Campaign manager: candidate has “done nothing illegal”

Seema Singh’s campaign spokesman Tuesday saidthe Democratic State Senate candidate did nothing to violate the law, and has no intention of bowing out of the race in the wake of a complaint filed with the State EthicsCommission that as ratepayer advocateSingh hired her former chief of staff as a consultant six days after the staffer retired.

Singh herself termed the complaint going back to a 2003 incident "ridiculous," which campaign spokesman John Duthie backed upTuesday in remarks made to PoliticsNJ.com.

"It’s an odd complaint," said Duthie. "It’s something that was filed over a year ago by a guy who wasn’t at the ratepayer’s counsel when she was. She’s done nothing illegal."

Duthie said Singh had not heard about the complaint and "all of a sudden, when she becomes a candidate” the story emerges. He said he did not know why; but left the question open.

But Singh’s belief that the complaint was politically motivated is a tough claim, since it was filed in December 2006 – months before she became a candidate for office.

Already in a tough fight to replace retiring State Sen. Peter Inverso, Singh, a Democrat,is likely tobehurt by the complaint in her battle with popular GOP Assemblyman Bill Baroni.

"In today's political environment it's going to be very difficult to sympathize with what appears to be an enormously lucrative double-dip operation," said David Rebovich,executive directorof Rider University's Institute for New Jersey Politics. Particularly in the 14th district, which includes a large block of voters who are public service employees, and frequently the fall guyscome state budget season- as they were last year.

"A lot of voters in the 14th are precisely the public service rank and file that takes the blame while the politically connected get the benefits," said Rebovich.

Duthie didn’t dispute the essential information in a story in Tuesday's Trenton Times, which says Singh hiredLeora Mosstonas a private contractor six days afterMosston retired as Singh's chief of staff at the ratepayer's office. While she was drawing a state pensionof $2,357 per month,Mosston apparently earned $500,000 over three years as a private contractor -dwarfing her annual state salary, which had been $106,000.

Duthie stood by his candidate and said she would continue to reach out and connect with voters on critical issues, including property tax relief, education and healthcare. He told his candidate to keep working hard and not “let these baseless attacks get you down."

"Hiring consultants is not an uncommon thing," said Duthie. "She has done nothing wrong… She’s done nothing but follow the law."

Campaign manager: candidate has “done nothing illegal”