Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tedesco Sues Donovan over Ad

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tedesco Sues Donovan over Ad

Article excerpt

A battle over attack ads in the Bergen County executive race intensified Sunday when Democratic challenger James Tedesco accused Republican incumbent Kathleen Donovan of slandering him in her most recent television ad.

Standing before an affordable housing project built when he was Paramus mayor, Tedesco, now a county freeholder, announced that he filed a defamation lawsuit against Donovan on Friday in Superior Court over her ad's claim that he "illegally shifted $3.6 million in our tax dollars" associated with the housing project.

Tedesco called the allegations "absolute lies and misinformation."

"What does that say about her character that she would be willing to go so far just to try to damage my character?" he said during the news conference in front of the Parkview Residences at 11 Ann Court in Paramus.

The Donovan campaign, however, stood by the ad. Mark Campbell, campaign manager for the Republicans, said the ad referred to a 2008 article in The Record on the transfer of $3.6 million in funds from developers' fees to the borough's housing authority.

Campbell also attacked a campaign ad that Tedesco ran last week. It was made to look like an investigative television news report on Donovan's collecting a state pension at the same time she is paid $134,637 annually as county executive.

"When you have no facts and all you're left with is a strategy to deceive, then that's the kind of ad that you run," Campbell said Friday.

Tedesco campaign manager Michael Pagan defended the mock news attack ad.

"It's not deceptive. It's creative and interesting," he said. "And everything in that ad is true."

Donovan campaign spokesman Joe Orlando declined to comment on the lawsuit Sunday, noting that campaign officials had not been served with a copy even though it was distributed to reporters.

The lawsuit and the back and forth between the campaigns signal a shift to a grittier phase of a closely fought contest. The election, two weeks from Tuesday, is crucial at the county level because control of both the executive office and Freeholder Board is at stake.

Tedesco's lawsuit named Donovan, her campaign, its treasurer, the firm that produced the ad and the New Jersey State Republican Committee as defendants.

It quotes the Donovan ad as stating, "This is a phony newscast from disgraced candidate Jim Tedesco" while showing a clip from Tedesco's 30-second attack ad.

"Tedesco's lying because the real press reports he's caught up in a corruption scandal," the ad continued. …

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