By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Such is the case with Joseph Parisi, the Mayor of Englewood Cliffs, who landed in the newspapers this summer for his role in the construction of a 143 foot LG Electronics office tower that managed to anger both the Right and the Left (four former NJ governors penned a joint NYT op-ed slamming the project – unprecedented stuff) as well as raise serious conflict of interest questions. And this isn’t the first time that Parisi has faced ethical scrutiny from the public.
Now local Republicans are accusing Democrats of violating ELEC regulations when the municipality mailed this letter to residents.
Englewood Cliffs GOP Chairwoman Carrol McMorrow is alleging that the letter, which informs the recipients of road improvements while prominently featuring council members Gloria Oh’s and Edward Aversa’s respective names, “appears to be a clear violation of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission’s rule prohibiting taxpayer-funded mailings promoting elected officials within 90 days of an election.”
She wants Parisi and his cohorts to reimburse the taxpayers.
“Parisi, Aversa, Oh and their political machine are already under investigation by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission for at least two dozen possible violations of Election Law that occurred in recent years,” continued McMorrow. “Sending this letter, which uses tax dollars to give credit to Aversa and Oh, not only violates the law, but wastes taxpayer dollars to distort the truth. Republicans and Democrats on the council unanimously voted to authorize road improvements, a crucial fact that was missed by Parisi’s dubious attempts to promote his party’s candidates.”
I did a little research (I don’t pretend to be an expert) and ELEC’s manual says only that government newsletters “may contain political communications reportable to the candidate from the governmental agency.” The summary points to N.J.A.C.19:25-10.9(c) for elaboration:
(c) Nothing contained in (b) above shall be construed to require reporting of a
communication by an incumbent officeholder seeking reelection if the communication is in
writing and is made to a constituent in direct response to a prior communication received from that constituent, if it is circulated or broadcast for the sole and limited purpose of communicating governmental events requiring constituents to make applications or take other actions before the date of the upcoming election, or if it is circulated or broadcast to constituents for the sole and limited purpose of communicating facts relevant to a bona fide public emergency.
There might be an opinion on point or another applicable regulation. Not sure. You be the judge. Either way, as far as Englewood Cliffs is concerned, you’d have to think residents are getting tired of the endless parade of ethical questions year after year? Right?