at the contribution apple.      in elected officials, but events       flicts-of-interest voting seriously,”   more, especially on pay-to-play.       restored over time,” said Roberts.
and the Legislature were not im-          Reform advocates have also         after its passage raised questions     Coniglio, D-Paramus, said when             “We should be proud of the
plemented.                             called for the state to curb dual     about how serious legislators          the bill was approved.                  example New Jersey has set for         E-mail: jackson@northjersey.com


                                                                                       Published Monday, Aug. 16, 2004



Highs and lows of political fund raising
Donations to North Jersey campaigns covered wide range                                                                                                       About the data
                                                                                                                                                             The total amount raised by each legislator includes money
By HERB JACKSON                           At the other end of the fund-      ond among his top donors.              Otherwise, party leaders say, it         raised for primary and general elections and combines
and BENJAMIN LESSER                    raising spectrum were a host of          Across the nine districts in        was not likely that Sen. Nia Gill,       donations of more than $400 that were compiled in a state-
STAFF WRITERS                          so-called “safe” districts where      The Record’s circulation area,         D-Montclair, or Sen. Robert              managed database with totals received under $400 on paper
                                       incumbents from the dominant          the New Jersey Education Asso-         Martin, R-Morris Plains, would           reports filed with the state.
   Fund raising by North Jersey        party — Democrats in the 32nd,        ciation ranked among the top 10        have had to work as hard at              For legislators who had joint committees with running mates,
candidates for the state Legisla-      34th, 35th, and 37th, Republi-        donors to 14 of the region’s 27        fund raising. Gill raised                totals for those committees were apportioned to each candidate
ture last year was a tale of ex-       cans in the 26th, 39th, and 40th      legislators, giving $54,878. La-       $476,000 to retain her seat in the       named in the committee. Donations from candidates to their
tremes: They won some of the           — raised far more modest              borers unions, the top donor           34th District, which covers parts        own joint committees were excluded.
most expensive seats in the 2003       amounts.                              overall to winners in the 2003         of Essex and Passaic counties.           Totals for legislative leadership committees include amounts
election, and some of the cheap-          For example, state Sen. Paul       campaign, were among the lead-         Martin took in $388,000 to win           raised in 2002 and 2003.
est.                                   Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, raised           ing donors to 13 legislators in        reelection in the 26th, which
   The win-                            nearly $1.7 million to hold on to     the region, with $101,500 in           covers parts of Morris and Pas-
ning candi-
dates in two
                                       his 36th District seat in 2003,
                                       while 37th District Assembly-
                                                                             contributions. Three groups —
                                                                             the Coalition of Auto Retailers,
                                                                                                                    saic counties.
                                                                                                                       “Bob Martin raised almost
                                                                                                                                                             The staff
highly com-                            man Gordon Johnson, D-Engle-          the state Realtors Association,        $400,000, but he probably oth-           ä Herb Jackson, 42, has covered New Jersey gov-
petitive dis-                          wood, took in $44,000. That           and police unions around the           erwise would have had                    ernment and politics or directed coverage as an
tricts raised                          works out to $92.14 per vote for      state — ranked among the top           $38,000,” said Bill Palatucci, fi-       editor for 15 of the past 20 years. A Hudson County
nearly $4.8                            Sarlo, and $1.95 per vote for         donors to 10 local legislators.        nance chairman for the Republi-          native and Rutgers University graduate, he has
million com-                           Johnson.                                 Party committees dominated          can State Committee. Palatucci           worked in the Trenton bureau of The Record since
bined,      the                           Sarlo got $5,000 from the tri-     the donor list in races where the      was still angry that Martin had          1998. Since February 2002, he has taken readers
third-     and Under the               al lawyers’ lobby, while Johnson      most money was raised.                 to spend so much to hold on to           behind the scenes in Trenton with his column,
fourth-largest                         got $500. The state’s largest            For example, Sarlo collected        his seat, because the intra-party        “Capital Games.”
totals among
                  influence:           teachers union gave Sarlo             more than $1 million from just         battle used up money that could                            ä Benjamin Lesser, 28, has worked on computer-
the 40 legisla-   Money in             $6,800 and Johnson $1,700. Sar-       four party sources — the Senate        have been spent trying to oust                             assisted projects since coming to The Record in
tive districts     Trenton             lo got $13,800 from construction      Democratic Majority Commit-            Democrats in November.                                     November 2000 from the Times Union of Albany,
statewide.        Last of 7 parts      and recycling companies con-          tee, Democratic State Commit-             “It was a complete waste of                             N.Y. While attending the University of Missouri
   In    those                         trolled by Joseph Sanzari, Sarlo’s    tee, New Democratic Assembly           resources in a fight that was very                         School of Journalism, he worked for the National
districts — the 38th in Bergen         employer. Johnson got $500.           Leadership PAC, and Bergen             counterproductive,” Palatucci                              Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting. He has
County and the 36th, covering             The same kinds of contrasts        County Democratic Organiza-            said.                                                      also taught classes at Columbia University’s Grad-
parts of Bergen, Passaic, and Es-      hold true with Republicans.           tion; that total combines his in-         “Safe” legislators also have to                         uate School of Journalism.
sex counties — Democrats took          While 36th District Assembly-         dividual fund raising with his         worry about a challenger with            ä Editors: Deirdre Sykes, Charles Stile
both Senate seats and three of         man Paul DiGaetano of Nutley          share of receipts from a commit-       significant personal wealth              ä Copy editors: Mike Kozma, Nancy Cherry
four Assembly seats. The victo-        raised $805,098, 39th District        tee he ran with his Assembly           emerging from the other party.
                                                                                                                                                             ä Graphics editor: Jerry Luciani
ries dashed Republicans’ hopes         Assemblywoman Charlotte Van-          running mates.                         Longtime state Sen. Byron Baer,
of gaining control of the Senate       dervalk of Montvale collected            For many legislators from           facing a spirited challenge from         ä Designer: Robert S. Townsend
and expanded the Democrats’            $46,093. That’s $46.96 per vote       “safe” districts, the biggest threat   businessman Barry Honig,                 ä Graphic artist: Bob Rebach
majority in the Assembly.              for DiGaetano, $1.45 per vote         is not the general election in No-     raised nearly $400,000. More             ä Photographer: Chris Pedota
   Both major parties poured           for Vandervalk.                       vember but the June primary,           than 40 percent of that total
money into those races, and the           Vandervalk’s biggest donor         when they have to win their par-       came from the Senate Democra-           cumbent protection plan,”              question I’m going to have is,
top donors there closely mir-          was the New Jersey Medical So-        ty’s nomination to run in the fall.    tic Majority Committee, the             Palatucci said. “They should be        ‘How much money do you have
rored the top donors to legisla-       ciety’s political action commit-         In two North Jersey districts,      Bergen County Democratic Or-            staying close with their con-          in the bank?’Ÿ”
tive campaigns statewide. As a         tee, which gave $3,000. The doc-      otherwise safe senators had to         ganization, and Baer himself.           stituents and raising money. If
rule, party committees and labor       tors gave DiGaetano $14,050,          ramp up their fund raising to             “Every incumbent with half a         an incumbent comes in and has          Email: jackson@northjersey.com
unions led the pack.                   but that only ranked them sec-        fend off primary challenges.           brain is employing their own in-        a conversation with me, the first      and lesser@northjersey.com




                                                          40th Legislative District
                                            Cedar Grove, Franklin Lakes, Little Falls, Mahwah, Midland Park, Oakland, Ridgewood, Ringwood, Verona, Wanaque, Wayne, Wyckoff


                                                                            Henry P. McNamara                                        Kevin J. O’Toole                                             David C. Russo
                                                                         Senate, R-Wyckoff                                          Assembly, R-Cedar Grove                                   Assembly, R-Ridgewood
                                                                         Legislative service: Senate, 1985-                         Legislative service: General As-                          Legislative service: General As-
                                                                         present; minority whip, 1990-91; as-                       sembly, 2002-present, 1996-2001;                          sembly, 1990-present
                                                                         sistant minority whip, 1989                                deputy Republican leader, 2004-                           Committee assignments: Financial
                                                                         Committee assignments: Environ-                            present; assistant majority leader                        Institutions and Insurance; Housing
                                                                         ment; Transportation                                       1998-2001; Senate, 2001                                   and Local Government; Joint Leg-
                                                         Total raised: $299,675                                     Committee assignments: Budget; Transportation             islative Committee on Ethical Standards
                                                                                                                    Total raised: $164,666                                    Total raised: $130,793


                                                         Top Donors                                                 Top Donors                                                Top Donors
                                                         Name                                   Amount              Name                                    Amount            Name                                    Amount
                                                         Daibes Bros.-Demetrakis                   $9,600           Prismatic Development                   $11,600           Russo, his family and businesses        $21,000
                                                         MEDAC-Medical Society PAC                 $7,500           Michael Zemsky Architects                $5,400           Van Eck Global                           $4,625
                                                         Nowell Amoroso Klein                      $7,500           Edward McGlynn-ERM Government Affairs $5,200              Frank and Jesse Adamiak                  $4,000
                                                         Laborers Unions                           $7,200           JCA Associates Inc.                      $4,400           Police Unions                            $3,950
                                                         McNamara for County Executive             $7,200           WMBC TV 63                               $4,400           Bergen County Republican Organization    $3,590
                                                         J. Fletcher Creamer-Creamer Environmental $5,000           Ravin Greenberg                          $4,000           Shotmeyer Bros. Petrol                   $3,500
                                                         Coalition of Auto Retailers               $5,000           Bergen County Republican Organization    $3,590           DeCroce for Assembly                     $3,000
                                                         Fuel Merchants Association                $4,500           Wachovia                                 $3,000           Passaic Cnty Regular Repub. Organization $2,860
                                                         Computer Crafts Inc.                      $4,400           Passaic Cnty Regular Repub. Organization $2,860           New Jersey Education Association         $2,500
                                                                                                                    Hovnanian                                $2,750           Realtors PAC                             $2,500
                                                                                                                    Schoor DePalma                           $2,750           Collins & Stuhltrager for Assembly       $2,500


Committee: Senate Democratic Majority                    Committee: New Democratic Assembly Leadership              Committee: Senate Republican Majority                     Committee: Assembly Republican Majority
Total raised: $4,004,391                                 Total raised: $5,718,726                                   Total raised: $3,771,009                                  Total raised: $1,911,649
Top Donors                                               Top Donors                                                 Top Donors                                                Top Donors
Names                                        Amount      Names                                         Amount       Names                                         Amount      Names                                         Amount
Passaic County Democratic Committee         $117,000     West New York Municipal Dem. Comm.           $370,500      Burlington County Repub. Committee           $120,000     Communications Workers of America             $60,000
Essex County Democratic Committee           $103,400     Middlesex County Democratic Org.             $197,000      Communications Workers of America            $100,000     DeCroce for Assembly                          $50,000
Plumbers Unions                              $92,250     Laborers Unions                              $100,000      Metro Homes                                   $65,000     Douglas Forrester                             $50,000
Camden Cnty Democratic Committee             $73,210     Commerce Bank/Insurance                      $100,000      NJBIA-Business and Industry Assn              $60,900     Republican State Committee                    $49,750
Bergen Cnty Democratic Organization          $60,000     Bergen County Democratic Organization         $99,500      Police Unions                                 $51,250     Philip Morris USA Inc.                        $45,000
SEIU-Service Employees Union                 $50,000     Parker, McCay & Criscuolo                     $81,000      Kyrillos for Senate                           $50,000     Bell for Assembly                             $40,000
Codey for Senate                             $50,000     Communications Workers of America             $80,000      Singer for Senate                             $50,000     NAIOP Developers PAC                          $34,600
Community Corrections Corp.                  $50,000     Joseph Jingoli Cos.                           $79,500      Gormley for Senate                            $50,000     NJBIA-Business and Industry Assn              $34,000
Communications Workers of America            $50,000     IBEW-Electrical Workers                       $78,100      Republican State Committee                    $45,376     Lowenstein Sandler                            $33,900
Democratic State Committee                   $50,000     DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler          $70,000      Philip Morris USA Inc.                        $45,000     Builders PAC of N.J.                          $32,500
Dem. Legislative Campaign Committee          $50,000                                                                Ciesla for Senate                             $45,000
JANUARY 2005                                                                                                                                                                               THE RECORD 45


                                                                      Published Monday, Aug. 16, 2004



                                           26th Legislative District
               Bloomingdale, Butler, Chatham Borough, East Hanover, Florham Park, Hanover, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Montville, Morris Plains, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Pequannock,
                                                                         Pompton Lakes, Riverdale, West Milford

                                                          Alex DeCroce                                             Robert J. Martin                                        Joseph Pennacchio
                                                          Assembly, R-Parsippany-Troy Hills                          Senate, R-Morris Plains                               Assembly, R-Montville
                                                          Legislative service: General As-                           Legislative service: Senate, 1993-                    Legislative service: General As-
                                                          sembly, 1989-present; Republican                           present; assistant majority leader,                   sembly, 2001-present; appropria-
                                                          leader, 2003-present; Republican                           1994-97; General Assembly, 1985-                      tions officer, 2004-present
                                                          conference leader, 2002-03; deputy                         93; minority whip 1990-92                             Committee assignments: Appro-
                                                          speaker, 1994-2001                                         Committee assignments: Educa-                         priations; Federal Relations
                                          Committee assignments: Legislative Services              tion; Judiciary; Joint Committee on the Public          Total raised: $117,730
                                          Commission                                               Schools
                                          Total raised: $404,223                                   Total raised: $388,052

                                          Top Donors                                               Top Donors                                              Top Donors
                                          Name                                        Amount       Name                                        Amount      Name                                      Amount
                                          Laborers Unions                             $15,800      Senate Republican Majority                  $28,000     Dental PAC                                 $6,200
                                          Railroad Construction                       $11,900      Robert Martin                               $18,000     Coalition of Auto Retailers                $4,700
                                          Motor Truck Association PAC                 $11,850      Levinson Axelrod                            $15,200     MEDAC-Medical Society PAC                  $3,000
                                          UPS                                          $7,200      New Jersey Education Association             $9,950     Realtors PAC                               $2,500
                                          Coalition of Auto Retailers                  $6,550      Riker Danzig                                 $8,500     Federal Hill Risk Management               $2,350
                                          Edwards & Kelcey Constructors Inc.           $5,650      Singer for Senate                            $7,200     Operating Engineers                        $2,100
                                          Boswell Engineering PC                       $5,300      Gormley for Senate                           $7,200     New Jersey Education Association           $2,000
                                          Builders PAC of N.J.                         $5,000      DeCroce for Assembly                         $6,000     Bio-Reference Labs                         $1,600
                                          Associated General Contractors PAC           $4,900      JBL RAL Associates                           $5,400     Five contributors tied                     $1,500
                                          NJBIA-Business and Industry Assn             $4,700      Lum, Danzis, Drasco & Positan                $5,250
                                          Realtors PAC                                 $4,700



                                           32nd Legislative District
                                                     East Newark, Fairview, Harrison, Jersey City (partial), Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus

                                                          Anthony Impreveduto                                      Joan M. Quigley                                         Nicholas J. Sacco
                                                          Assembly, D-Secaucus                                     Assembly, D-Jersey City                                 Senate, D-North Bergen
                                                          Legislative service: General As-                         Legislative service: General As-                        Legislative service: Senator, 1995-
                                                          sembly, 1987-present; deputy                             sembly, 1994-present; deputy                            present
                                                          speaker, 2002-present; minority                          speaker, 2004-present; minority                         Committee assignments: Trans-
                                                          conference leader, 1994-2001                             parliamentarian, 1999-2001                              portation, chairman; Law and Public
                                                          Committee assignments: Regulat-                          Committee assignments: Home-                            Safety; Veterans Affairs
                                          ed Professions and Independent Authorities, chair-       land Security and State Preparedness, chairwoman;       Total raised: $154,376
                                          man; Transportation; Joint Legislative Committee on      Budget; Health and Human Services
                                          Ethical Standards                                        Total raised: $97,861
                                          Total raised: $339,857
                                          Top Donors                                               Top Donors                                              Top Donors
                                          Name                                        Amount       Name                                        Amount      Name                                      Amount
                                          Doria Democratic Leadership Fund            $15,000      Hudson Cnty Democratic Organization          $4,298     N. Bergen Dem. Municipal Committee        $60,319
                                          Cohen for Assembly                          $13,924      Police Unions                                $3,900     Laborers Unions                            $9,200
                                          Funeral Directors-PAC                        $8,500      Hospital Association                         $3,600     Coalition of Auto Retailers                $5,000
                                          ATLA Legal PAC-Trial Lawyers                 $8,000      Laborers Unions                              $3,300     Plumbers Unions                            $4,900
                                          Secaucus Democratic Committee                $7,500      New Jersey Education Association             $2,900     Hudson Cnty Democratic Organization        $4,298
                                          Police Unions                                $7,500      Dental PAC                                   $2,800     DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler       $3,625
                                          Coalition of Auto Retailers                  $7,200      Realtors PAC                                 $2,500     New Jersey Education Association           $3,600
                                          Hudson County Board of Realtors              $7,000      Davis Saltzberg Wenger                       $2,250     Piro, Zinna, Cifelli & Paris               $3,100
                                          Wilenta Feed Inc.                            $5,500      ATLA Legal PAC-Trial Lawyers                 $2,000     Metcalf & Eddy                             $3,050
                                          Ophthalmology PAC                            $4,500      Plumbers Union                               $1,800     MEDAC-Medical Society PAC                  $3,000
                                          NJCPA PAC-Accountants                        $4,500



                                           34th Legislative District
                                                                   Clifton, East Orange, Glen Ridge, Montclair, West Paterson

                                                          Peter C. Eagler                                          Nia H. Gill                                             Sheila Y. Oliver
                                                          Assembly, D-Clifton                                       Senate, D-Montclair                                    Assembly, D-East Orange
                                                          Legislative service: General As-                          Legislative service: Senate, 2002-                     Legislative service: General As-
                                                          sembly, 2002-present                                      present; General Assembly, 1994-                       sembly, 2004-present
                                                          Committee assignments: Regulat-                           2001; minority whip, 1996-2001                         Committee assignments: Health
                                                          ed Professions and Independent                            Committee assignments: Com-                            and Human Services; Labor; Law
                                                          Authorities, vice chairman;                               merce, vice chairwoman; Judiciary;                     and Public Safety
                                          Telecommunications and Utilities, vice chairman;         Legislative Services Commission                         Total raised: $78,130
                                          Senior Issues                                            Total raised: $476,165
                                          Total raised: $130,066

                                          Top Donors                                               Top Donors                                              Top Donors
                                          Name                                        Amount       Name                                        Amount      Name                                      Amount
                                          Roberts for Assembly                        $14,400      Senate Democratic Majority Committee        $53,810     Roberts for Assembly                       $7,200
                                          Greenwald for Assembly                      $12,800      ATLA Legal PAC-Trial Lawyers                 $8,500     Eagler for Assembly                        $7,200
                                          Egan for Assembly                            $5,000      Coalition of Auto Retailers                  $7,200     Nigerian PAC                               $3,800
                                          Peter Eagler                                 $3,500      Codey for Senate                             $7,200     Realtors PAC                               $2,500
                                          Harold Leb and Associates                    $2,785      Gill Baltimore and Solomon                   $6,200     Joseph Iznnd                               $2,000
                                          Passaic County Education Associations        $2,600      Bobbi Brown Plofker                          $5,400     New Jersey Education Association           $2,000
                                          Sires for Assembly                           $2,500      Lowenstein Sandler                           $5,300     Grace Reformed Baptist Church              $2,000
                                          Preakness Healthcare                         $2,400      Longshoremen                                 $5,200     Joseph Yeadon                              $1,500
                                          New Jersey Education Association             $2,000      Laborers Unions                              $5,000     Nine contributors tied                     $1,000
                                          Andalaft and Associates                      $1,800      Three contributors tied                      $4,000




                                           35th Legislative District