Mercer County Republicans are hoping that some of the bad news that Burlington County Democrats had to deal with this week over the New Frontier PAC will rub off on Mercer Democrats.
Involvement in the PAC – which was founded to help south Jersey campaigns but drew scrutiny after it donated tens of thousands of dollars to Hudson County candidates, including arrested former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano – forced Burlington County Democratic Chairman Rick Perr to announce his impending resignation, weeks after the party’s former treasurer, Jeff Meyer, quit.
Republican freeholder candidates Cindy Randazzo, Joe D’Angelo and Russ Wojtenko, Jr. noted that New Frontier gave County Executive Brian Hughes $2,500 in May, 2007 – four days after Royal Printing gave the PAC a donation of the same amount. Royal Printing, they said, was given a no-bid printing contract worth $200,000 by the freeholder board the year before.
“The elected Democrat leaders in Mercer County congratulate themselves on enacting pay to play legislation in Mercer County. But they circumvent the intent and purpose of the law by wheeling money into their own coffers. Instead of congratulating themselves they should focus on effectively managing our County finances and provide true accountability to the voters of Mercer County,” said Wojtenko.
On the Assembly side, Republican candidates Rob Calabro and Bill Harvey demanded that Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) give back the $500 he received from the PAC.
DeAngelo spokeswoman Liz Myers said that the Assemblyman had donated the money to the Sunshine Foundation by the time the Republicans noticed it, and that he started looking to give it several weeks ago.
Rich McClellan, a spokesman for the Mercer County Democrats, said that the committee will escrow the amounts of money equal to those donated by the PAC “in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety” and will give the money to charity if the PAC is formally charged with any wrongdoing.
McClellan went on to turn the issue around on the Republicans, pointing to past donations from Harry Parkin, an ex-chief of staff to former County Executive Robert Prunetti who is serving time in federal prison for building a secret financial interest with the county’s garbage hauler, Central Jersey Waste.
McClellan pointed to $26,375 in donations from Parkin and Central Jersey Waste employees to the Mercer County Republicans between 1998 and 1993.
“In the meantime, If freeholder candidates Cindy Randazzo, Joe D’Angelo and Russ Wojtenko, Jr. are truly serious in the positions they maintain in their press release, they should immediately call on the Mercer County Republican County Committee and unsuccessful Republican candidates like Cathy DiCostanzo to return the thousands of dollars donated directly by a convicted bribery felon, the former Republican County Chief of Staff Harry Parkin, which the Republican party still carries on its campaign books,” he said. “Then, they should demand the return of the thousands of dollars more donated by Parkin's cohorts in crime at Central Jersey Waste which also are still on the Republican Books. ”