Middlesex County Democratic Party sources say their party is bracing for a state comptroller’s report they fear will land in time to possibly embarrass Monroe Mayor Richard Pucci, a key political ally of state Sen. Linda Greenstein’s (D-14) of Plainsboro.
Undertaken by the independent comptroller’s office, the report, say sources, focuses on the inner workings of the massive Middlesex County Improvement Authority, where exeutive director Pucci makes in excess of $200,000, and oversees a $70 million, 700-employee operation.
“I can confirm that we do have an audit taking place of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority but it is still in progress and there is no fixed date for completion,” said comptroller spokesman Pete McAleer.
The veteran Pucci seeks re-election this year on an undercard in an important town located in the much-watched 14th legislative district.
Jittery early in the face of a hard-working incumbent, the GOP seeks traction against Greenstein, the labor-backed senator, who so far has outraised Republican challenger Richard Kanka by a substantial margin.
Questioning the timing despite the fact that Comptroller Matthew Boxer was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine as the head of an independent office, Democrats say they are alert to the potential for the Pucci factor to contribute to a larger Republican narrative in a county where Gov. Chris Christie seeks political headway.
“The comptroller has really been up their as-es over there,” one source this week told PolitickerNJ.com.
The same source added that when this summer came and almost went, Pucci allies began to watch the clock as they considered the upcoming campaign season.
Launched over a year ago, these audits don’t ordinarily take so long, said another Democrat, speaking on condition of anonymity and worried about a lectern with Christie behind it landing in the middle of South Middlesex in the middle of the mayor’s re-election campaign.
The GOP already has the ammunition of former Middlesex County Sheriff Joe Spicuzzo’s bribery indictments to attempt to depict Democratic Party leadership as corrupt, in addition to the narrative of former Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas, found guilty of corruption charges earlier this year.
To be clear, no one who talked to PolitickerNJ.com feared the comptroller’s office would reveal indictable corruption at the authority. Neither is there confirmation at the state level of county Democratic Party woes that the release would appear in the coming days.
“That place is sealed tight,” said a source, referring to the comptroller’s office.
But, to the first point, on a large checklist of items, sources said, the governor on the heels of a released report may have some material to sink his teeth ino as a toiling Republican Party heads toward elections intent on stirring up voter anger over perceived public indulgences.
Pucci was unavailable for comment.
Sources say that in the event of the state issuing its report in the coming weeks, the mayor is prepared to allow the board to defend his salary.