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Funny Money, Part 5: Mayor Cahill Used Campaign Funds to Pay for Funeral of Man Killed by NBPD

Regulations Allow Candidates to Spend Campaign Cash on Virtually Anything From International Travel to Sports Tickets
Mayor James Cahill
New Brunswick's Mayor since 1991, James Cahill has raised and spent millions on his campaigns. City of New Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—While the mayor of 21 years hasn't yet announced whether he will seek a seventh-term in the city's highest office in 2014, that hasn't kept him from raising funds for the campaign already.

Cahill filed with New Jersey's Election Law Enforcement Commision (ELEC) to declare contributions towards his 2014 campaign for the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Cahill's election fund usually doles out money to other candidates, or teams of candidates, including his own team, which includes newly-elected Councilmembers Kevin Egan and Rebecca Escobar.

Rules about how he can spend the money are exceptionally vague, permitting the fund to spend on any "ordinary or necessary expenses of holding public office."

As a result Cahill has used the fund for his own international travel, to partly pay for the funeral of a man shot to death by city police, and to make various donations to charities and cultural organizations.

Friends of Jim Cahill, the official political committee of the mayor, recently filed its most recent paperwork with ELEC just last week.  The document indicates no new donations to the fund, but thousands in expenditures.

For the first quarter of 2012, Message & Media, a political strategy firm earned $6,000 in consulting fees from the mayor's fund, the most of any payee.

The firm is based in New Brunswick's Albany Street Plaza.  Its website proudly displays print and television advertisements the group has put together for US Senator Robert Menendez, Governor Jon Corzine, and New Brunswick's Congressman Frank Pallone.

The firm was even contracted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to produce an ad attacking Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell.

The Message & Media website makes no mention of their work on Cahill's campaign, though they tout ads produced for Newark Mayor Cory Booker's re-election

A fundraiser for paralyzed Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand came in second place with $1,406 from the mayor.

The West Orange firm of Arleo & Donohue was paid $1,000 for "legal services" according to the filing.

Cahill himself was paid $781.25 to reimburse his own travel expenses from nearly three years ago.

Other recipients of Friends of Jim Cahill's money in this report included the NBHS Athletic Hall of Fame, the NBHS Trust Fund, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and the George Street Playhouse, where Cahill's fund bought season tickets and gave an additional donation of $750.

Also, two Verizon cell phone bills were paid by the fund, and hundreds of dollars were spent on "meetings" at various city restaurants including Hansel 'n Griddle, Business Bistro, Daryl Wine Bar, Christopher's, and Sahara.

The fund also spent just under $20 on office supplies at the North Brunswick Barnes & Noble.

Despite spending $12,493 this quarter while pulling in nearly nothing, the fund still has $22,490 remaining.

In the prior report, Friends of Jim Cahill indicated that it raised $133,572, but spent $97,738.50 of it.

ELECTION FUNDS CAN BE SPENT ON ALMOST ANYTHING

On October 6, 2011, the fund paid $1,000 to Anderson Funeral Service for the funeral of Barry Deloatch, a 47-year-old city resident shot and killed by New Brunswick Police Officer Brad Berdel, who had donated $250 to the fund just six months prior.

On the report, it listed the expense as "constitutent funeral services."

Just 15 days later, the fund chipped in $60 for Pete Mangarella's retirement party.  Mangarella briefly served as police director before he retired and Cahill re-hired Anthony Caputo, Mangarella's predacessor.

In the past, Cahill's fund has contributed funds to the retirement parties of Caputo as well as Patti Egan, a city worker who retired in early 2011.

Deloatch was unarmed, and witnesses said he was running away from officers.  Daily protests began targeting Cahill and calling for the jobs of the officers involved.  The case is currently before a Middlesex County grand jury.

At a tense community forum held at Ebeneezer Baptist Church on October 4, 2011, Cahill was at first hesitant when asked to pay for Deloatch's funeral.  After he was asked by Tormel Pittman to "Pay for the funeral, pay for the funeral, and pay for the funeral," he moved on to the next speaker without addressing the question.

A woman rose at the forum almost an hour later, asking Cahill "Will you help bury this young man who needs to be buried?"

"Me, personally?" the mayor responded.

"Will you or your officers -- anybody?  We're out here trying to raise money to bury this young man," she shot back.

"I'll be glad to be a part of that process," he said.

CITY WORKERS GET PAID FOR "CAMPAIGN ASSISTANCE"

Aside from the funeral, most of Friends of Jim Cahill's expenditures were on par with other reports they had filed in prior years.  Almost $3,000 was spent on a holiday party, in addition to nearly the same amount on a holiday fundraiser.

Again, Arleo & Donohue appear on the report as recieving $1,000 for legal services.  And Message & Media was paid $3,000 for consulting services.  The fund also reimbursed Cahill $596.66 for his travel expenses from the second-half of 2008.

Various charities, both local and national, received a portion of the funds, including the Salvation Army, the National Medical Association, and Central Jersey CDC, a nonprofit started by the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset.

But there were some curious payments, including ones to four employees of the mayor's office, who were each paid $1,000 for "campaign assistance" even though there was no campaign in 2011.

Kevin Jones, a longtime aide to Cahill who has consistently supported his political campaigns received an extra grand from Friends of Jim Cahill in addition to his $59,788 salary paid by city taxpayers.

In the past, Jones and another employee of the Mayor's Office, Bill Bray, frequently received payments like these for assisting with Cahill's campaigns in their free time.

Bray, a resident and former Councilman in Warren County's Oxford Township resigned his position in December to take a job in the private sector.

Additionally, two of the mayor's secretaries, Judi Smith, of Monmouth Junction, and Leslie Zeledon, of New Brunswick, each got similar payouts for "campaign assistance" in recent years.

Two days before Christmas 2010, Bray, Jones, and Smith each got the usual $1,000 for helping out with Cahill's re-election.  Zeledon, who now serves as Assitant City Clerk, earned $500 for her assistance.

Cahill makes just $40,000 as Mayor, but earned more than three times that as "general counsel" at the Middlesex County Joint Health Insurance Fund.

EXPENDITURES FOR "MEETINGS" UNDER SCRUTINY

New Jersey's Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) is hoping the state legislature will pass stricter disclosure rules for how candidates spend their money on meetings, according to a report on PolitickerNJ.com.

"Specifically, candidates who spend campaign funds on dinners or other meetings should be required to maintain records and disclose details about who attended the event, what was purchased, and why they consider the expense 'ordinary and necessary,'" the agency said in it's annual report.

Indeed, some of the least descriptive expenditures on Cahill's election paperwork are meetings, which usually only reveal the establishment that hosted or catered the meeting.

$217 at Steakhouse 85 on December 17, 2010.  $198 at Business Bistro on January 26, 2011.  $91.61 at Hansel 'n Griddle the same day.  Another $200 at Steakhouse 85 five days later.  That's pretty much all that Cahill reports.  No telling who was at the meetings or what was discussed.

But at least one entry tells a little more about the meeting.  On August 19, 2009, Friends of Jim Cahill paid SAVE, LLC $723.15 to host an "Urban Mayors Meeting."

SAVE, LLC is one of 46 New Jersey limited liability corporations run by real estate developer Robert Paulus, of Colts Neck.  Paulus is the owner of Wick Enterprises, based in Woodbridge.  His companies own several major shopping plazas and industrial parks across Middlesex County.

SAVE, LLC was used to assemble the land that would become New Brunswick's warehouse schools on Van Dyke Avenue.  Paulus' other limited liability companies lease the buildings as temporary schools and also helped to buy up land for the Lord Stirling Community School.

Paulus' firm Earo, LLC has been involved in efforts to bring another waste transfer station to New Brunswick, not far from the warehouse schools.

SAVE came into existence in 2003, but in 2010 filed a new "associated name" with the state: Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant.  Paulus is one of the partners in the restaurant located on the ground floor of The Heldrich, which closed for several months and only recently re-opened.

That could explain the payout for the Urban Mayors Meeting.  But the payment was made a year earlier in August 2009, and another entry in the same report lists a payout to "Daryl" at 302 George Street just two months earlier.

Where was the "Urban Mayors Meeting" held?  Which Mayors were there?  Who else was there?  And what did SAVE, LLC do to earn that $723?  We may never know for sure.

Paulus did not return multiple calls asking about the LLC.  Cahill's spokesman Russell Marchetta said he would get back to NewBrunswickToday.com with more information about the meeting.

Paulus gave Friends of Jim Cahill $2,000 in October 2008.  Wick Companies LLC and Wick Shopping Center Limited each gave $500 to Friends of Jim Cahill in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

Paulus and his many companies also donated thousands to the political action committees that have come under scrutiny for circumventing pay-to-play reform laws.

CAHILL'S FUND BOLSTERS OTHER CAMPAIGNS, TOO

On Cahill's reports filed with ELEC, there are a handful of transfers to other candidates or political organizations.  As one would expect, Cahill regularly throws modest but meaningful contributions to county, state and federal officials that represent New Brunswick, as well as to the NBDO and the MCDO.

And, aside from NJ Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula's check being sent to an address in Hackensack, nothing is out of the ordinary with those donations.  Chivikula lives in Franklin Township, and represents that town, as well as New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Milltown, and Piscataway int he state legislature.

But, there are some other interesting candidates that received financial support from Mayor Jim Cahill, beginning with his own spokesman.

Bill Bray served as Cahill's official spokesman for seven years until he left the administration last December.  Bray lives in Oxford Township, about an hour from New Brunswick, in Warren County.

In 2007, Bray won a seat on the Township Committee in Oxford without even having his name on the ballot.  A candidate committee named "Write-In Bill Bray For Oxford Township Committee" recieved a $300 donation from Friends of Jim Cahill on Oct. 30, 2007.

Just a few days later, Bray defeated both the Democrat and Republican in the race 196-188-180.  He served one term on the Committee, where he developed a reputation for being argumentative and hot-tempered.  Three years later, he opted not to seek re-election.

In 2008, Cahill's fund sent $200 to a campaign committee called "Alaskans for Begich Exploratory Committee," a fund set up for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich's campaign for US Senate.  Oddly, the address for the exploratory committee was listed on the filings as 916 E. Lincoln Avenue in Piscataway.

Begich, a Democrat, won and continues to serve as one of Alaska's two US Senators.

AN ARMY OF CAMPAIGN WORKERS

Even Jim Cahill's closest allies and supporters got paid to participate in his 2010 re-election campaign, when he faced a challenge from local attorney Patricia Bombelyn.

People like Mitch Karon, who must have had the day off from his usual job, running the city's parking authority.  He was paid a cool $100 for his campaigning that day.  The authority's chairman Kevin McTernan was also paid the same amount.

It's all in the reports of "Cahill, Egan, & Escobar 2010," a candidate committee formed for the three, which took much of its money from Friends of Jim Cahill and from the election fund of Egan's father, Joseph, a state Assemblyman.

The Cahill team employed a veritable army of campaign workers, including city department directors, democratic committee members, and some individuals who hailed from other communities including Beachwood, Kendall Park, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

In total, the team spent more than $15,000 to pay over 140 individuals to assist with the campaign.  Their opponents employed about half as many individuals in the days leading up to the June 6, 2010 election, and paid them 40-50% less than Cahill's campaign.

Here is a list of all of payouts above $100 for "campaign workers" or "election day workers" made by Cahill, Egan & Escobar 2010:

(Current and former Democratic party officials, as well as city employees are in bold)

NAME TOWN $$$
Paige Dennis Kendall Park $456
William Ortiz New Brunswick $400
Paige Dennis Kendall Park $372
Ryan Yost Beachwood $344
Luis Berrios New Brunswick $125
Jackie Orr New Brunswick $125
Rosie Jones New Brunswick $125
Dennis Gregory New Brunswick $125
Mark Finklestein New Brunswick $125
Suzanne Sicora New Brunswick $125
Robert Colona (Planning Bd. Chair) New Brunswick $125
Colleen Jones New Brunswick $125
Jimmie Cook, Jr. (City Councilman) New Brunswick $125
Stephanie Stewart New Brunswick $125
Edward Spencer (Board of Ed.) New Brunswick $125
Renee Spencer New Brunswick $125
Sheila Samuel New Brunswick $125
Americo Lopez New Brunswick $125
Charles Walker New Brunswick $125
Willie Weaver New Brunswick $125
Victor Ortiz New Brunswick $125
Tom Valenti New Brunswick $125
Carmen Auciello New Brunswick $125
Peter Ventrice New Brunswick $125
Mary Elizabeth Ventrice New Brunswick $125
John J. Daniel New Brunswick $125
Elise Daniel New Brunswick $125
Joseph A. Catanese New Brunswick $125
Angie Puleio New Brunswick $125
Cheryl Smith (NBDO Vice Chair) New Brunswick $125
Leslie McMullan New Brunswick $125
James L. Campbell New Brunswick $125
Gloria O'Hara New Brunswick $125
Christopher Butler New Brunswick $125
Deborah Celey New Brunswick $125
Bill Schrum New Brunswick $125
William Borke New Brunswick $125
Michael Drulis New Brunswick $125
Kevin Jones New Brunswick $125
Theodore A. Lankay Bethlehem, PA $100
Amanda Green New Brunswick $100
Ashley Blackwell New Brunswick $100
Bobby Virgil New Brunswick $100
Shane Sternberg Bethlehem, PA $100
Katelyn Derewecki New Brunswick $100
Jennifer Rooney New Brunswick $100
Dwayne Malave New Brunswick $100
Joseph Picone Edison $100
Kristina Lembo Middlesex $100
Jonathan Ortiz New Brunswick $100
Bobby Deleon New Brunswick $100
Enrique Montanez Piscataway $100
Michael Cimilluca Edison $100
Paul M. Burricelli New Brunswick $100
Carmen Battista New Brunswick $100
Jose Lopez North Brunswick $100
Renaldo Brave Vasquez New Brunswick $100
Carmen Rivera New Brunswick $100
Carmen Lopez New Brunswick $100
Helen Labos New Brunswick $100
Anthony Jones New Brunswick $100
Kaitlyn Cox New Brunswick $100
Shamar Spencer New Brunswick $100
Delores Walker New Brunswick $100
Chris Newcomb Not Reported $100
Heather Harvat New Brunswick $100
Andrea Eato New Brunswick $100
Maria Martinez Not Reported $100
David Gomez New Brunswick $100
Christina Rodriguez Not Reported $100
Janine Valenti New Brunswick $100
Rusty Flores New Brunswick $100
Sandra Donahue New Brunswick $100
Debbie Previte New Brunswick $100
Antoine Johnson New Brunswick $100
Chris Ryan New Brunswick $100
Mitchell Karon (NBPA Exec. Dir.) New Brunswick $100
Cosmo Santangelo New Brunswick $100
Krisztina Pataki New Brunswick $100
Rocco Catanese New Brunswick $100
Michael Millan New Brunswick $100
Adam Kormondy New Brunswick $100
Kevin McTernan (NBPA Chairman) New Brunswick $100
Clary Azcona New Brunswick $100
Michael Ross New Brunswick $100
Glen Fleming (City Council candidate) New Brunswick $100
Robert Rawls (Fire Director) New Brunswick $100
Stacey Bell New Brunswick $100
Bobby Zimmerman New Brunswick $100
Dean Wournel New Brunswick $100
Raul Torres New Brunswick $100
Jonathan Hall New Brunswick $100
Earl Holden New Brunswick $100
Alfredo Matias New Brunswick $100
Stephen Leonardis New Brunswick $100
Jose Lopez New Brunswick $100
Martin Cotto New Brunswick $100
Anna Cotto New Brunswick $100
Rafaela Torres New Brunswick $100
Maria Cotto New Brunswick $100
Dakita Hamlet New Brunswick $100
Jose Cotto New Brunswick $100
Brian Ortiz New Brunswick $100
Heliberto Lira New Brunswick $100
Roxann Childs Not Reported $100
Willie Booker Not Reported $100
Irvin Kelton Not Reported $100
Kenneth Woods Not Reported $100
Walter Vergil Not Reported $100
Lulda Reyes Not Reported $100
Manuel Matias Not Reported $100
Antonio Matias Not Reported $100
Donna Boatwright Not Reported $100
Cristal Maxine Martinez New Brunswick $100
Shawn L. Thomas New Brunswick $100
Tomas Valle New Brunswick $100
James Foster Not Reported $100
Gersham Middleton Not Reported $100
Elnora Douglas Not Reported $100
Anthony Collins Not Reported $100
Rhonda Braxton Not Reported $100
Todd Harris Not Reported $100
Kenneth Capru Not Reported $100
Kennthan Jackson Not Reported $100
Matthew Stewart Not Reported $100
Carol Drew Not Reported $100
Anthony Jones Not Reported $100
William Pfiefer Not Reported $100
Doug Petix (Finance Director) Not Reported $100

Additionally, roughly a dozen campaign workers were paid $50 for their work, including city Recreation Director Michael Blackwell.

Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a seven-part series.

Funny Money, Part 6: New Brunswick Political Appointee "Likely" Under Investigation For $31K That Went Missing