Tag Archive: Mike Ferguson

Will the Congressional Redistricting Commission give Joe Cryan a golden parachute to Washington?

Unless a miracle takes place this Tuesday and Republicans in LD1, LD3, and LD4 pull off major upsets, South Jersey party boss, George Norcross, will have more than enough votes to replace his primary adversary in the Assembly, Majority Leader Joe Cryan, with his top ally in the legislative body, Louis Greenwald, sending Cryan to the back bench.

What remains to be seen, however, is what Cryan will do once he is sent there.  Will he unite with his fellow back bencher in the Senate, Dick Codey, to build an opposition movement that will contend not only for the Governor’s office in 2013, but also all 120 legislative seats?  As much as I would love to see this, I do not expect that this will happen.  It is very possible that Dick Codey will run for Governor in 2013, but it is also possible that Cory Booker, Barbara Buono, and Steve Sweeney will run as well and it is unlikely that any of them will run opposition slates against the party lines that they do not win, which means that regardless of who wins the gubernatorial primary, there will not be much change in the legislative roster or its leadership.

If I am right about this, then Cryan will most likely remain on the back bench for most of the next decade.  That is, unless he finds a new office for which to run or that office finds him.  There have been times in the past decade when Cryan expressed an interest in running for Congress in the 7th district, but admitted that the current configuration of the district made it extremely difficult for a Democrat to win.

This is very true.  Our best chance to win this district came in 2006 when a very popular Assemblywoman, Linda Stender, challenged a very unpopular Congressman Mike Ferguson in a year that Democrats were trending up and Republicans were trending down.  However, despite these trends, Stender came a few thousand votes short of victory.  Two years later, Stender did not run as strong of a campaign as she did in 2006 and faced a very popular State Senator, Leonard Lance.  Despite huge turnout increases inspired by Barack Obama’s candidacy, it was not enough for a Democrat to win the 7th and Lance defeated Stender by a much wider margin than Ferguson did two years earlier.

(D)eform Jersey Now

“Groups like Reform Jersey Now are simply fronts for their political parties. They should be subject to the state’s financial disclosure laws. And they should have to live by the same pay-to-play laws that political parties do.” – Sen. President Sweeney (July 7, 2010)

It was in June when we first heard about Reform Jersey Now (RJN). On the airwaves it called for Speaker Oliver to hold a vote on Christie’s then 2.5% cap on property tax increases. This 501 (C) (4) organization went on to solicit $25,000 donations from persons to attend events featuring Governor Christie. It also set up its own website to accept contributions. Yet little is known about this shadow operation.

Luminaries and big time Christie donors appear on the website as members of the Advisory Board. From information on the site and the AG’s Charitable Registration Section additional names can be unearthed. As with other 501 (C) (4) groups it was possible to dig into specific records. Some statements on RJN’s site seem at odds with reality. As a (501 (C) (4) it can do extensive lobbying, engage in political campaign activity, and accept donations from any source – corporate, individual, or foreign – in unlimited amounts, including from state contractors, without disclosing the names of its donors.

RJN on its website says it is “not affiliated with any political group or committee.” However, it supports only Republican causes and Governor Christie in particular. Its Advisory Board consists of Chuck Shotmeyer, President, (a recent Christie nominee to a state commission), former Governors Whitman and DiFrancesco, former Congressman Mike Ferguson (Christie advisor), William J. Palatucci, Esq. (Christie advisor and Sr. V.P. for Community Education Centers which does extensive business with the State), and other noted fundraisers, advisors and donors: Joseph Buckelew, Mitchell Modell, David Norcross, and Candace Straight. The contact address on the website using reverse White Pages turns out to be the home of John Visconi, who previously worked on Republican Bill Baroni’s election campaign, has specialties in election law and campaign finance, and has served as Law Clerk at Michael J. Lunga, Esq., LLC.

The RJN website unsurprisingly features photos and videos of Christie and promotes his policies. In the donation section the site says recent contributions were “dedicated to its public policy purpose.” It also indicates, “Information filed with the Attorney General concerning this solicitation and the percentage of contributions received may be obtained from the N. J. Attorney General.” However, RJN’s AG file (Charity Registration Number: CH3286200) indicates no reported income nor expenses. The file does provide an RJN address which turns out to be the home of Ronald Gravino, another nominee for a state commission, who served as Treasurer for Christie’s campaign. Further checking with N. J. Election Law Enforcement Committee’s campaign financing and lobbying disclosure site and Guidestar’s IRS data site provided no reporting of financials nor any records for RJN.

The above sheds more light on this shadow group, but indicates it still operates in almost darkness. As Sen. Barbara Buono said, “Groups like Reform Jersey Now need to live up to a higher ethical standard.” Democratic State Party Chairman Wisniewski has stated, “Any Republicans that claim interest in reform should immediately demand that Reform Jersey Now release its donors and expenditures.” In addition to federal action on 501 (C) (4)’s, it’s time for the NJ legislature to shine a spotlight on this organization, which by its secrecy is deforming rather than reforming Jersey.

What’s Left In The Tank?

On NPR this morning they had a report on leadership PACs of retiring members of Congress and how many retirees use them as slush funds.  So I decided to look into our two retirees (so far), Jim Saxton (NJ3) and Mike Ferguson (NJ7).

Jim Saxton has SAXPAC, which has been closed down with $0 cash on hand after expenditures of $13,000 fro legal fees (anyone know what that’s about?), $8,000 to a election compliance specialist (was there an issue that might deal with lawyers and election compliance?), $5,000 to Chris Meyers and $5,000 to Duncan Hunter’s run for President.  Really.

Ferguson is a little harder to write out, but we’ll try.  His Mike PAC is still open, but only has about $1800 left after a little less than $95,000 in expenditures since the last election.  He’s got a lot of $1,000 contributions to local campaigns and out-of-state members of Congress, with only Chris Smith seeing any House money in state.

$20,000 went to the Somerset Republicans, $8500 to the Hunterdon Republicans, and $1,000 to Union County.

On the other hand, Saxton has over a million dollars in the bank and Fergie has about $250,000.

So there’s a lot of money in the campaign war chests even if the PACs are dead.  I wonder if they’ll use them for anything.

Rep. Mike Ferguson: I Failed At My Job

About a year before Mike Ferguson won his seat in Congress seven towns in Somerset County were devastated by Hurricane Floyd.  Many towns are still recovering, others have bridges yet to be repaired.  Almost a decade later things are still problematic after Floyd.

A little over a year ago we got nailed by the unnamed Nor-Easter, and Bound Brook, South Bound Brook and Manville got nailed again.  Ferguson was still Congressman.

When Ferguson got the job, his district flooded.  When Ferguson walks away, it’ll still flooding.

And this is what he says:

“We’re working with the senators,”‘ Ferguson said about the state’s two senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez.

Back when he was Tom DeLay’s favorite congressman, taking in more than a quarter million from DeLay, his PACs and his cronies, Ferguson couldn’t get crap for his district.  Back when the President was coming to town to party over the spectre of the destruction of Social Security, Ferguson got nada.  Back when Republicans could do anything they wanted with boogey-man threats, Ferguson got nothing.

Now that the Democrats control Congress suddenly last year we got more than ever before, and he’s “working” with our Democratic Senators to get $10 million, $20 million for the project.

The difference is not Ferguson, it’s the party in charge.

Think about that when you vote in November, all my friends in the 7th district.  Leonard Lance may be a nice guy with some environmental votes in his pocket, but he’s still a Republican and they don’t give a damn if your town drowns.

It’s the Democrats who are there for you, and the ones who will help.

This ain’t 2003!!!

New Jersey Republican Congressmen Scott Garrett, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Mike Ferguson, and Jim Saxton sent a resounding message to the unemployed  yesterday.  That message is, “This ain’t 2003!!!”

You see, back in 2003, when Republicans controlled the House, Republicans extended unemployment benefits by a vote of 416 to 4.  Only Scott Garrett hated the unemployed enough to vote against extending benefits at that time.  Ferguson, Frelinghuysen, and Saxton voted for the $7.2 billion bill.  That was when the national unemployment rate was 6.0 percent.

Fast forward to this year.  The unemployment rate now stands at 5.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  As of last month, New Jersey’s unemployment rate was 5.0%.  The bill would cost $11 billion over ten years.

So there are two possible explanations for Ferguson, Frelinghuysen, and Saxton: Either the economy just isn’t bad enough or the bill isn’t Republican enough.  Either way, they owe it to their constituents to explain their action.  Something that was right in 2003 can’t just be wrong in 2008.

New Jersey Republicans try to kill Amtrak

I’d tell you how important Amtrak is, but Rush Holt said it better:

“It is no exaggeration to say that rail service is the lifeline from which New Jersey’s state economy draws nourishment.  Our region’s employers – small, medium, and large – depend upon an integrated rail operation to enable many of their employees to get to and from work,” Holt said. “The continued operation of Amtrak is an essential component of easing traffic congestion, reducing wear and tear on roads, protecting our environment and preserving open space in New Jersey and across the country.”

That’s why all thirteen New Jersey Congressmen voted for the “Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act” — though unfortunately it faces a Bush veto.  Still, as far as New Jersey is concerned, it’s a lovely story of bipartisanship — we may even read about it in the papers tomorrow.

But it’s a happy story only if you just look at House Vote 400.  Moments before, in House Vote 399, all six New Jersey Republicans tried to kill the bill by voting to “recommit with instructions.”  

Their names are Mike Ferguson, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Scott Garrett, Frank LoBiondo, Jim Saxton, and Christopher Smith, and when you’re not paying attention, they do what Bush says.  

Garrett wants to leave Congress

Last week, the Republicans became so desperate to prevent Congress from addressing the mortgage crisis or funding the war (really!), that they resorted to repeatedly calling for votes to adjourn.  And what hard-core right-wingers went along with the call to quit without finishing their job?  

  • Mike Ferguson, who’s quitting Congress this year.

  • Jim Saxton, who’s quitting Congress this year.

  • Scott Garrett, who’s seeking to return next year.

    Here are Garrett’s votes to disrupt Congress, all on the single day of May 7th: House Vote 291, 286, 280, 279, 276, 273, 271, and 267.  

    If Garrett is so eager to leave, we should help oblige him.  No other New Jersey Republican who wants to keep his job has the nerve to act this way.

  • GOP Senate Primary – Disclosure Doesn’t Pay

    The Bergen Record has an op-ed today scripted by George Ajjan – who is described as:

    George Ajjan is a Republican activist, writer and pundit who was the GOP nominee for Congress in the 8th District in 2004.

    There’s only one thing wrong with that description (that I’ll focus on here) – it’s incomplete to the point of being misleading and dishonest.  George Ajjan is working for Murray Sabrin, as is evidenced by his name on Sabrin’s press releases.

    I give the Record credit for being evenhanded – they have an op-ed for each of the candidates for the GOP.  It’s almost as if they looked for the worst possible people to do it, though.  For example – Mike Ferguson writing for Dick Zimmer.  

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    Today is the day to remember and thank all the mothers in your life.  

    Once you’ve done so, also take a moment to remember Rodney Frelinghuysen, Scott Garrett, Frank LoBiondo, Chris Smith, Jim Saxton, and Mike Ferguson, who voted against Celebrating the Role of Mothers in the United States and Supporting the Goals and Ideals of Mother’s Day.  If you ask them, they might explain that they are not against mothers at all, but instead are trying to tie up Congress so it can’t accomplish anything.  Four of them go before voters in November as they seek to do the same next year.

    Hello, Kettle? May I Introduce You to Pot?

    Mike Ferguson, no stranger to hypocrisy or campaign trickery, came up with a beauty in the Courier News today.  Apparently Kate Whitman, who wants to succeed Fergie in the House, put out an ad that accused state Senator and former state Senate minority leader Leonard Lance of being responsible for the problems in Trenton.  

    It is eerily similar to Ferguson’s “Stender is a Spender” campaign from 2006 where he blamed Assemblywoman Linda Stender for everything that happened in Trenton even if Stender voted against it.

    But apparently it’s OK to blast Democratic state legislators for being part of the mess in Trenton, but not the Republicans.  At least in Fergie world.

    “I was very disappointed to see Kate’s ad, because it’s false, it’s misleading, it’s a complete distortion of Senator Lance’s record,” said Ferguson, calling Lance a “taxpayer’s champion in Trenton for years.”

    Yeah, the most powerful Republican in the state government for years and he’s a champion.  And how about the incredible debt run up under Lance’s watch while they controlled state government and Whitman was governor?  Was that debt championing the taxpayers?

    And blaming Linda Stender for actions in Trenton she voted against wasn’t distorting the record?  Wasn’t that “false, it’s misleading, it’s a complete distortion of [the] record?’