Voter Fraud Alleged in Hoboken’s 4th Ward Race

In Hoboken’s 4th Ward, candidate Michael Lenz today filed a complaint and order to show cause with New Jersey Superior Court, charging that voters were paid to cast Vote-by-Mail ballots – essentially paid for their votes – according to a Lenz campaign release in The Hoboken Journal.

Working through the details of this:

  • 3 residents of Ward 4 swore out affidavits saying they were offered “$40 as an incentive to vote absentee” (read them here, beginning page 84)
  • In Occhipinti’s 10/25 ELEC report, there are a series of $40 payouts in two sequential groupings. Under Schedule 1(D) – Disbursements, there are 36 payouts of $40 each to individuals beginning on page 13 of 37, then another group of $40 payouts to 43 people begins on page 21 of 37. Each recipient of the $40 is categorized: ADMIN: PERSONNEL/SALARY/TAXES – CAMPAIGN WORKER. Addresses are at or near Housing Authority residences, where some of the city’s poorest live.
  • Crossing the list of those getting $40 payouts with the list provided by the county of vote-by-mail records show 79 of 80 campaign workers have indeed voted by mail. Occhipinti spokesman David Cruz calls this an “anomaly”.

    Two long-time Hoboken political players are named in the affidavits as involved; Matt Calicchio, and Frank Raia. Raia has denied wrongdoing. Occhipinti spokesman Cruz says their campaign did have people sign affidavits but they were in essence employment contracts for such services as wearing campaign tee-shirts, handing out flyers and “talking up the candidate.”

    The finger-pointing goes both ways. Yesterday, the Occhipinti campaign released a statement accusing Lenz of taking $1,000 in campaign contributions from two developers in exchange for a favorable vote on a zoning variance, according to Occhipinti has called for an investigation by both Attorney General Paula Dow and US Attorney Paul Fishman. Lenz wrote to Dow two weeks ago asking her office to supervise the election to avoid ballot fraud.

    For anyone outside Hudson County, this all seems like madness. For anyone inside Hudson County, it may feel maddeningly familiar. This may end up having to be untangled by the Attorney General or the court. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the fact both campaigns are hurling accusations doesn’t mean they’re both dirty. If you were running a dirty campaign, and word was out, what’s the first thing you’d do? Right. You’d sharpen up that finger and get it ready to point.

  • Comments (4)

    1. Hopeful

      It sure sounds to me like absentee voter fraud.  We’ve seen it in Essex County, Atlantic County, and Salem County so why not in Hudson County — though here we see payoffs instead of outright fraud. It’s probably a big problem.

    2. Fielding Mellish

      Frank Raia was working with Dawn Zimmer in her first council race in 2007. He was heavily involved with her gotv operation and absentee ballots. this is the race that had a run-off and then a re-do after the courts got involved.

      Do Lenz and Zimmer really want to open that can of worms?

    3. HobokenSchmo

      Goldberg said he welcomes any investigation, and said that in the event that anybody committed voter fraud it “definitely wasn’t sanctioned by the campaign.”

      So now even Occhipinti’s lawyer admits fraud may have occurred but is separating himself from it. The plot thickens.

    4. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      That’s what I think too. I’d bet the Occhipinti side’s accusations are an attempt at obfuscation.


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