Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Essex County Exec Faces Election Complaints

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Essex County Exec Faces Election Complaints

Article excerpt

One of Governor Christie's most notable Democratic backers faces a 16-count complaint from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission that alleges he failed to properly report nearly $72,000 in campaign expenditures and improperly spent more than $16,000 on trips to Puerto Rico, a gym membership and other personal expenses.

In all, the commission alleges that Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo failed to properly report 614 expenditures and wrongly billed his campaign for at least 51 items unrelated to his candidacy.

DiVincenzo could face fines of up to $6,800 for each reporting transaction - a maximum penalty of $4.5 million. That's shy of the record-setting $6.4 million that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is running in the special U.S. Senate election, faced in 2005 for failing to file campaign finance reports and submitting others late when he ran for municipal office in 2002. Booker's campaign had to pay $78,500 in penalties.

Christie appeared with DiVincenzo eight times last month - including four events over three days last week. Both men use their relationship as an example of their ability to work with members of the opposing party.

At a campaign stop in Bayonne last week, the governor - who made a name for himself as U.S. attorney by netting convictions or guilty pleas from more than 130 public officials - boasted that he has cleaned up Trenton.

"In the four years of this administration there hasn't been a whisper, not a hint of anybody doing something to deal for themselves," Christie said in Bayonne.

The complaint against DiVincenzo was brought to the non-partisan Election Law Enforcement Commission's attention by Marilynn English, an independent who ran against him in 2010.

DiVincenzo's attorney, Angelo Genova, issued a statement saying the county executive's campaign plans to defend itself against the allegations and hopes to resolve them with the Election Law Enforcement Commission. …

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