Folks, are you starting to wonder whether magic hands have muzzled the Jersey Journal and Star Ledger?
So far neither media outlet has spilled cyber-ink on historic ELEC violations charged to the 2009 and 2011 campaigns of Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason.
The Star Ledger took a two-by-four and whacked 'ole Brian with this coverage of his "historic fine"...BANG!
The fine levied was $68,725, but could be lowered to $55,000 if the campaign committee meets the payment schedule outlined in the consent order. The fine is tied for the sixth-highest ever issued by ELEC, according to commission spokesman Joseph Donohue.
The Star Ledger even reminded us that Stack's committee has a "$50,000 unpaid bill at Dunkin’ Donuts", which unleashed a torrent of sniggers throughout Hudson County.
It's too soon to conclude our Fourth Estate's been gagged with a fistful of Benjamins. But when it comes to Mayor Zimmer, the Star Ledger spared no effort to dust off an ancient, frothing-at-the-mouth, Zimmer-hating lunatic to publish allegations were they true would implicate her in a conspiracy of silence to cover VBM fraud.
GA was thinking about the expenses the ELEC complaints' Respondents (the Accused) are facing. Not just fines, but steep legal costs. Yep, each Respondent needs to obtain a lawyer. A decent one will take the case with a $15K retainer, the whole she-bang could end up at $25K- that's without filing an appeal.
A (good) lawyer can be expected to (successfully) negotiate down fines for their Client. So, let's say ELEC reduces fines down an extraordinary 90% (and who's to say they will). Based on estimated penalties, Respondents could still be liable for:
Projected ELEC Fines if Reduced by 90%
Beth Mason: $264,006
Ines Garcia Keim: $214,366
Richard G. Mason: $ 96,560_____
GRAND TOTAL: $1,437,840
Wow, that plus attorney's fees... those are extraordinary costs for regular folks lacking Mason's bank account. Those fines are like a second mortgage. In my opinion, the only decent thing would be for the Masons to cover expenses for the Respondents. Of course, such gifts are subject to the imposition of federal gift tax. IRS Information and forms for Gift Taxes can be found in IRS Publication 950.
According to the IRS, the donor is generally responsible for paying the gift tax. Under special arrangements the donee may agree to pay the tax instead. What is considered a gift? Any transfer to an individual, either directly or indirectly, where full consideration (measured in money or money's worth) is not received in return.
GA believes even negotiated downward, the ELEC grand total will stay at 7-figures.
Those Respondents would have been better off named in a meritless SLAPP suit.