November 03, 2006

Costs to taxpayers to date for incumbent Democrat freeholders fall campaign: $245,926

The Union County Republican Committee has issued a press release today stating that it has asked both the State and Federal governments to investigate the spending of tax dollars which promote incumbent freeholders at election time.

During the recent freeholder debate Freeholder Al Mirabella defended the practice of spending taxpayer money on mailers and commercials. Mirabella contends that they need to inform the public of services. Why they only need to inform the public of services at election time wasn’t mentioned. Mirabella also didn’t offer a reason why the county spent approximately twice as much touting their shared services initiative as the $102,000 State grant they received to explore ways to save money.

Pay close attention to the messages you get from Union County government and the timing of when you get them. After all, you are paying for them. Don't expect the freeholders to show you the bill or even tell you that they are behind it, but be sure that their pictures and names will be prominently featured in the hopes that you'll remember them in the election booth. I hope you remember them too, here they are again: Democrat Freeholders, Al Mirabella, Debora Scanlon and Chester Holmes.

The taxpayer costs to date for the Democrat freeholders fall campaign are $245,926. The following is a breakdown.

Union County Day at Trailside mailed 9/21/2006 featuring Al Mirabella:
Cost: $148.00
for postage (County claims that this piece was printed in-house therefore there are no costs associated with printing 500 4 color 2 sided glossy piece.)
View postage bill by clicking HERE.

Union County shared services program in which the freeholders tell us “We’re going to be even more connected to you”. Commercial which has been running these past weeks leading up to Election Day features Al Mirabella and Freeholder Daniel Sullivan who will be up for re-election next year when no doubt this same commercial will be run during the 2007 campaign season:
Cost: $159,925.
View commercial bill by clicking HERE.
View commercial by clicking HERE.

Shared Services mailer sent 10/12/2006 featuring Al Mirabella and Daniel Sullivan:
Cost: $32,369.42 for postage (County claims that this piece was printed in-house therefore there are no costs associated with printing 200,000 4 color 4 page glossy piece.)
View postage bill by clicking HERE.
View mailer by clicking HERE.

Senior News Letter featuring all 3 freeholders who are up for re-election and a mention of all 9 on the back.
Cost: $3,483.83 for postage mailed 10/20/2006 (County claims that this piece was printed in-house therefore there are no costs associated with printing approximately 13,350 of the 8 page news letter.)
View postage bill by clicking HERE.
View newsletter by clicking HERE.

Every household and business in Union County received a copy of the Union County Directions Newsletter this week. You receive two every year, one right before the primary and general elections.
Cost: Approximately $50,000 for the postage and printing. This piece is produced by county employees during their taxpayer funded work day.

November 3, 2006
Contact: Phil Morin – 908-451-4995

GOP Says Democrats Fail To Disclose
Use of Taxpayer Money to Pay for Political Mailings, TV Ad

Today, the Union County Republican Committee (“UCRC”) sent a formal request to the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) and the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (“ELEC”) for an investigation of the Democratic freeholder candidates’ last-minute mailers paid for with taxpayer dollars and the Union County Alliance’s failure to comply with FEC and ELEC regulations, including the failure to file as a continuing political committee under New Jersey election law. The UCRC alleges that the Democratic freeholder candidates violated election law by using taxpayer funds to fund a six-figure media campaign and that the Alliance’s blatant political mailer requires the Alliance to file with ELEC.

“It is beyond question that the Directions newspaper, shared services flyer and television ad violate ELEC regulations regarding political communications within 90 days of an election,” said Phil Morin, Union County Republican Chairman. “What’s worse is that this election time propaganda is paid for with taxpayers’ dollars.”

Late this week, county residents received a 24 page newspaper from the Union County Alliance, which is funded with taxpayer dollars and was found by the Government Records Council earlier this year to be subject to the Open Public Records Act because of their close links with the all-Democrat Union County government. The thinly-veiled campaign piece featured at least 12 photos of freeholder chairman Mirabella, and 10 photos of Deborah Scanlon, who is also up for reelection, and numerous articles touting the freeholders’ alleged “governmental or political objectives or achievements,” a clear violation of the political communications regulations.

Additionally, the inclusion of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s photo in the Directions newspaper raises the question of whether federal election law requirements were violated we are calling on the FEC to investigate this matter as well. “The inclusion of a candidate for federal elected office in the Alliance’s election eve newspaper appears to be a violation of federal election law which we will prosecute to the full extent of the law,” Morin said.

That same freeholder chairman is featured in a television ad that conveniently began to run this fall and is linked to the county’s web page at . Ironically, the brochure and the TV commercial highlight the County’s receipt of a $104,500 state grant for promotion of shared services. The all-Democrat freeholder board has spent over $200,000 – twice the amount of the grant -- promoting the fact that they received this grant, according to bills for postage, printing and production of a TV ad were paid for with taxpayer funds.

“The brochure, Directions publication and the television commercial are “political communications” under ELEC’s regulations, and the cost of these communications must be disclosed as “in-kind” contributions on their campaign reports by law. The Democratic freeholders failed to disclose these expenditures on their 29-day pre-election day October 2006 filing with ELEC, which is a violation of law. The Democrats could be facing thousands of dollars in fines from both the FEC and ELEC as a result of failure to report the misuse of taxpayer dollars to fund what is essentially campaign literature.

“It’s time for the County Democrats to stop using taxpayer’s hard-earned money to pay for trips to Chicago and Hawaii, for no-bid contracts for their relatives and for their political campaigns,” Morin said. “The all-Democrat Freeholder Board is spending over $1 million of our tax dollars a day, is it any wonder why Union County is one of the top ten highest taxed counties in the country?”

(See below for text of ELEC regulation regarding “political communications.” Copies of all alleged political communications and bills relating to mailer/TV ad available upon request.)
N.J.A.C. § 19:25-10.10 Political communication contributions
. . . .
(b) A written statement, pamphlet, advertisement or other printed or broadcast matter or statement, communication, or advertisement delivered or accessed by electronic means, including, but not limited to, the Internet, that does not contain an explicit appeal pursuant to (a) above for the nomination for election or for the election or defeat of a candidate shall be deemed to be a political communication if it meets the following conditions:

1. The communication is circulated or broadcast within 90 days of the date of any election in which the candidate on whose behalf the communication is made is seeking nomination for election or elected office; except that in the case of a candidate for nomination for the office of Governor in a primary election, the period of time that a communication shall be deemed political shall be on or after January 1st in a year in which a primary election for Governor is being conducted, and in the case of a candidate for election to the office of Governor in a general election, the period of time that a communication shall be deemed political shall begin on the day following the date of the gubernatorial primary election;

2. The communication is circulated or broadcast to an audience substantially comprised of persons eligible to vote for the candidate on whose behalf the communication was made;

3. The communication contains a statement or reference concerning the governmental or political objectives or achievements of the candidate; and

4. The production, circulation or broadcast of the communication, or any cost associated with the production, circulation or broadcast of the communication, has been made in whole or in part with the cooperation of, prior consent of, in consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of the candidate.