Mayor Zimmer jams spoke in wheeling, questions veracity of Mason-Russo axis
Office of the Mayor announces:
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR ZIMMER ON ANTI-WHEELING LEGISLATION & FALSE STATEMENTS MADE AT COUNCIL MEETING
Last night the “new majority” of the City Council cast their votes to oppose legislation that would have stopped the practice of wheeling which has corrupted Hoboken’s electoral process. Put simply, wheeling is the practice of laundering contributions through campaign committees to circumvent campaign finance or pay to play laws. The law sponsored by Councilman Cunningham was modeled on an ordinance passed four years ago in Atlantic County. Six other jurisdictions in New Jersey have followed Atlantic County’s lead, and the legality of Atlantic County’s statute has never been called into question in the almost four years that it has been in effect.
While Hoboken has a strong pay to play ordinance that has successfully kept out direct contributions to candidates from vendors and redevelopers, it has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars instead flowing indirectly through PACs outside of Hoboken. This money corrupts our electoral process, and anti-wheeling legislation is crucial if we hope to have truly transparent and fair elections in our City.
The meeting was noteworthy not just due to this unfortunate and inexplicable vote, but due to the efforts of the Council President to stop Councilman Cunningham from even explaining the legislation to the public before it was voted down.
Not a single Councilperson opposing this legislation provided a substantive reason for their position. Instead two Council members, Council President Mason, and Council Vice President Russo attempted to distract the public’s attention from this critical issue by making malicious and false allegations against me. Councilman Russo asserted falsely that I had received a campaign contribution from County Executive Tom DeGise that I had “wheeled” to former Councilman Michael Lenz in the last election. This claim, which was also made on a Facebook page by a member of an editorial board of a local newspaper, is a figment of Mr. Russo’s imagination.
Councilwoman Mason falsely asserted that I had received “thousands of dollars” in campaign contributions from a committee that had received money from the government informant who bribed Peter Cammarano. This too is a malicious and untrue statement completely made up to divert attention from the real issues raised by the wheeling of money into Hoboken political campaigns.
While Councilwoman Mason and Councilman Russo are fully aware that their allegations are untrue, the ironic thing is that if they were true, they would be compelling arguments for passing the anti-wheeling legislation, not for voting it down.
I urge Councilwoman Mason and Councilman Russo to issue an immediate public apology to me, County Executive Tom DeGise and former Councilman Michael Lenz for their knowingly false and defamatory statements.
I ask all of the City Council members to reflect upon this very serious issue and move forward with this critical legislation which will ensure that Hoboken elections are decided by the people of Hoboken, not by developers, wealthy individuals, or political machines.