Democrats stormed Burlington County Republican headquarters in Mount Holly earlier today, demanding to know how Freeholder Director Aubrey Fenton and Freeholder Stacey Jordan are funding their campaign with one week to go before Election Day.
Evesham Deputy Mayor Chris Brown and Shamong Committeewoman Mary Anne Reinhart wonder how Fenton and Jordan can pay for a barrage of Philadelphia network television advertising when the GOP candidates reported just $44,000 in the bank in their latest ELEC report. “In the past several years, the Burlington County Republicans have been the only political party in the State of New Jersey to use an intricate loan scheme secured from 20 individuals to fund their campaigns and often a last minute network TV buy,” said Burlington Democratic Chairman Rick Perr. “These same individuals have made $30 million in government contracts, salaries and pension credits since 2006,” the chairman added. “The group, since dubbed the ‘Paulsen’s 20,’ (after former Burlington GOP Chairman Glen Paulsen) has likely been summoned once again.”A Brown/Reinhart press conference ended after the Democrats tried to gain access to Republican headquarters and the GOP locked their doors and stayed inside.
“It’s desperation on their part for them to come and act obnoxious like that,” said Burlington County Republican Chairman Bill Layton. ” We’ve been here raising money so we can beat them. We have a superior record and a record of reducing taxes.”
It’s a tough year with the presidential race in New Jersey heavily favoring Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.), Layton conceded.
“But we’ll come out on top because voters know how to differentiate between what’s going on with McCain and Obama and the freeholder board,” said the Republican chairman, who called the Paulsen 20 story “old news.”
“We raised money from people,” Layton said. “We ask people to support us. It’s not my fault people believe we’re going to do a better job of cutting taxes and spending. People can go and look at the money on ELEC. You can see everything. We’re not hiding.”
But not only is timing an issue, the Democrats argue. The core of their concern is the conflict of interest involving Republican candidates for freeholder and their campaign contributors.
“These are tough economic times,” said Brown. “Small business owners are being forced to shut down due to a massive credit crunch. While Fenton and Jordan are raising our property taxes, and have failed miserably at economic development it is reprehensible, they are accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans from county vendors who make their living on the backs of Burlington County taxpayers.”