A Republican activist suspects that Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney may have violated his own campaign promise from 2002.
Joe Caruso, founder of the Republican group Red Faction, said that McNerney pledged to ban politicking on county property during his original campaign for the county executive seat.
“Either there is a no politicking policy in place or there isn’t,” said Caruso.
But McNerney said that he never made such a pledge. Instead, incensed by what he said was former Freeholder Jim Sheehan making fundraising calls from his county office, McNerney said that he campaigned to introduce an ordinance banning fundraising on county property – not political rallies.
“The only thing I wanted to do was keep Jimmy Sheehan from dialing for dollars from his freeholder office,” said McNerney through a spokesman.
McNerney introduced an ordinance when he was a freeholder in 2001 that banned the practice, and instituted a similar rule as county executive in 2004.
The freeholder resolution was also inspired by former Bergen County Sheriff Joe Ciccone’s fundraising scandal, in which he admitted using his office to demand donations from county employees.
McNerney faced criticism from Republicans after kicking off his own county executive campaign at Bergen Community College in 2001. At the time, Republican consultant Thom Ammirato questioned whether he was violating his own law by holding the event on county property.
In the same press release, potential Republican freeholder candidate Chris Calabrese, from Upper Saddle River, asked who paid for the manpower, lighting and clean up after the event.
“I’m assuming the school,” said McNerney spokesman Brian Hague. “I think it’s safe to say that if Sen. John McCain came in for a rally and wanted to speak to students also, the school in upper saddle river would have no problem keeping the school open for that purpose.”