Somerset County Freeholders Use Taxpayer Money for Campaign

“They're stealing our money” charged Peg Schaffer, Somerset County Democratic Chair, when she saw the all Republican Freeholder Boards “special issue” Newsletter.

While the Newsletter includes some information regarding other members of the Board and its calendar, the primary focus of the Newsletter is to tout the alleged “achievements” of the two freeholders up for election this year.

New Jersey law is clear that this Newsletter is a reportable political communication.

The Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) deems a communication “political” if it’s circulated within 90 days of the election to an audience eligible to  vote containing reference to the “governmental achievements or objectives” of a candidate and is circulated with the candidate’s consent (N.J.A.C. 19:25- 10.10b).

This special issue meets the test and is thus a reportable contribution to Freeholder candidates Scaglione and Caliguire. By law they are required to disclose who paid for the Newsletter and report it as a contribution. The special issue was mailed and paid for by the Freeholder Board, whose sole source of income is public money i.e. our money. Both the report to ELEC and the Newsletter should read “PAID FOR BY DOLLARS STOLEN FROM RESIDENTS OF SOMERSET COUNTY.” Schaffer called upon Scaglione and Caliguire to properly report the expenditures and repay the dollars. The link to the Newsletter is below.

This charge has been forwarded to ELEC, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s office.