Tag Archive: Joe DiVincenzo

I wonder what Chris Christie says about this.

ELEC, the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission, has issued a 32-page report detailing alleged misuse of campaign funds by the lynchpin of a considerable chunk of Chris Christie’s “Democratic and “bipartisan” support for re-election.

Download the 32-page document here.

ELEC is charging that Essex County political boss Joe DiVincenzo failed to disclose 614 campaign expenditures over two years from 2010 to 2012. That’s $71,810 worth of money people gave to elect him, spent instead on himself; vacations, tickets to big sports events, and personal expenses. And in expenditures he did disclose, that he spent campaign money to the tune of more than $16k – in 51 purchases – for things like gym memberships, a trip, and more sporting events.

Of further concern, Joe D continues to disclose how he spent much of the money, which was designated on required state forms only as reimbursements to a personal credit card. It’s a long-standing problem; these charges relate to his 2010 general election ELEC report. And his 2014 Democratic Primary report.

Joe D is hardly the first politician – or the first Democrat – to require official watchdogs to investigate them for spending their supporters’ money on themselves. But you’d think Christie, the law-and-order man, would have better radar. It’s a classy group of “Democrats” behind the Governor.  

Bullshit on the Ground, Reality Up in the Air

I laugh when people call Blue Jersey – 8 years old tomorrow –  “the Democratic blog.” As though we work for the party (um, no). As though whatever the Democrats are, that’s what we support. It’s true that we’re electorally-focused. And that as election day approacheth we’re inclined to point out stark differences between the Democrat and Republican on the ballot. Also true that many of us here are ‘players’ in one capacity or another, and deeply invested in the direction of the Democratic Party. When we defend somebody like Cory Booker 19 days out from an election, we take considerable crap for that from good people more acutely focused on his faults. We’ll live with that.

But the New Jersey Democratic Party has been in trouble for a long time. It’s lost its soul, and some of its practitioners routinely betray its bedrock values. There are still good people, still good work going on, and still magnificent efforts and candidates to put our powers behind. We’re in that game, as much as we’re about fighting Republicans.  

Joe D’s in some other game, and he’s long gone. And I think whoever hired this plane and flew over a Joe DiVincenzo/Chris Christie event yesterday is slamming awesome.

Plane: Real Democrats Don't Support Christie

What’s Happening Today Tue. 09/24/2013

Fuzzy Teddy Bear vs. Pit Bull: While U. S. Senate candidate Cory Booker has portrayed himself as above the fray, sometimes aloof with an inexhaustible number of fuzzy quotes that appear on his Facebook page, Republican Steve Lonegan has been tenacious, even ruthless, in stalking his prey even in Booker’s habitat of Newark. Today’s Quinnipiac University Poll finds “Booker leads Lonegan 53 – 41 percent among likely voters in the U.S. Senate race, closer than expected given Booker’s wide lead among registered voters last month.” However, don’t underestimate the importance of Booker’s huge warchest and staff, for even while he is out fundraising his people are mounting a substantial ground game. Nonetheless, for some who may not like him, consider the alternative: a pit bull, who once seated as a Senator becomes extremely difficult to dislodge, and one who will seek to destroy so much that progressives and moderates support.  

Public Schedules (your opportunity to jeer or cheer)

Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Barbara Buono: 8:00am, The Hoboken Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Council, Teak On The Hudson, 16 Hudson Pl., Hoboken; Barbara Buono: 2:-00pm, with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, New Brunswick Voter Registration Event, Rutgers University, Brower Commons, 145 College Ave., New Brunswick; Barbara Buono: 4:00pm, NJEA Fall Focus Program, The Westwood, 438 North Ave., Garwood.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Chris Christie: 10:45am, dedication of Union Township train station in honor of the late U.S. Rep. Bob Franks; Christie: 12:00 noon, Richard J. Codey Arena, remarks at Essex County Senior Wellness Day, West Orange; (Will he make a comment about his not so good friend Sen. Codey?); afterward a walk through the Orange downtown business district with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and Mayor Dwayne Warren.

U. S. Senate candidate Cory Booker: Deval Patrick is in New Jersey, as the press reports, stumping “for” (not “with”) Cory Booker. Booker had a celebrity high-dollar fundraiser last night in L. A, and he has two scheduled events tomorrow in New Jersey. However, it’s unclear as to whether he will accompany Patrick at any of the below events. Patrick is using money from his political action committee to pay for this trip.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick: 9:30am, visits with seniors at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center, Willinboro; 12:00 Noon, rally with Princeton University College Democrats and the American Whig-Cliosophic Society; 2:00pm, with Barbara Buono (see above); 5:30pm, Essex County Democratic Committee meeting, East Orange.  

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.: 10:00am, news conference on the upcoming enrollment period for New Jersey’s health insurance marketplace, PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital, New Brunswick. The often complicated and confusing enrollment, which can benefit so many New Jerseyans, starts October 1 – underfunded with little support from Christie.

U. S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan: 6:45pm reception and 7:30pm, speaking at the Rebovich Institute for NJ Politics, Rider University, Yvonne Theater, Fine Arts Building, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville. (An opportunity to question Lonegan: RSVP to Susan Cuccia at 609-896-5350 or scuccia@rider.edu. free and open to the public.)

Open thread: Add an event taking place today of interest to our readers or email items for this column the evening before to BillOrr563@gmail.com

Waiting for Codey: Why a Primary Election Would Be Good for Democrats and Democratic Candidates

As Barbara Buono’s gubernatorial candidacy continues to pick up steam with endorsements from party leaders in Monmouth and Somerset Counties in addition to her home county of Middlesex as well as positive statements from political machine bosses like Joe DiVincenzo and George Norcross, it appears as if the only thing standing between her and the Democratic nomination is our state’s former Acting Governor, Richard Codey who is currently considering a gubernatorial run of his own and has been talking to the Democratic Governors Association and national labor leaders to gauge how much money they would be willing to commit to help him take on Chris Christie in the fall if he was successful in becoming the Democratic nominee.

Codey’s delay in making a decision is clearly a product of Cory Booker’s decision to take far too much time to tell the rest of us what many of us already knew, which was that there was no way that he was going to put his political career on the line in a tough battle against Chris Christie when he could run for the United States Senate next year and have a much easier path to victory (that is, unless Frank Lautenberg, Frank Pallone, and/or Steve Sweeney decide to stand in his way) and while credit should be given to Buono for being willing to put her political career on the line before New Jersey’s answer to LeBron James got around to making his big decision and the impatience being expressed by many in the Democratic Party is understandable and as much as I would love to see this primary election season get underway, I believe that Codey should be given sufficient space and time (until the end of the month) to make what amounts to the most important decision of his political career.

There are many good reasons why Codey deserves this.  First and foremost amongst these is the fact that throughout his distinguished political career, he has set the standard for good governance and political independence.  He has also been a good and loyal Democrat.  When he was Acting Governor, he could (and probably should) have challenged Jon Corzine for the Democratic nomination in 2005.  He would have had nothing to lose by running that year.  Even if he had lost, he would have still been a State Senator and would have most likely remained Senate President.  But he was more interested in governing well than campaigning for Governor and coming on the heels of the McGreevey scandals, he wanted the Democratic Party to be united behind a single candidate going into the general election.

CEC Investigation: The Puppeteer and His Puppets – Part VI

“The allegations of civil rights and corrupt government and contractor practices [at halfway houses] are very serious and disturbing. There is a political circle of individuals and relationships that basically controls State government and certain local governments. This circle conspires to protect itself and its members from appropriate oversight and accountability. This practice must end.” – Senator Ronald Rice (D-28)

Key members of this circle are CEC Founder & CEO John Clancy, Governor Christie, and CEC Senior Vice President and Christie confidante William Palatucci. Another member is Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, about whom much has been written regarding Delaney Hall, immigration detention, Essex County Jail, and CEC campaign contributions. But that is an Essex County story which may not feature in the July Senate and Assembly investigations of State Department of Corrections (DOC) ccontracts. Yet another story revealed by Blue Jersey was CEC’s mismanagement at Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado. For CEC the malfeasance involves contracts with NJ state, local government, and other states.

The nexus of Clancy, Christie, and Palatucci

Puppeteer: Let’s call Founder John Clancy the puppeteer. The origins of CEC go back to 1979 when he was a youth services county employee and decided there was money to be made through drug and alcohol treatment for those incarcerated. He was so successful that in 2007 private equity firms Primus Capital and LLR Partners invested $53 million in Community Education Centers. Primus boasted that CEC was “the nation’s largest provider of offender re-entry services with 97 facilities in 22 states and revenues in excess of $200 million.” Today CEC is even larger thanks to a little help from his puppets.

Puppets and what they do

Chris Christie joined the law firm of Dughi & Hewitt in 1987 which represented CEC. “It appears that between 1994 an 1996, CEC made good use of its legal counsel and most likely, its political connections, to strike a deal with the AG’s office to allow CEC to use Education and Health Centers of America (EHCA) as a shell to comply with the state’s legal requirement that only non-profits can hold contracts with the state to operate halfway houses.” Perhaps, it was just coincidental that another member of the law firm at the time was William Palatucci, who had joined in 1992. Fast-forward to 2011 when EHCA’s Form 990 (NJ non profit tax return) indicates that on $71 million in revenue from our state and local governments, $350,000 was spent on John Clancy’s compensation as Chair of EHCA, exclusive of whatever he received from CEC.

In 2000 and 2001 both Christie and Palatucci were registered lobbyists for CEC. In 2005, after representing CEC for 14 years, Palatucci joined the company as its Senior Vice President and General Counsel. His ongoing close relationship with Christie includes helping run Christie’s gubernatorial campaign, serving as co-chair of the governor’s inaugural committee, sitting on the board of Reform Jersey Now which raised money to promote Christie policies, and being a member of the Legislative Apportionment Commission.

As US Attorney, Christie attended the ribbon cutting ceremony in 2007 for CEC‟s new corporate headquarters and the ten year anniversary celebration in 2008 of Talbot Hall. By 2008 with lots of cash, a U.S. attorney as a friend, a well-connected legal V.P., a dubious, sweet-heart deal on EHCA, little DOC oversight, and weak competitors, Clancy must have been asking himself, “What’s not to like?”

But it gets even better for Clancy thanks to more help… also warning signs… and let’s not forget CEC donations beyond the fold  

The Fog of Battle in the 10th CD

Although on the surface all appears quiet on the CD 10 front, a battle is brewing underneath and soon to come to a head. None of the three leading candidates, County Freeholder President  and Newark Councilman Donald Payne Jr, Montclair Senator Nia Gill and Newark Councilman Ron Rice, are waging a public, news-attracting battle. Only Rice has registered with the Federal Election Commission. Nonetheless, to run in the primary each must submit a petition by April 2.

To stand a chance to win the primary and thus ultimately the election, each seeks Line A support from one or more county Democratic committees. For several weeks it has appeared that Essex County political boss Steve Adubato, County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and County Committee Chair Philip Thigpen (a Payne cousin) want to crown the legacy candidate Donald Payne, Jr. They view him as one whose name recognition makes him the most electable and one who is in support of their regime. With 57% of CD 10 in Essex this gives them and Donald Payne a substantial advantage. Hudson has 23% and Union has 20%. Senator Gill has support from Union’s political boss Senator Ray Lesniak and is seeking support in Hudson and Essex counties. Councilman Rice has campaigned in Hudson and Essex Counties and seeks support in Union as well. Whether Union and Hudson will make peace with Essex and bow to Essex’s wishes remains unclear.

Councilman Rice has an enviable progressive record and is well-known in Newark and the county. Senator Gill also has a strong progressive record, a history of taking on the Essex machine, and as a female would add an important component to our congressional delegation. Donald Payne, Jr. prior to elected office served in the New Jersey Highway Authority in the tolls division, worked at the Essex County Educational Services Commission as a school bus monitor and eventually supervisor of student transportation. For 20 years he carried out Democratic party tasks in the South Ward. It is hard to discern any distinguished contributions he has made as either Councilman or Freeholder President.

The fog of battle will clear shortly, and both Union and Hudson may bow to the wishes of Essex and provide a unified front. If endorsed by all three counties, Donald Payne, Jr. would be the winning candidate and maintain this seat in Democratic hands. (The seat would also be in the hands of the Essex machine.) The more independent Councilman Ronald C. Rice or Senator Nia Gill would bring a more distinguished record and more progressive values, but they have a tougher battle.  

“No Retreat, No Surrender” To Essex Co. Immigration Detention Expansion

“The history of immigration detention in New Jersey includes a myriad of cases of abuse, including a number of shocking deaths, a culture of secrecy and lack of transparency. What is driving local governments and corporations to embrace the expansion of immigration detention is money. The political situation in Essex County does not lend itself to oversight. CEC has been skirting both pay to pay regulation and campaign donation disclosure requirements through a shell game where EHCA holds the contract but CEC runs the facilities and nets the lion’s share of the profits.” – Essex County Immigration Detention Expansion, an Invitation for Abuse by the New Jersey Advocates For Immigrant Detainees and Enlace

The 19-page Invitation to Abuse Report lays bare in sickening detail the underbelly of immigration detention in New Jersey. Using links and charts it not only provides shocking support for claims of lobbying, cronyism, and malfeasance, but also becomes a clarion call for reform.  

The report addresses:

  •  NJ State Comptroller’s Reports

  •  Essex County Lack of Oversight

  •  Essex County Overstated Profits, Externalized & Underestimated Costs

  •  Joe DiVincenzo, Essex County & NJ Politics

  •  Joe DiVincenzo, Essex County Jail & Community Education Center (CEC)

  •  Bill Palatucci and CEC- Straddling Politics and Busines

  •  Delaney Hall

  •  CEC’s Campaign Contributions

  •  Preventable Deaths of People in CEC’s Custody

    On December 14  the Essex County Freeholders voted unanimously to approve a subcontract with Education & Health Centers of America (EHCA) to house immigrant detainees despite being presented with a petition that  had over 3000 signatures on-line and 1,000 in hard copy. The report documents why this vote must be rescinded, New Jersey’s immigration detention business must be reformed, and laws need to be changed.

    This “smoking gun” report, with which Joe DiVicenzo and an EHCA spokesperson disagree, forms the basis for a continued call to arms. Kathy O’Leary (Pax Christi NJ) and Karina Wilkinson (Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights) have led this NJ effort. They are now in the midst of getting the report into the hands of state and local legislators, advocating for an Inmate Oversight Committee and planning future actions. Their attitude, against all odds but with a lot of work, has always been: “No retreat, no surrender.” For more information go to An Invitation to Abuse Report and Pax Christi NJ facebook.  

  • Election Day News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011

    Today’s the Day!

    Vote Today 

     Shuffling the Deck Chairs

     Other Political News

     Christie is Consistent in his Inconsistency

     Victory in the Battle of Trenton


    The Next Election

     I Miss NJN

     New Jersey Parks

     New Jersey Roads

     Is Scarlet Fever the Cure for Penn State’s Offense?

     The Chutzpah Award goes to…




    Will The Essex County Freeholders trade the liberty & well being of 1200 people for $50 mill?

    promoted by Rosi

    The Essex County Freeholders have placed a resolution on the agenda for the 9/7 meeting to approve a new contract with ICE that would increase the number of immigration detainees at the Essex County Jail and Delaney Hall to 1200.  

    According to the Essex County Executive, Joe DiVincenzo, this contract is a “home run” because it would generate $50 million/year in revenue for the county.  However there has been no discussion of the human misery that will be inflicted in order to realize this financial benefit.  

    Joe DiVincenzo Cancels Clancy/Palatucci CEC Bid on Immigration Detention Facility

    A highly unusual turn of events has just occurred  in the politics of Essex County, federal immigration detention plans, the commercial world of Community Education Centers (CEC),  pay-to-play activities, and suspect contracting procedures. As the Star-Ledger reported on Thursday, Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced it had signed a new five year, $50 million contract with Essex County that would triple the number of federal immigration detainees being held in the county jail system. The new contract was designed to give ICE access to 800 beds at the county’s Newark jail and up to 450 beds at adjacent Delaney Hall. Education and Health Centers of America (EHCA), a non-profit shell agency, subcontracts its work to for-profit CEC which owns and operates Delaney Hall. EHCA was the winner and sole bidder in an accelerated, flawed county bidding process for the 450-bed portion of the ICE agreement.