Assembly candidate says he failed to file finance reports out of “civil disobedience” over Lonegan matching funds

A candidate for Assembly in the 40th legislative District says he welcomes a campaign finance complaint against him as his failure to file proper reports with the state agency that tracks them is an act of “civil disobedience.”

William Brennan, a Democrat who is challenging Republican incumbents Scott Rumana and David Russo, is facing a complaint from the Election Law Enforcement Commission that he failed to file his campaign finance reports from a 2009 run for municipal office in Wayne Township.

But the candidate, who has been pursuing a state ethics complaint against Rumana for nearly a year, said he intentionally did not file the reports after he learned of an ELEC decision that allowed Republican Steve Lonegan to receive matching state funds for his gubernatorial run.

Lonegan was the state director for Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax issue advocacy group.  State law says any candidate seeking matching funds must disclose any past management of an issue advocacy group and provide a list of donors and expenditures if they have run one.

Lonegan argued that he was not in fact in charge of the group and was paid by AFP’s educational foundation.

“I worked for Americans for Prosperity Foundation,” Lonegan told the Associated Press at the time.

ELEC officials investigated his role and ultimately ruled he was entitled to the funds. In all, Lonegan received $2.8 million in matching funds.

“After that absurd result, I informed ELEC that as a matter of civil disobedience, I would not file a 2009 ELEC report and invited them to prosecute me,” Brennan said in an email.  “Two years later they finally granted my wish.”

Brennan said he has already responded to the complaint, telling ELEC he had no intention of filing the reports.

“As I have repeatedly informed your staff in 2009,” he said he told the agency.  “NJELEC allowed Lonegan to flagrantly violate State Election Law.  My refusal to file in 2009 is an act of civil disobedience intended to expose hypocrisy.”

He won’t file, he said, until Lonegan gives back the money.

“I have filed in every year except the year that Lonegan stole from the public treasury and nothing short of the NJ Supreme Court will get me to file for 2009 unless Lonegan GIVES BACK THE MONEY HE STOLE!,” Brennan said in the same email.

Lonegan did not immediately return a call for comment.

According to the complaint, Brennan has 20 days from the March 30 filing date to request a hearing. If he doesn’t, ELEC will impose a penalty.

ELEC officials said they cannot comment on a specific instances, but said they take into account mitigating and aggravating circumstances when deciding on complaints.

Assembly candidate says he failed to file finance reports out of “civil disobedience” over Lonegan matching funds