A Republican incumbent in New Jersey’s Lumberton Township dropped out of the race this week as he and fellow municipal Republicans faced scrutiny for illegally sharing campaign contributions. Mike Dinneen, who would have gone up for reelection against Democrat Terrance P. Benson to keep his seat on the township committee, now faces an official complaint to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission from his would-be opponent.
Dinneen said in a statement Monday that he intends to finish out his term on the committee, and said he wishes the best for his successor.
“It’s been an honor to work with so many great employees and first responders here in Lumberton, and whomever joins the committee in 2017, whether it be a Democrat or Republican, has my full support and well wishes,” Dinneen said Monday in a statement.
That complaint alleges that Dinneen and his fellow Republican committee members illegally pooled their campaign cash, transferring funds between their respective committees in excess of state candidate-to-candidate contribution limits.
Benson issued a statement on Tuesday promising voters reforms to city government in the wake of Dinneen’s decision not to pursue reelection.
“These kind of old-guard, backroom political dealings only deepen the public’s distrust in the politicians elected to represent them,” he wrote. “What citizens truly need is a transparent government, made up of people who cross their Is, dot their Ts and put the people first.”
Committeeman Mike Mansdoerfer fell on his sword for the violations Monday. Mansdoerfer had transferred $43,010 this year from the joint account of Republican committee members Jim Conway to Dinneen’s camapaign, and $19,229 from Conway’s campaign to his own and then to Dinneen’s in 2013. Republicans committee members Lewis Jackson and Sean Earlen also received $19,077 from Dinneen’s fund in 2014.
The limit for contributions from one candidate committee to another is $8,200.
Mansdoerfer, who served as the treasurer of all three campaigns, told the Burlington County Times that he was unaware that he was running afoul of campaign finance law.
“It was a reporting issue and I take full responsibility,” Mansdoerfer said. “There was never any (malicious) intent.”
He said that he has been in touch with members of ELEC and hopes to correct his mistake.
“Every penny of ours is accounted for,” he said.