HACKENSACK – Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato called on Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan to cancel a fundraiser scheduled for May 5 with Gov. Chris Christie after he made remarks on allowing unlimited campaign contributions to political candidates.
Christie, a potential Republican presidential contender, told the audience at a Somerset town hall event on Tuesday that donor limits should be eliminated, but that the contributions should swiftly be made public.
The Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) issued the Donovan fundraising invitation via email on Tuesday, the same day Christie made these comments, according to a written statement issued by the Bergen Democrats.
“Bergen County finally has a pay-to-play ordinance in place that protects taxpayers from the influence of money in government and politics. Christie’s position is wrong but one that is unfortunately shared by Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin,” said Stellato in a written statement on Wednesday. “For the County Executive to host a fundraising event for her campaign with the governor in the aftermath of his statements sends a horrible message to our residents. Two weeks ago the Bergen County Freeholder Board passed a resolution calling for a statewide pay-to-play law. Christie’s proposal would just open up the floodgates. We cannot and will not allow that to happen. Under my leadership, the Democratic Party will always fight to keep pay-to-play politics out of Bergen County.”
“Bergen County Democrats are absolutely clueless as to how to defeat Kathe Donovan in November. Instead, they continue to attack [Christie],” said Mark Campbell, Donovan’s campaign spokesman. “[Stellato’s] comments border on comical considering that his party led the fight to weaken pay-to-play laws in Bergen County. This is just more of the hapless campaign we’ve seen from [the Bergen Democrats] since they’ve started. Democrats have a proven record of weakening ethics and pay-to-play laws, so why they’re even talking about it, God only knows.”
Yudin both defended his views on fundraising, then attacked the Bergen Democrats’ position.
“I completely agree with [Christie’s] position that that there shouldn’t be restrictions, and it should be within a very short time that there is disclosure. Then everybody can make their own decision,” Yudin said. “Originally, the Democratic freeholders, with two Republican freeholders, voted for a change in the original [pay-to-play county] ordinance which allowed political parties to bring in up to $5,200. When the original pay-to-play ordinance went to $5,200, Mr. Stellato approved of it, and his freeholders voted for it. This is just Stellato and these hypocritical Democrats pontificating. Kathe Donovan should go ahead with her fundraiser. I’m looking forward to it being very successful.”
The May 5 fundraising event for Donovan, the Republican incumbent who is being challenged by Bergen County Freeholder Jim Tedesco in November, is scheduled to be held at Hackensack’s Stony Hill Inn. Tickets are priced at three levels, according to the statement issued by the Bergen Democrats: $5,000 for host committee members, $2.500 for VIPs and $250 for individuals.