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Beth Mason on handing out Occhipinti loot: ‘I bought a City Council seat. I liked it!’

Councilwoman Beth Mason sent a letter to the Hudson Reporter admitting her intent to break the spirit if not the actual law itself, exceeding the individual maximum contribution limit of $2,600 to Tim Occhipinti.

$8,200 of her still unknown final tally of more than $13,000 was given in stealth-like fashion via her 2007 council campaign committee mere days before the 4th ward election.  On election day, hundreds and hundreds of Tim Occhipinti’s invisible army of ‘campaign workers,’ re: voters lined up to be paid mostly in $40 checks, after handing in evidence of their paper vote by mail ballots.  His campaign attempted to push through over 500 paper ballots in an election where he tallied just over 1200 votes!

It’s notable that Beth Mason’s letter is an obvious admission she unethically sought and then evaded the law on individual maximum contributions.  MSV broke the story of Tim Occhipinti’s ELEC campaign report before the election showing ‘the anomaly,’ (see top) – a mathematical improbability unknown in any voter pattern in the history of the US where ‘campaign workers’ by the dozens all voted by paper ballot and days later almost every single one of them, 79 of 80 were paid!

Beth Mason saw the same ELEC report and could not conclude anything else other than exactly that.  Indeed Beth Mason aided and abetted the massive voter fraud by Tim Occhipinti that soon followed.  Or to put it succinctly, she bought a City Council seat and liked it in an election still under review with multiple criminal referrals. The package was forwarded by the Hudson County prosecutor to the NJ Attorney General’s office shortly after the November election.

Beth Mason’s letter fails to distinguish her spending for her own campaign and circumventing campaign contribution limits to others, which is not the point of the wheeling legislation.

She’s crying victim (again) but it’s the Hoboken people being victimized and as resident Patricia Waiters said at the last City Council meeting – exploited. (The local media ignored Ms. Waiters account of voter fraud at the polls even as the election may still be investigated.)

Beth Mason – proud of wheeling money from her campaign committee for an election not her own.  She calls her family’s contribution evading the law on maximum individual contributions good for Hoboken.  Wheely?  Wheely Mason?

Dear Editor,

Please allow me to respond to last week’s story regarding Councilman Cunningham’s and Councilman Bhalla’s resolution, which was tacked on at the last minute to an ordinance I co-sponsored to strengthen our campaign finance laws. The Cunningham-Bhalla ordinance is not “anti-wheeling”, it’s just “anti-Beth”. As reported this resolution specifically targeted me and my ability to use my own money when running for office. Why? Because in last November’s election I supported Councilman Tim Occhipinti over their and Mayor Zimmer’s ally, Michael Lenz, for City Council.

I supported Tim because he is a bright new leader who represents a philosophical and generational change from the politics of old. Mr. Lenz on the other hand exemplified anything but good government … Reducing the burden on Hoboken’s taxpayers, in the Second Ward and elsewhere, is my number one goal, which Mr. Lenz obviously did not share.

My family and I were proud to contribute $13,000 of our hard-earned money to Councilman Occhipinti’s campaign, as were others; in fact, he raised almost six times the amount we contributed, from other people. Councilman Bhalla called my contribution the catalyst for his ordinance but in 2009 Mayor Zimmer contributed … her own money to Council members Bhalla, Marsh, and Mello during their Council-at-Large campaign. That was not illegal and was the Mayor’s right to do so with her own money, but it underscores the double standard on display.

Mayor Zimmer announced her support of the Cunningham-Bhalla ordinance by saying that it will limit the influence of outside contributors on Hoboken political races. But, among its other faults, this is exactly the opposite of what the ordinance actually says. The ordinance prohibits self-funding Hoboken candidate committees, such as mine, from contributing more than $500 to other candidates. But it leaves a gaping hole for developers and other outsiders to donate thousands of dollars to Hoboken candidate committees such as hers, with no corresponding $500 limit on her committee’s ability to contribute to the people she favors. This is the very essence of “wheeling”, which the Cunningham-Bhalla ordinance does nothing to stop. Instead, it targets people like me, who are willing to use our own resources to fight for Hoboken residents and taxpayers, and magnifies the influence of non-Hoboken money.

When crafting legislation there must be a higher standard than “how can I hurt people I disagree with today?” If Councilmen Cunningham and Bhalla are serious about campaign finance reform, an issue that they seem to have come to only recently, then I am happy to sit down and work with them on legislation that works for the entire community, and does not just target my family and other Hoboken residents who are not their best friends.

Councilwoman Beth Mason

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