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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)
|Paige Dennis||Kendall Park||$456|
|William Ortiz||New Brunswick||$400|
|Paige Dennis||Kendall Park||$372|
|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|
|Jonathan Ortiz||New Brunswick||$100|
|Bobby Deleon||New Brunswick||$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.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.