MAY 9, 2012
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
From the Star Ledger: Leading N.J. donor to Sen. Menendez
pleads guilty to making nearly $100K in illegal contributions
By Ted Sherman and Matt Friedman
TRENTON — A leading New Jersey donor to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and others pleaded guilty today to using straw donors to make almost $100,000 in illegal contributions to a federal campaign committee.
Joseph Bigica, 46, a Franklin Lakes insurance broker, also admitted to failing to pay more than $2 million in personal income taxes.
The name of the candidate who benefitted from the illegal donations was not named in federal court filings, but the dates of the contributions were identical to those made to the campaign of Menendez.
The Menendez campaign acknowledged the donations, but said they were a "victim" of Bigica and would give the contributions to charity.
"As a victim of the accused, the Menendez campaign has assisted authorities in pursuit of this case, and now that charges have been filed and a plea entered, Senator Menendez deems it appropriate to take contributions from the accused and donate them to two causes he holds dear: the Alzheimers Association (Greater New Jersey Chapter) and Autism Speaks," said Menendez campaign manager Michael Soliman.
Bigica has been under investigation by the FBI for months, in a probe that was also looking at contributions to municipal officials responsible for awarding millions in insurance contracts managed by Bigica.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said Bigica cheated the United States of millions in taxes, while intentionally skirting campaign finance laws.
“By putting assets and political contributions in the names of others, Bigica spent millions on a luxury lifestyle and illegally funneled nearly $100,000 to a federal campaign while claiming he didn’t have the money to pay his taxes,” he said.
Bigica faces a maximum of three years on the tax count and a maximum of five years on the election law count. He also will have to make restitution of $2 million to the IRS.
Jersey Dem at Risk
New York Post
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Last Updated: 4:09 PM, April 19, 2012
April 12th, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2012
HAMILTON, NJ – When it comes to awarding lucrative contracts to Royal Printing Services of West New York, the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders apparently cannot help itself.
Royal Printing and its long-time connection with former Medford, NJ-based New Frontier political action committee (PAC) have contributed thousands of dollars to current freeholders and County Executive Brian M. Hughes since 2007.
Royal printed the election ballots for Mercer County in 2006 and 2007 and received $218,707 and $240,597, respectively. On May 15, 2006, Lucia Passante, wife of Royal Printing owner Ralph Passante Sr., gave $2,500 to the Mercer County Democratic Committee.
The following month, the all-Democratic Mercer County Freeholder Board hired the company to print the ballots. On May 1, 2007, Royal Printing contributed $2,500 to the New Frontier PAC, which has since been dissolved.
Six days later, New Frontier gave $2,500 to Mr. Hughes’ campaign. On May 10, 2007 the freeholders approved another lucrative contract to Royal Printing.
On February 9 of 2012, Royal Printing was awarded yet another contract by the newly-elected Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders to print election ballots through April of 2014 at a cost of $695,142.16.
Since 1985, records show Royal Printing Services has contributed $267,000 to the Democratic Party.
Mercer County Republican Freeholder candidate James Castelize III today slammed the Freeholders’ continued association with Royal Printing and its pay-to-play ties.
“The Democratic Mercer County Freeholder Board and the County Executive have continuously used their political cronies to line their campaign coffers,’’ Castelize said. “It is time that Mercer County tighten its pay-to-play rules to include PACs and lower the threshold of these contributions to $500 for companies wishing to bid on a county project.’’
Mercer County currently has a pay-to-play ordinance, but it only applies to professional contracts.
Any vendor can contribute up to $2,500 to a campaign fund and still be permitted to bid on any public project. The current Freeholder board, along with embattled Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack, have learned to use PACs to circumvent pay-to-play rules, which has opened the door for companies such as Royal Printing to be awarded contracts year after year. The New Frontier PAC also contributed thousands of dollars to Peter Cammarano, the former Hoboken mayor sentenced to two years in prison in August of 2010 after pleading guilty to extortion conspiracy for accepting $25,000 in illegal campaign contributions offered by an undercover FBI informant posing as a crooked developer.
Although the New Frontier PAC was not named in FBI filings, during the organization’s first three years of operation it raised approximately $119,000 and donated approximately $115,000 of that to Democratic candidates, mostly in Burlington County and South Jersey. At least three donors to New Frontier received contracts from the City of Hoboken, according to public records.
“The residents of Mercer County deserve better than this,’’ Castelize said. “I once again call on the Freeholder board to be open and transparent regarding all of its business dealings.”
Video: Biden and Menendez get their economic advice from Jon Corzine!
Today, Vice President Joe Biden will headline a fundraiser for Senator Bob Menendez at a private residence in Morris Township. In response to this event, the Joe Kyrillos for U.S. Senate campaign released the following internet video:
Governor Chris Christie endorses Joe Kyrillos
Ally of Christie Will Seek U.S. Senate Seat
Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr., a prominent Republican state senator who is a close friend of Gov. Chris Christie, announced on Thursday that he would run in New Jersey this year for the United States Senate, seeking to unseat Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat and a bitter rival of the governor.
The decision by Mr. Kyrillos, a former state party chairman who had been urged to run by Mr. Christie and national Republicans, has the potential to turn the Senate race into a costly contest that will be closely watched nationally.
In a statement, Mr. Kyrillos, who represents Monmouth County, hinted at the themes of his campaign, accusing Mr. Menendez of having helped expand the size of government without doing anything to improve the economy.
“Bob Menendez will offer more of the same: more debt, more spending and more joblessness,” he said. “I will offer real solutions to renew America’s promise.”
Mr. Menendez’s campaign quickly fired back, describing Mr. Kyrillos as “a longtime Trenton insider” who takes the side of “corporations and special interests over working families and older people, and panders to the most extreme elements of Washington Republicans.”
As Mr. Menendez embarks on his campaign, he appears to have his work cut out for him. A poll by Quinnipiac University this month showed that 45 percent of registered voters believed he deserved to win another term, 38 percent did not and 17 percent were undecided.
At least one other Republican, Ian Linker, a lawyer from Bergen County, has also entered the race.
Mr. Menendez, one of the most formidable fund-raisers in Washington, has been stockpiling money in advance of the contest. He has $8.1 million on hand, according to his campaign.
Mr. Kyrillos’s campaign has not released his fund-raising totals and will not have to do so until the end of March. But a Kyrillos adviser said Thursday that the lawmaker expected to raise the money he needed to be competitive.
The race also has the makings of a kind of proxy battle between Mr. Menendez and Mr. Christie, a pugnacious politician who was said to have been looking for months for a candidate to run against the senator.
The two men have had a frosty relationship that dates to 2006, when Mr. Christie, then the United States attorney in Newark, opened an investigation into a nonprofit community agency that paid Mr. Menendez rent at the same time that he was helping the group obtain federal grants.
The investigation became public two months before the November 2006 election, when Mr. Menendez was running for election to the seat to which he had been appointed, leading Democrats to claim that the Christie investigation was politically motivated. The investigation closed without any charges.
Mr. Kyrillos’s political career began in 1988, when he was elected to the State Assembly to represent the 13th District in Monmouth County. In 1992, he was elected for the first time to his current seat in the Senate.
In addition to his work in the State Senate, Mr. Kyrillos, who is married and has two children, is a senior managing director at Colliers International, a commercial real estate services firm. He is also an adviser to Newport Capital Group, a boutique investment firm in Red Bank, N.J.
IN 12TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
BUSINESSMAN ERIC BECK TO CHALLENGE RUSH HOLT