It’s gettingacrimonious in what Democrats hope will be Battleground Burlington.
The minority party in that county today stung their rivals with a video on their website detailing what party chairman Rick Perr says is a misuse of taxpayer dollars to further a bloated and beleaguered Republican Party.
"There is one fact that is undeniable," said Perr. "Taxes and spending in Burlington County have risen dramatically in the past five years. It is unacceptable that while Burlington County residents continue to pay more in taxes, these insiders are living off of the public trough."
In less than a year, 19 or 20 of what Perr calls "Paulsen’s 20 Republican Investment Team" (a nod to former Burlington County Republican Chairman Glen Paulsen) have each guaranteed $30,000 in campaign loans to the Burlington County GOP, according to the Democrats.
The problem is that the same loan guarantors are alsoenjoying either public jobs or contracts, and using that money, reaped from public entities, as collateral for the bank loans to the Republican Party.
"These same 20 loan guarantors have combined to make over $30 million dollars in government salaries, contracts, billings and pension credits," Perr fumed.
The attack comes within the very specific cauldron of a Burlington County Freeholders’ contest, with Perr making a special plea to GOP Freeholder Director Aubrey Fenton – running for re-election with Freeholder Stacy Jordan – to condemn what the Democratic Party chairman terms a case of public corruption.
Fenton was silent today, and could not be reached for comment in the face of the Democrats’ onslaught.
Paulsen’s successor, Burlington County Republican Chairman Bill Layton, lambasted Perr’s and the Democrats’ attack as a deflection from an Evesham Township budget hike this week of $4 million.
Fenton’s Democratic rivals in the freeholders’ race include Shamong Committeewoman Mary Ann Reinhart, and Chris Brown, deputy mayor of Evesham.
"It’s kind of ironic that after one of the largest tax hikes in Evesham’s history, they come up with this," said Layton. "We’ve been pounding them on taxes. What better way to distract the public than to trump this stuff up. It’s all forthright and it’s all above board."
But Perr invoked the unhappy story of Bob Stears, who earlier this year received 27 months in prison for over-billing the Burlington County Bridge Commission by as much as $1 million for the work he did as a lobbyist and consultant between 1997 and 2003.
"When I first brought up Bob Stears several years ago, the Republicans scoffed at my efforts," said the Democratic Party chairman. "It took a US Attorney, a Grand Jury and an eventual guilty plea to prove that I was right from the beginning. We will pursue these issues with the same vigilance."
During his guilty plea, Stears told the court that the GOP organization required him to tithe money back to the party.
Perr said he didn’t forget that confession.
"The Burlington County Republican Machine continues to operate with total contempt and disregard for the residents and taxpayers it purports to serve," said Perr.