Democratic Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo will amend several campaign finance reports filed with the state in the past four years in order to include itemized details of thousands of dollars charged to a campaign credit card.
Several reports filed during his 2010 run for office as well as reports filed in advance of the 2014 primary do not itemize nearly $175,000 in credit card charges, in violation of state campaign finance laws.
According to the law, any charges reimbursed to either a campaign credit card or one in the candidate’s name must be reported, including the amount of the charge, the date and the vendor.
The credit card charges were the subject of a request for investigation filed by former county candidate Marilyn English, who in August told the Election Law Enforcement Commission she believed the credit card purchases to be “excessive expenses.”
In response to inquiries from PolitickerNJ, DiVincenzo said through his attorney that while he believes his reports were properly filed, he will amend all relative filings in the interest of transparency.
“We have not been served with any ELEC Complaint against the DiVincenzo Committee and to our understanding none has been initiated,” said Attorney Angelo Genova in a statement. “We believe that all DiVincenzo Committee reports were properly and timely filed with ELEC. These reports disclose the information asked for in the actual ELEC reporting forms.”
Genova went on to say that ELEC’s campaign filing reports do not provide space for itemizing receipts.
“These reports disclose the information asked for in the actual ELEC reporting forms,” he said. “To those that say more specific information was required to be reported about personal credit card reimbursements, I say that if that were so, ELEC’s reporting form would ask for that information and it doesn’t. And if ELECs own regulations are to be read to require more specifics, why doesn’t the ELEC form ask for those specifics? It doesn’t.”
In the statement, Genova stressed that none of the money spent by DiVincenzo came from public funds.
“Joseph DiVincenzo reports his use of his campaign funds …….Funds which this Committee believes have been expended for legally permissible purposes and funds and expenditures which involve not one cent in public taxpayer dollars,” Genova said.
Between January 2008 and October 2011, DiVincenzo’s campaign paid at least 47 checks to two credit cards totaling nearly $175,000. That total includes nearly $20,000 paid to the cards in October. DiVincenzo filed 22 reports during that period excluding amendments to existing reports.
The payments range from $240 to $9,185 and were generally accompanied by only generic descriptions of the purchase such as “food/travel.” In some instances, the description says only “reimbursement to candidate for campaign expenses.”
During that period, DiVincenzo has raised more than $2 million and as of his last filed report in October, retains $942,000 on hand.
While the ELEC filing form does not contain separate space for itemizing credit card charges, many campaigns create a separate attachment to show the purchase details.