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:
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 nj.com. 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.