Update: I spoke with Chairman Perr last night, and he doesn’t agree with this characterization. Perr said that any campaign that asks has equal access to the Mt Laurel office space. The email from Michael Muller, the NJ Clinton campaign director, said that “the Burlington County Democratic Committee will host phone banks at their headquarters, 7000 Atrium Way in Mount Laurel, to help spread Hillary’s message of change” so I take them at their word that they will also host phone banks for the Edwards or Obama campaigns. Has anyone requested to use the space and resources?
Also, two more BurlCo municipal chairs chimed in on the situation. One said that they never received the emails we noted below:
“It gets even worse – the County Dem Officers DO NOT EVEN HAVE THE DECENCY to send their emails to all County Committee Chairs… the emails from Jan 2 and Jan 9 that you cite never even arrived here…[…]… this is maddening – and does nothing to encourage party building at any level…”
This agrees with what Perr said. The emails were sent to the chair and vice chair’s personal contacts, not the whole county committee (it wasn’t clear to me if such an email list exists) or even all the municipal chairs.
“I am one of those in Burlco who was not pleased by the lack of Democracy in the decision to endorse Hillary. Chairman Perr talks about transparency, but the process to choose Hillary was completely opaque. I invite you to visit our County website http://www.burlcodems.com/cale… and check the Calendar. As of right now there are NO Committee meetings listed. Our bylaws state that we should conduct meetings monthly.”
Although the Burlington County Democratic Committee has never voted to endorse anyone for the presidential primary, party leadership has decided to devote the county party’s resources to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Many rank and file County Committee members are not happy.
On Wednesday, January 2nd, Chairman Rick Perr emailed Democrats to announce the “kick-off the Hillary Clinton campaign office” in their Mount Laurel office.
On Wednesday, January 9th, Vice Chairwoman Alice Furia forwarded a Clinton campaign email and urged members to “Please volunteer” for a Clinton phone bank. The Clinton email read in part: “Starting Monday, the Burlington County Democratic Committee will host phone banks at their headquarters, 7000 Atrium Way in Mount Laurel, to help spread Hillary’s message of change.”
This comes just weeks after Perr penned an editorial in the Burlington County Times supporting Senators Diane Allen and Loretta Weinberg’s legislation for more transparency in the political process:
I firmly believe the strength of our governmental institutions, including our political parties, which are intricately intertwined in our government, derives in large part from its transparency, openness and adherence to a set of rules and standards upon which the informed and uninitiated alike can rely. […]
We add to voter apathy when we continue to send signals that government and the political parties are closed to everyone but the well-connected.
Several Burlington County Democrats say there was no transparency in how this happened. Though Perr and Furia support Clinton, the county committee was never asked for its input. Still, the Mt Laurel Democratic headquarters have been turned into Clinton headquarters and the only emails that have been sent out have been in support of Clinton.
This isn’t the way democracy is supposed to work. The state party tried to stack the deck for Clinton by asking that she be put at the top of every ballot, and once it became public knowledge, the plan backfired and they reversed course. Burlington County’s leadership apparently didn’t get that memo.
In contrast, the Middlesex Democrats – despite leadership being strongly for Clinton – sent this out to their members:
Dear Middlesex County Voter,
I am writing today to give you information on how to get involved with the presidential campaigns here in Middlesex County. The two Presidential campaigns that have Offices in Middlesex County are the Hillary for President Campaign and the Obama for President Campaign.
Both campaigns are looking for people to volunteer their time for phone banking, canvassing and GOTV. No matter who you support please volunteer your time.
(their emphasis, not mine) The contact info for both campaigns was provided. That’s how democracy should work and the Middlesex County Democrats deserve a lot of credit for this, particularly considering that they’re potentially turning out volunteers for a candidate the leadership does not support.
On the other hand, what Burlington County is doing is undemocratic and disrespectful of the rank and file party members – regardless of who they support. It’s happening all over the state, and in many cases, the leadership is out of touch with the grassroots. If it’s happening in your neck of the woods, let us know.
Update (from the comments):
Naughty: Hunterdon County
Nice: Morris County, Atlantic County