Former Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale continues to sit on $530,000 in campaign cash more than a year after Speziale abruptly left his post for a top position at the Port Authority.
Speziale’s warc chest was the focus of much attention at the time of his departure and Republicans openly celebrated that the money would not be used against them that fall. Some Democrats grumbled that they wanted a refund of the money they had donated ot the sheriff, but instead Speziale promised to donate his substantial war chest to charity.
“For my sick wife – cancer UMDNJ, the needy children, baseball, soccer, kids, sports which I believe in, etc.,” Speziale told PolitickerNJ in August of last year.
But with the exception of small donations totaling less than $40,000 the money has gone largely untouched, according to reports filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, leaving the former sheriff with $534,000 on hand.
It’s unclear what the sheriff plans to do with the funds or if he hopes to one day run for office again.
Speziale could not be reached for comment and a call to attorney Linda George, listed on campaign paperwork as the treasurer of Speziale’s campaign fund, was not returned.
In August 2010, Speziale abruptly resigned as sheriff in favor of a $195,000 job as Deputy Superintendent of the Port Authority Police Department. Speziale was up for election the following November and Passaic County Democrats scurried to replace the popular sheriff, settling on Clifton cop Richard Berdnik, who won the job on Election Day. The party’s Freeholder candidates also won.
At the time, media reports put Passaic County Republican Chairman Assemblyman Scott Rumana at the heart of the deal to move Speziale and his war chest out of Passaic. Rumana reportedly received an assist from state Sen. Kevin O’Toole.
Democrats have charged that the move was a purely political effort to weaken the Passaic County Democrats by removing the popular sheriff and his money in the middle of a battle to retain control of the Freeholder Board, while Republicans have said Speziale was the most qualified person for the job.
In September, multiple Democrats, including Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie and Assemblyman Gary Schaer whose district includes a portion of the county, called on state and federal law enforcement officials to investigate the deal to move Speziale to the PA.
In April, the New York Post reported that the circumstances surrounding Speziale’s hiring are under investigation by the FBI.