In October, 2007, Dennis Oury gave the Bergen County Democratic Organization a $25,000 interest-free loan.
At the time, Oury was the BCDO’s general counsel. Yesterday, he stepped down after Tuesday’s indictment charging him and Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joe Ferriero with eight corruption counts. But the loan remains on the books.
Kay Nest, the party’s vice-chair who’s acting as chairwoman while Ferriero takes a leave of absence, said that she didn’t know about the loan, but it’s something that the party will be sure to address in the coming weeks, when top officials will pour over its finances.
When asked whether the BCDO should return the loan, Nest said “you just gave me a good idea. I didn’t even know about that. I’ll definitely look into it.”
“We’re all going to meet next week and talk, including everybody – and when I say everybody, I mean everybody – and just talk to see what’s next,” Nest added.
The BCDO still also owes the Senate Democratic Leadership PAC $102,500, although former state Sen. Joe Coniglio, who was indicted on corruption charges earlier this year, forgave his own $15,000 loan to the organization. Sheriff Leo McGuire still owes the BCDO $151,222 for his reelection campaign, while the “Victory 2007” committee owes $340,598.
When informed of the Oury loan, Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin was more certain about what his Democratic counterparts should do about it.
“My initial reaction simply is, assuming your facts are correct, that there’s a distinct possibility that money was obtained in an ill-gotten way, and yes, the BCDO should immediately return that loan,” he said. “Based on the U.S. Attorney’s indictment and the fact that Oury and Ferriero, according to the indictment, were illegally collecting money on these grants, then sure it should be returned. Any money loaned to the Bergen County Democratic Organization that is conceivably tainted should be immediately returned.”
Whatever happens with the Oury money, the BCDO, minus Ferriero, is continuing with its fundraising operation. Invitations went out last week inviting donors to the organization’s annual fundraising cruise around the Statue of Liberty. Traditionally, Ferriero hosts the event, and had planned to until his Tuesday indictment. Now, the organization is unsure who will.
But the party will go on.
“It’s something we do every year, so I’m keeping that going,” said Nest.