Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ELEC Forgets other Mason 2009 "Clerical Errors"


Well folks, the Jersey Journal has weighed in on the historic "$2M" fine which "could" be owed by  Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason for ELEC reporting violations in her 2009 and 2011campaigns.

GA notes this quote from ELEC:
Which seems to be at odds with this quote from Mason's attorney, Rajiv Parikh:
"In our firm's experience, it's clear that the fine structure is not meant to be punitive in nature," he said. 
GA will stick with ELEC's position, that fines are punitive, to those who "totally ignore the law."

Does having contempt for the law count?  If so, the Mason campaigns' have got it in spades.

Because inexplicably, ELEC declined to note numerous other violations in the Mason Team for One Hoboken 20-Day Post Election ELEC report which for some reason, did not get addressed in the complaints.


 
Starting with "totally ignoring the law", how about NJ statute 19:44A-11.7
"...efforts directly to promote or encourage the participation of voters in an election, including but not limited to payments made to campaign workers and payments to other individuals which are intended for further transfer to election-day workers or other ultimate payees, shall be made by check payable to such named individual, and no such payment shall be made in currency."
Get it?  NJ statute 19:44A-11.7 prohibits checks made out to "cash".

Oooops!  See how many times that "clerical error" was made on the same ELEC report that contains hundreds of  late-reporting violations:


Back to"totally ignoring the law", what about ELEC's own Candidate Compliance Manual (page30):
 Street money must be paid by check to the individual who actually performs the services. In the event that a campaign makes payment to a vendor, group, or association for the purpose of making street money disbursements, the candidate committee, or joint candidates committee retains responsibility for reporting the identity of each individual who receives any street money payment from the vendor, group, or association. The payment to the vendor, group, or association must be made by check. Every street money expenditure must be reported as follows:
So, on top of "late reporting" (ELEC complaint) and paying "street workers" in checks made to "cash" (ignored by ELEC)...

Here is the next "clerical error" made by Mason Team for One Hoboken 20-Day Post Election ELEC report: multiple individuals being paid off the same check:



So, while GA applauds ELEC for enforcing election reporting law, I wonder why they did not go 'all the way'?

The Mason ELEC complaints demonstrate to the rest of New Jersey's political world that the Election Law Enforcement Commission is not a toothless organization and does enforce the law. So why then, ignore this mountain of abuses- checks made out to "cash" and multiple parties splitting a single check- in the same report for which it charges late-reporting violations?

GA asks ELEC either to amend their 2009 complaint or file a third complaint for  Mason Team for One Hoboken's numerous violations.

It sends the wrong message to selectively enforce the law.

GA urges ELEC to consider ALL "reporting transactions"made by Mason Team for One Hoboken,  not just some, because indeed this campaign  has "ignored the law"... so many violations in a single report cannot be dismissed as "clerical errors".

-Joe Donohue, ELEC deputy director. 

2 comments:

  1. GA - the checks made out to "cash" and the "multiple parties paid with the same check" are the same issue. Mason explained that the reporting of illegal cash payments was a "clerical error." The error, apparently was only in incorrectly characterizing her illegal activity. She explained that the items reported as illegal cash payments should instead have been characterized as checks illegally paid to third parties who then distributed illegal cash payments to the people for whom the money was intended.

    It is remarkable that ELEC, once they are filing a complaint anyway, would choose not to include this since it every bit as flagrant a violation as the late filing. The only thing I can think of is that they are focused on late filing to deter others from filing late, while the third party check violation is not a problem they regularly encounter. Mason purports to disclose who got the money (or at least who it was intended for) and they don't think they will see this kind of violation (that they probably have never seen before because it's so insanely stupid and unnecessary) again anyway so they don't care about it.

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    Replies
    1. Not exactly. Yes, all the "cash" references on the Mason Ledger reference "Attachment 1", which shows the breakdown of multiple parties. So the documents 'talk to each other'- all of the checks Mason made out to "cash" are to multiple parties. But they are two different violations.

      A check may be written out to a person's name to be split by multiple parties- that's one violation, see:

      http://hoboken.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/beth-mason-denies-campaign-finance-misconduct-allegations

      A check written to "cash" whether to one or more campaign workers- that is another violation. Mason has done both- her checks to "cash" are for multiple parties.

      How ELEC would break them out is anyone's guess. They may call each payment to an individual off a check made out to "cash" a reporting transaction.

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