Monday, May 08, 2006


This past Friday, William H. Seward of More Monmouth Musings ran a post criticizing Courier publisher Jim Purcell for an editorial he ran in last week's Courier. (May 4th.) In the editorial, Purcell bashes Freeholder Deputy Director Rob Clifton for accepting a $5,000.00 contribution from the Committee for Responsibility and Trust in Government, an East Brunswick Township-based PAC led by former State Senator Jack Sinagra (R-Middlesex). After receiving negative press (From Courier) last summer, Clifton returned the contribution.
Much of this is just a re-hash of last summer's articles.
Purcell updates the story by comparing Clifton to indicted former West Long Branch Councilman Joseph DeLisa, who was nailed in Operation Bid-Rig, and is now said to be jammed up with developer Jack Morris and former State Senator John Lynch (D-Middlesex).
As Seward says:
"With that being said, Jim's column this week is garbage. Yellow journalism. Not fit for the National Enquirer or Mr. Whipple's inventory. He rehashes an old story published last July with no new facts and spews innuendo and suspicion on Rob Clifton because a campaign contributor of Rob's is suspected by an Asbury Park Press reporter of being an unnamed developer in former West Long Branch Councilman Joseph DeLisa's Operation Bid Rig indictment."
I agree with Seward, "Jim has been kinder to Republicans and former Republicans who have been indicted. He's even talked about "innocent until proven guilty" in the cases of at least 3 indicted in Operation Bid Rig."
I can see going after a public figure based upon many factors, good government being one of them, but in this case it looks like Jim Purcell simply doesn't like Rob Clifton. That's fine, but dislike does not good journalism make.
Last July, Courier ran a series of well-researched stories by Jackie Corley on the train station redevelopment project involving Matawan and Aberdeen. The problem was, they didn't go far enough. It's not as simple as "Oooh, Rob accepted a campaign contribution." That does not exist in a vacuum. Aberdeen's Democrats have accepted several thousand dollars from several developers doing business in their town. From the Aberdeen GOP website:
"In 2003, they accepted contributions of $4,000 from JPI, developer of Jefferson apartments, now Versailles, and $5,000 from Kara Homes, developer of Aspen Woods on Route 34 and Aberdeen Forge in Freneau. And so far this year they “wheeled” $1,000 to the Hazlet Township Democrat campaign! It’s no wonder the Democrats in Trenton continue to fight meaningful reforms of “pay-to-play” laws and an end to “wheeling”; they subsist upon it."
And the Aberdeen GOP Chairman, Michael Borg, who is a commenter on this blog, has exposed a $5,000.00 contribution to the Aberdeen Democrats from Aberdeen's train station developer! You didn't see that in Courier.
This goes well beyond Matawan and Aberdeen. Getting back to the Committee for Responsibility and Trust in Government, other beneficiaries of its largesse are the Howell Committee for Good Government (10/27/05 -- $4,000.00), and the Election Fund of Bill Barham (11/01/05 -- $5,000.00), but Purcell never reported that either.
I have come to respect Jim Purcell as a journalist, but to single out Rob Clifton while giving numerous others a pass is just wrong. Just plain wrong. To quote Will Seward, "Jim, you can do better. A lot better."

I just took a look through ELEC today, and here's what I found. The Monmouth GOP Leadership PAC, another of Fred's PACs (This would be No. 11). This PAC lists Neptune Attorney Peter V. Cantalupo, Jr. as its chairman, and Glenn Hopler (of course!) as treasurer.
This PAC included a $2,250.00 contribution from Jack Morris (himself, no PACs this time), a $750.00 contribution from John E. Westlake, only 2 months after his office had been raided by the FBI, and another $750.00 from Solomon Dwek. I'm assuming Dwek's check has cleared.
These contributions were all dated January 26, 2006, the date of the Chairman's Gala. This only strengthens my contention that it's Fred Niemann, not Rob Clifton that's the problem.
Nice people Fred hangs out with.



This is bull, and you know it. What was done in Matwan was a crime, that lost Republican leadership in that town because voters were a lot brighter than a few corrupt Republicans thought.

I know who the crew is here...Abe. And, it's straight up BS, as you well know.

William H Seward said...

Let's choose our words more carefully, please. Jim, I know that you know that Rob committed no crime and I know that because you said so on my blog.


And FYI: by "crime" I'm using and figure of speech and NOT saying it was illegal for anyone to do what was done. It just should be.

Of course anyone with half a brain or half a conscience wouldn't have done what was almost perpetrated there.


Since you want to talk about "meaningful reforms that Democrats are fighting in Trenton," wanna talk about campaign contributions to Kyrillos from developers in the district and what HE has done to forward their interests? That's some very interesting stuff.

He's all about "battling back corruption," right? Or...not at all. Probably 'not at all.'

Honest Abe said...

So what about the 5 grand contributed to Billy Barham's campaign, Jim? Are you saying it's OK for him to take contributions from Morris' PAC but not OK for Clifton?
I'm not bashing Barham here, but it seems to me that the same rules would apply to him as Rob.

I think what we're actually seeing here is not a problem with Clifton or Barham, but one with the current County GOP leadership. (Niemann, Gallic etc.) Your paper pointed out that since Niemann took the chairmanship there has been a major increase in Lynch-related contributions, Westlake and Alma Ltd. for example. A donation to the Clifton campaign would fall neatly into that theory, as would the donation to Billy's. I don't think there was any deep, dark plot on the part of Clifton anymore than there was one on the part of Barham. I think the pattern here is the entire infusion of Lynch money into the County GOP and not just Rob Clifton. Or the 4K in the Howell/Hopler PAC.
Look beyond Clifton. It's old news, Jim.


Billy was an elected official in Monmouth Beach. He never turned his town over to a maniac or pimped it out for a kick up to Freehold or to get in the good humor of any party big shots.

And, Billy Barham is an ethical person to my knowledge who has rendered honorable service in government AND the community. He's a businessman who never had to glom onto politics or politicians to earn a buck in this world. He's a businessman and he earned his money the old fashioned way...he worked for it. By the way, he's a class act who has a mind of his own, and I'll buy that any day.

I don't think you're bashing Billy, and I think these freeholders are great, with the exception of one.

I'm willing to let this lie, but it's old news for now. It can wait. What happened with this sell-out in Matawan is part of the package, though, just like the money he took from the PAC. He's gonna live with this one, but it has been enough of it for now. If anyone wants to keep it going I'm all in.

I said my piece, though, and if it's done I'll leave it there until the next time he runs.

But yes, Abe, you are right: There was an increase in Lynch-related contributions since Fred took over. Your argument is credible, in my opinion, and possible. I disagree with it, but that doean't mean your argument is wrong. I respectfully have another.

William H Seward said...

I wonder what happens with all of that money when we have a new chairman?

Honest Abe said...

William H Seward addressed...
"I wonder what happens with all of that money when we have a new chairman?"

Well, I would advise those interested in the job to get legal advice NOW. We don't really want a new Chairman, trying to do a good job, meanwhile Fred, Dan, Glenn and the rest of the "bunker boys" are in control of the money and use it to start mischief.
Bottom line: All the PACs should be shut down by May 31, and the money deposited in the Monmouth County Republican Committee account. Then the new leadership can go through the books and determine which contributions might be tainted and act accordingly.


abe's argument is good. i didn't know fred had as much to do with this stuff as it appears he does.

so, a lot of the lynch, morris and westlake stuff going on in the county apaprently has something to do with spray on tan (SOT).

so, clifton is dim. i still don't think he is the guy for this job, but ELEC reports usually don't lie.

there is a strong possiblility, apparently, that mr. niemann is the cause of the party's infiltration by morris, westlake and lynch. ELEC activity to kyrillos is by far pre-existing to fred but that is another situation altogether.

clifton was probably led then. props to handlin for not accepting this donation.

and by the way, congrats to jimmy cocuzza and artie boden.

Honest Abe said...

Clifton probably was led, as were a lot of other people. I wouldn't go so far as to call him dim, but I believe he, along with others, trusted the wrong people. Hopefully he and the others are the wiser for it. Let's go forward, now, and elect Anna and Andrew.
That was a nice win in Keansburg. That team has done a lot of good for The Burg since they took office; let them keep up the good work!
May they always keep the citizen first and foremost, and remember the Oath of Office says "under the authority of the people."

William H Seward said...

Glad to hear you coming around Jim, but I think you still may be being too harsh on Clifton.

I don't know that he is dim or that he's mistake was all that unreasonable. I think and up and up comparison to him and Amy, given their levels of experience is unreasonable.

Let's put ourselves in Rob's shoes back during that campaign, and remember that was the pre-operation bid rig era.

Rob is Mayor of Matawan and Bill Dowd, Joe Kryillos and Judith Stanley Coleman pluck him out of his safe political existence and annoint him Freeholder. A s**t storm erupts yet he wins the primary any way and Dowd is still dumped a week later. This could be heady stuff for someone who's never experienced more than a municipal race.

He has no county wide experience, nor his own organization and has never had to raise serious money

Now the new chairman is managing his campaign and no doubt "his" Senator is advising him. Given his level of inexperience it would be wise for him to lean on the newly elected chairman, who we all had high hopes for at the time, and the Senator.

He's elected. Fast forward not too far...Harry resigns, another convention and then WHAM. Operation Bid rig hits. Everything changes.

5 months later you and Jackie publish her story. It is conceivable that Rob didn't know that Morris was a contributor to the PAC. Given the story is does the SMART thing and gives the money back.

10 months later you resurect the story because Morris was an aledged contributor and briber of DeLisa? I would say refusing to answer your questions was SMART.

I would suggest you judge Rob based on his performance after returning the Morris money


regardless of what my paper or i do or does not do, there are other people more directly impacted who did not take this train station thing well. if they are doing something else, that would be their business.

i think it's a lean argument about clifton being unaware, but i'm not for political welfare. i've only seen a few pouty looks and a carry on of the factional nonsense from him, i haven't see anything special yet and not holding my breath.

i know the arguments about the overwhelming nature of the campaign finance issue. but candidates are responsible for their rhetoric. if a candidate goes out and preaches to the high heaven about the cleanliness of their money, it is incumbent on them to know what they are talking about, as any other issue they tackle or address.

otherwise, what is the logic...they can be believed in this but not that when they speak with authority on a subject? so the listener is left to decipher the probable from the improbable and employ context clues.

especially when a kick up is a breached birth, the candidate should be all the more aware of what is going on. amy's behavior was guarded in the money she took. the senior partner is the example for the junior. the junior partner is supposed to actually learn something. if two people are walking along a railroad track and one steps out of the way at the sign of a whistle, that is generally a clue for the other one to get off the tracks too, though the junior may never have seen a train (no pun intended).

and there is an appearance here that quiet will not resolve. this blog is dedicated to insiders, and so this argument is "inside." this issue will be back again with the elctorate unless properly explained and..."the courier's writings are bad because they reported on it and said it looked fishy..." is not an explanation, nor is such discourse through third parties. leaders lead by example too.

my editorial comments, while not being laudatory and offering opinion and comment, were founded in facts though conclusions speculated as to motivations and poor appearances (which are not unreasonable to a non-partisan mind). and one very possible opponent would be unger, and that possible opponent would not be an easy one. if the gop comes out of the gate with a weak candidate, then that is what they will be fielding.

office holders take responsibility for actions to their constituents. silence is a calculated gamble here. the app is good to amy. is it going to be good to rob? the gambit is like playing in vegas. get it out of the way early and diffuse the hit to be safe? be quiet and it's a time bomb...maybe it'll go off and maybe it won't. personally, i'd think about laying it out and facing the time the next cycle somes along it's done. otherwise, it could have some juice.

all of this is voodoo. but some voodoo works and some doesn't. is the gop's line as strong as it was under harry? no, it's not right now. under an oxley? it may well return as strong or even stronger (oxley has great promise). i've been wrong before, but ocley looks like the real deal to me.

an interesting hand. it should be thought out well first without a liberal portion of optimism to the next cycle.

voodoo airbather said...


Matthew McGrath said...


The 11th PAC was created, if I'm reading the report correctly, on March 24, 2006, which is the day of or the day after the Press broke the story on the PACs.

When i interviewed Bateman about the his Holmdel PAC he said the the PACs were closed and the money was folded into the county organization. It's looking like the PACs were consolidated into that 11th PAC.

Another interesting point is the Interlaken Committtee for Good Government made two donations of note: one to Cotley '05 and one to Democrats for Cotley. Both have the same mailing address. I didn't look into it any further because it is out of our covereage area, and I've been preoccupied with other subjects in the last few weeks.

Honest Abe said...


The Aberdeen and Holmdel PACs were folded into the 10th PAC, not the 11th. The 10th is the Committee for Sensible Growth, which was around in '05 but with no ELEC report. It popped up on the radar when $100.00 was transferred into it from the Interlaken PAC. Nos. 8 and 9 are the Committee for Small Business Development, and New Millenium Leadership. There are still no ELEC reports for them. And No. 11 is the Monmouth GOP Leadership PAC, which was founded in January, about the time of the Chairman's Gala.
It is my understanding that the local chairmen were told that the money was going to the county organization, not another PAC.
As to Catley '05 and Democrats for Catley, I have found no ELEC reports for them either. They would appear to be part of the 2005 Neptune Township Committee campaign, but it is always possible that they are simply PACs Nos. 12 and 13. The fact is, we don't actually know how many pacs Niemann actually set up!
Read my post of Tuesday, May 09, 2006 7:06:22 PM for my take on the party's finances.

Matthew McGrath said...

The Catley money, was sent to the same address in Ocean Grove, not the shrewsbury address. You're right I was not able to find any ELEC reports for either of those groups.