Reports that newly elected Trenton Mayor Tony Mack’s campaign handed out envelopes full of $20 bills to run-off election campaign workers could get Mack into hot water with the law.
Handing out cash to campaign workers – so called street money – has been illegal since 1994.
Mack’s camp gave out vouchers to campaign workers who were told to turn them in for payment for primary-day work. When a crowd of nearly 300 workers arrived at Mack’s headquarters demanding payment, many were told to come back the following day, setting off a near riot that required 20 Trenton Police Officers to quell.
The problem with Mack’s voucher system is that it’s illegal under state law, which requires payments to campaign workers to be made by check.
Election Law Enforcement Commission Deputy Director Joe Donohue said while he could not comment on a specific campaign or committee, in general cash payments to campaign workers are illegal.
Wednesday Mack said he was unsure if cash went to election workers, but he would review the process and fix any mistakes.
“We’ll take a long hard look at it and make sure everything was done correctly,” the mayor-elect said. “My understanding is it worked well, but whatever problems we had that day we’ll make sure they are corrected.”
Mack’s opponent in the run-off, Trenton Councilman Manny Segura, told PolitickerNJ Wednesday that the Mack camp’s actions were a “sad statement.”
“I said during the campaign – and meant it- that I would rather lose than corrupt myself,” Segura said.
It is unknown if any complaints have been filed against Mack or his campaign workers.
Street cash has been illegal since 1994, when then Gov. Jim Florio signed legislation banning the practice and requiring any money to campaign workers to be paid by check made out directly to the worker, payable from the account of the candidate or committee making the payment.
The legislation stemmed from outrage over boasts by Ed Rollins, a campaign consultant to Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Christie Whitman, that hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid to black ministers to help quell the black vote.
A two month investigation by federal and state authorities found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.