Strange bedfellows in Bergen County

Bergen County Democratic Organization lawyer Dennis Oury has a friend in Steve Lonegan.

Lonegan, the outspoken conservative mayor of Bogota and contributor, said he plans to join Oury in a lawsuit against the state’s pay-to-play laws.

“I believe in unlimited contributions and full disclosure, and if the people don’t like it they’ll vote you out of office,” said Lonegan. “We don’t need government bureaucrats telling us what’s right and wrong.”

Oury recently told The Bergen Record’s Charles Stile that he planned to file a lawsuit asking the court to strike down the state’s two-year-old pay to play laws, which limit contributions from contractors.

The 2005 GOP gubernatorial candidate analogized Republicans taking up pay to play legislation to Ronald Reagan capitulating to the Soviet Union and engaging in disarmament rather than building up the military. The pay-to-play issue, he said, is a “political diversion” meant to take attention away from high taxes and government spending – something he said is only partially brought about by corruption, of which pay-to-play is just one part.

Lonegan said he isn’t particularly close with Oury, but was willing to join him either as a Co-plaintiff or by filing an amicus brief.

“I know Dennis a little bit. He’s obviously a Democrat, I’m clearly on the opposite side of the political spectrum,” said Lonegan. “But I understand that to get your message out you have to raise money and you have to be able to inspire people. And if you can’t do that, I don’t think you’re qualified to win.

Oury’s announcement drew the ire of the 37th district Democrats, two of whom sponsored the legislation and who are often at odds with Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who co-authored the legislation when she was still in the Assembly in 2004, said she had no quarrel with Lonegan opposing the legislation. Her problem was that Oury was threatening to sue on behalf of the BCDO, an organization she belongs to.

"“Steve Lonegan is very much an individualist. And as I said, whatever he wants to do as a person who resides in the state of New Jersey he’s free to do,” said Weinberg. “He’s not doing it on behalf of the borough of Bogota, of which he is mayor. There’s a big difference with what he’s decided to do, versus Mr. Oury speaking out for the almost 2,000 elected county committee people, Mayors, Councilmembers, state legislators, Freeholders, etc. that make up the BCDO.” Strange bedfellows in Bergen County