NJ Politics Digest: Mayoral Campaign Rally Features Free Cash for Attendees

Is it legal to hand out free cash at a campaign rally? HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images

When someone starts handing out $20 bills to attendees during a campaign rally, you can be sure the other side if going to cry foul.

And that’s what’s happening in Paterson, according to a report from The Paterson Press.

The incident happened when mayoral candidate Pedro Rodriguez held a rally to mark his endorsement by city native and hip-hop star Fetty Wap. But Fetty Wap wasn’t the only celebrity on hand for the Sunday night gathering. Also at the rally was entertainer Fatboy SSE, who apparently is known for his habit of handing out double-digit greenbacks, according to the report.

Fatboy SSE didn’t disappoint those on hand on Sunday, pulling out a thick wad of cash and peeling off and distributing $20 bills, the report said.

When a representative of Alex Mendez, one of Rodriguez’s opponents in the mayoral race, heard about Fatboy SSE’s largesse, he announced plans to file a complaint with state and federal election officials, saying the entertainer was clearly trying to buy votes on Rodriguez’s behalf. Representatives of other mayoral candidates in the city told the paper they also saw problems with the giveaway. While a representative of the state Election Law Enforcement Commission told the paper the giveaway was “unusual,” he also was noncommittal about what, if any action, the state would take.

Rodriguez claims he didn’t know about the giveaway when it was happening and did not pay Fatboy SSE to attend the rally, the report said. One thing his campaign did pay for and distribute was ice cream to children who attended, the candidate told the newspaper.

Quote of the Day: “You can’t hand out money at campaign rallies. It’s illegal. There’s nothing gray about it. You are trying to get people to vote for you by handing out stacks of cash.” — Henry Sosa, campaign manager for Paterson mayoral candidate Alex Mendez, on an entertainer’s actions at a campaign rally for Mendez opponent Pedro Rodriguez.

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