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Lenz to Occhipinti on State AG coming to Hoboken: ‘Bring it!’

Lenz for Council announces:

HOBOKEN COUNCILMAN MIKE LENZ AND HIS CAMPAIGN CALL FOR AG OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATION INTO VOTER INTIMIDATION AND VOTE BY MAIL FRAUD

First of all, we welcome Tim Occhipinti to the Clean Campaign discussion. For nearly a month we have been talking about the importance of signing a Pledge promising a clean campaign that respects the voters. Tim Occhipinti has continually refused to sign and has described our call for a clean campaign as “silliness” that “doesn’t deserve a response.” The reasons given by Mr. Occhipinti for his request that the AG’s office supervise the election are inaccurate and misleading. He is apparently troubled that Hoboken’s Mayor Dawn Zimmer has endorsed Mike Lenz, claiming this will somehow make the election unfair. Mayors routinely endorse candidates in local elections and special elections are run entirely through the Hudson County Board of Elections and not through City Hall.

Nevertheless, for far different and more compelling reasons, we fully support oversight by the Attorney General’s office of the upcoming 4th ward election.

The Mike Lenz for City Council campaign is also sending a letter to the Attorney General’s Office to encourage their involvement in the 4th Ward Election. In the 2007 4th Ward race between Dawn Zimmer and Chris Campos, Attorney General oversight prevented numerous non-4th ward residents from voting illegally and it is important to ensure that non-residents are not permitted to illegally vote in this Election. Additionally, since 2 of our last 3 mayors have been convicted of corruption and our last Mayor, Peter Cammarano, recently plead guilty to taking bribes as part of his campaign, the voters of the 4th Ward deserve an Election without even the appearance of illegal activities.

We also call on the AG to expand the investigation to cover the tactics used by the Occhipinti campaign in the solicitation of Vote by Mail ballots, including an investigation into reports of the widespread use of forged signatures on Vote by Mail request forms, payment of workers connected to whether they vote or not, payment of workers connected to whether they turn over their VBM to campaign workers sealed or unsealed, payment of election workers by outside groups not reported on ELEC forms, voter intimidation to ‘collect’ the VBM ballot from voters without proper use of bearers, voter intimidation by having the voter fill out the VBM ballot in the presence of campaign staff, and widespread chain of custody issues once the Occhipinti campaign has the VBM ballot in their possession.

Once again, we are glad that maintaining a free and fair election has finally become an interest of the Occhipinti campaign and we call on them to sign the clean campaign pledge. The voters of the 4th Ward deserve to have a fair and open election and Mr. Occhipinti can demonstrate his commitment by signing the pledge.

A letter from Mike Lenz follows:

October 15, 2010
Paula Dow
Attorney General
25 Market Street
Trenton, NJ 08625

Dear Ms. Dow,

I am currently the City Councilman representing Hoboken’s 4th Ward, and I am running for re-election in a special election on November 2nd. My opponent in that election, Tim Occhipinti, has sent you a letter requesting that your office intervene to oversee the election process. The reasons given by Mr. Occhipinti for his request – including the fact that Hoboken’s Mayor Dawn Zimmer has endorsed my candidacy – border on the absurd. Nevertheless, for far different and more compelling reasons, I fully support oversight by your office of the upcoming 4th ward election.

Over the years, Hoboken’s 4th Ward has been plagued by allegations of election fraud. At the polls, numerous non-residents are believed to cast illegal ballots. As many as 600 voters are typically hired as paid Election Day workers for an election in which less than 2000 votes are cast, raising questions as to whether people are being paid for their votes. Throughout many previous elections, large numbers of what was once called Absentee and now are Vote by Mail (VBM) ballot applications have been requested with signatures that do not match the voter’s. Organized VBM ballot campaigns have raised questions about whether the VBM process has been abused. We respectfully ask for your office to investigate solicitation of VBM ballots, including an investigation into reports of the widespread use of forged signatures on VBM request forms, payment of workers connected to whether they vote of not, payment of workers connected to whether they turn in their VBM sealed or unsealed, payment of election workers by outside groups not reported on ELEC forms, voter intimidation to ‘collect’ the VBM ballot from voters without proper use of bearers, voter intimidation by having the voter fill out the VBM ballot in the presence of campaign staff, and widespread chain of custody issues once the Occhipinti campaign has the VBM ballot in their possession.

There is reason to believe that these tactics are being employed by Mr. Occhipinti’s campaign. Perry Belfiore, a well known Occhipinti supporter and organizer was even quoted in the press as saying that Vote by Mail ballots were necessary in November elections because voters needed help navigating the “noise” on the ballot. Needless to say, it is not legal for a campaign worker to help a voter ‘navigate’ the ballot to ensure that the vote is cast the ‘right’ way.

In November 2007, a special election was held under the supervision of your office, and it is widely considered to be the most honest election held in Hoboken’s 4th Ward in a long time. I strongly urge that your office step forward once again to ensure that the voters of Hoboken’s 4th Ward receive the honest and fair election to which they are entitled.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mike Lenz

City of Hoboken

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