March 08, 2008

Denial for public records leads to complaint


Contact: Tina Renna, President
Union County Watchdog Association
908-709-0530 Email:

Walter M. Luers, Esq.
Law Offices of Walter M. Luers, LLC
105 Belvidere Ave., Oxford, New Jersey 07863
Phone: 908.453.2147 Email:

Union County - Attorney Walter Luers has filed a complaint with the state’s Government Records Council on behalf of the Union County Watchdog Association in response to the county’s refusal to turn over documents responsive to the UCWA’s request seeking records that would show what individuals donated to a county sponsored fund-raiser in which the county manager was personally involved in and profited from and politicians used as a campaign whistle stop free from Election Law Enforcement reporting guidelines.

(l-r) Assemblywoman Linda Stender, Governor Jon Corzine, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, Freeholder Chester Holmes, Sheriff Ralph Froehlich, Freeholders Daniel Sullivan and Angel Estrada

• Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew, who is the appointed Union County manager, used the 2007 Musicfest as a backdrop to raise money for his friend’s organization. “Over a couple of beers in Wales, we put together a structure to make Musicfest ’07 a pilot music festival in which the Love Hope Strength Foundation would be a part.” Stated George Devanney in a blog on the LHSF website.

(l-r) Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski, Senator Raymond Lesniak's newphew-Appointed Union County Manager George Devanney, Freeholder Alexander Mirabella

• The Co-Chairs of the event were Assemblyman Neil Cohen, Assemblywoman Linda Stender and Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jean Kowalski.

• The county manager’s wife listed on her website that she was the treasurer of the Love, Hope Strength Organization.

• County resources, including the website and employees, were used to organize, facilitate and raise the money for the event.

• For raising in excess of $25,000 the county manager got to go on the organizations free trip to Mt. Everest in Nepal.

• For donating certain amounts of money contributors, including county employee's and county vendors, got to rub elbows with elected officials while attending a private party at the county manager's home in which county vendors performed.

• Politicians connected to the Union County Democrat machine got to use the fund raiser as a campaign whistle stop free from Election Law Enforcement Commission rules on campaign spending and contribution reporting.

“The fact that Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew is now trying to keep the details of this publicly funded and facilitated event out of public view after being so intimately involved and had personally gained from is despicable beyond words," stated Tina Renna, president of the Union County Watchdog Association.

“This was a shameless exploitation of what may very well be a worthy cause, for personal gain and political grandstanding,” continued Renna. “County concerts have been used as campaign whistle stops for the one-party ruled county government since their inception. Vendors have been donating to these supposed “free concerts” in which campaigning pols are given top billing over the acts who are paid by the taxpayers to perform. The addition of a fund raiser at this year’s Musicfest was turned into more backroom dealings that cross the line between public resources and the practice of Union County Democrat Committee politicians campaigning at the taxpayer’s expense. The UCWA has vowed to shine a light on this abuse of the public trust wherever it rears its ugly head.”

The complaint and exhibits can be viewed in its entirety HERE.

"It's all about getting elected baby!" Senator Raymond Lesniak's nephew, appointed Union County Manager, George Devanney - 2007 MusicFest