Just following orders

Former James E. McGreevey spokesman Paul Aronsohn is quite clever. By delaying the official formation of an Aronsohn for Congress campaign committee until late December, he avoids having to disclose exactly how much money he has raised, and the identity of his donors, until April. On the record, Aronsohn cryptically claims to have raised between $120,000 and $130,000. He won’t say how much he has spent (or on what) and he declines to reveal how much money he has on hand right now. Aronsohn’s primary rival, ’04 nominee Dorothea Anne Wolfe, dropped out of the race in late January — largely because she didn’t feel her own $86,000 warchest would be sufficient to wrestle the nomination from Aronsohn. Before she dropped out of the race, Wolfe filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Aronsohn had spent more than the allowable $5,000 on his exploratory committee. Because Aronsohn has refused to release detailed campaign expenditures, a potential primary rival would have to wait until April — after party organizations have selected their candidates — to see if he spent more than the amount permitted. A Republican strategist told PoliticsNJ.com that it is unlikely that Aronsohn could have raised more than $100,000, set up a campaign website, hired consultants, and traveled numerous times to Washington for under $5,000. While Aronsohn may be legally correct in his plan to spend a year “testing the waters” for a challenge to two-term Republican Congressman Scott Garrett, some pundits argue that the man who was the paid mouthpiece for the McGreevey administration — it was Aronsohn who defended the hiring of Israeli poet Golan Cipel as the Governor’s Homeland Security advisor — lacks the luxury of playing cute with the facts. Aronsohn has argued that he was just following orders and that his defense of McGreevey and Cipel is not a reflection on him, although the claim that Aronsohn remains elusive with answers to reporter questions appears to be a valid complaint. One Trenton Democrat suggests that Aronsohn can help himself avoid references to his McGreevey media style by going out of his way to assure voters that he will not parse his words as a candidate for Congress.

Just following orders