Bloomfield’s Venezia Team Asks Essex County Prosecutor To Investigate Alleged Voter Suppression

Bloomfield Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Venezia and his council at-large running mates Joe Lopez, Wartyna “Nina” Davis and Carlos Pomares have called a press conference today in the parking lot behind Bloomfield Police Headquarters and have shared a letter asking Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray to investigate what they believe to be possible voter suppression attributed to Line B Republicans.

Venezia, who is backed by Essex County executive Joe DiVincenzo (who also backed Chris Christie) and Milly Silva, and his team obtained a a flyer attributed to Line B Republicans and contains possible voter disenfranchisement language.

According to Venezia, the flyer which was sent via U.S. mail, states “because of the increase in the crime rate here in Bloomfield, Line B is asking all voters to be extra careful when leaving your home to vote.” It also urges Bloomfield voters to, among other things, “stay safe on Election Day” and to “never tell anyone if you voted.”

Copies of the flyer and its envelope were given to Venezia Team candidates by residents while they were campaigning door to door on Saturday.

“The message contained in the flyer is designed to confuse voters,” Venezia says. “Our LINE – A team was campaigning door to door throughout the entire town on Saturday and only voters residing in areas with a concentration of minorities received this flyer. This clearly shows the intent is to scare and confuse minorities right before Election Day.”

The press release also includes a quote from Bloomfield Police Chief Chris Goul, saying:

“It is disheartening that our police department has been portrayed as being ineffective against crime in a political flyer. The fine men and women under my command give the residents of Bloomfield one hundred percent effort day in and day out. The reality is, thanks to their efforts, the crime rate in Bloomfield is down nearly 4 percent in 2013.”

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28 COMMENTS

  1. The Citizens of Bloomfield facebook page has all but been hijacked with negative posts about Venezia – some of legitimate issues, some over truly trivia crap like flyers being put in mailboxes and not sent thru the mail.

    The mentioned gripe about flyers in mailboxes happened in what feels like a timed sequence of events where a Team Russ flyer arrived in my mailbox with the needed and legal stamp on it after reading all about some people’s outrage over the other guys volunteers just putting them in mailboxes.

    Now this flyer shows up and I have to be honest I think it was part of the Team Russ plan along with the attack posts on Facebook, and the hand wringing over the south end becoming Newark, and the other negative posts from people who have not stepped a foot in the south end other than to show up at town council meetings and complain about anything and everything.

    Sadly if Team Russ isn’t responsibly for the flyers then they are screwed, as their fan base has wiped away any benefit of the doubt regarding running a positive campaign. From my view it’s 99.9% been attack the other guy and I can recall 1 post about Russ’s resume being great for Bloomfield.

  2. Please forgive my cynicism, but I’ll wait for more details before I trust Venezia campaign’s version of anything. It wouldn’t be beyond the GOP playbook to hand out such a flyer, but it certainly wouldn’t be beyond the county democratic machine playbook to make up stuff like this.

    “This is so outragious, it calls for a press conference.”

    The race is close, vote the issues, ignore the noise.

  3. If this is really a flyer from the Republicans, this is reason enough to vote against them. This reads like it was written by a distracted second grader.

  4. Honestly, I might take from this that the GOP may be closer than the democrats like and they are nervous. A claim of voter fraud would be a great thing to get cross over dems like myself to not vote for republicans.

    Wow, I’ve really gotten cynical in my middle age.

  5. I saw this on the patch too and they (the R’s) in no way denied they put it out. They said something along the lines of claiming it was about safety. So one would assume if they really had nothing to do with it they would have been much more outraged at the whole situation. Guess they didn’t think it would backfire the way it has, but I’m not sure how they could have ever thought it would be a good idea.

  6. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this as a fabrication. What is not mentioned in this post is that the envelope in which this flyer arrived also contained Mollica campaign literature. I know that because a recipient of the mailing passed it along to me with all the contents.

    The Republicans and their supporters have been waging an incredibly negative campaign over the past several weeks, resorting to scare tactics, conspiracy theories, character assassination and just plain petty vindictiveness (as evidenced by their behavior on the “Citizens of Bloomfield” Facebook page. They now seem to be going into overdrive with their negative messaging.

    I’m cynical, but not to the point where I think the Democrats are behind this. Word on the street is that they have a comfortable lead over the Republicans, and I can’t imagine that they would risk a last-minute controversy by pulling a stupid stunt. I think this might be evidence that the Republicans see the election slipping thru their hands, and are acting out in desperation.

  7. Some observations re Line A’s outlandish attack on a mailing from this weekend:

    1. Carlos Bernard made a big issue about crime in his 3rd ward and up a camp out.

    2. Mike Venezia then made a bigger to-do by traveling around with the cops.

    3. HOWEVER, when LINE B sent out safety suggestions re knowing who is ringing your doorbell during campaign season and not getting into stranger’s cars offering to drive a voter to the polls when they didn’t request transportation, Venezia and his sycophants accuse Line B of trying to suppress votes. Seriously?

    All the STRUMOLO DEMOCRATS are doing is trying to deflect attention from a very damning report about their campaign contributors. I worry for this township if people can’t see that.

  8. This is the report they are trying to deflect attention from:

    Another Reason Why Democrats and Independents are
    VOTING LINE B – And NOT for Venezia
    Venezia, Strumolo, Hartz Mt. Doth Protest Too Much
    By North Country Gazette On November 2, 2013

    COMMENTARY: Another investigative report by The North Country Gazette
    © By June Maxam
    BLOOMFIELD, NJ—As the calendar days march towards the Nov. 5 election and the missing campaign finance reports of Bloomfield mayoral candidate Democrat Michael Venezia continue to be an issue, lots and lots of questions are swirling.
    Why would a a coalition of churches and faith-based organizations based in south Jersey whose mission is to raise funding to provide relief and support to victims of such natural disasters as Sandy be contributing $2,600 to Team Venezia when the organization doesn’t even serve Essex County residents?

    As the developer of the controversial Hartz Mountain project in Bloomfield was fervently denying any connection between himself and the son of Bloomfield Democratic County committee chairman, he forgot to acknowledge that the planning consultant for his project, Maser Consulting, had just donated yet ANOTHER $1,250 to Team Venezia on Oct. 15, the same DAY that McCarthy’s letter appeared and less than a week before his lackey appeared before the town council to read Pere’s letter of denial because he had been “instructed” to do so.

    You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “methinks thou doth protest too much”. The line comes form Shakespeare’s Hamlet and essentially means that one can “insist so passionately about something not being true that people suspect the opposite of what one is saying”. Such is the case of the developer of Bloomfield’s controversial Hartz Mountain project and Christian Strumolo, son of the Bloomfield’s Democratic party boss Pete Strumolo. Developer Leonard Peres and the Strumolos have been protesting way too much and as Shakepeare also said, “something’s rotten in the state of Denmark” or in this case, Bloomfield.

    Mayor Ray McCarthy penned a opinion piece several weeks ago which appeared on blogs called Bloomfield Patch and Baristanet and addressed many issues but the one that stuck in the craw of the party chair and his son was McCarthy’s allegation that Venezia and Christian Strumolo had made a deal with the developer of the Hartz Mountain development for their support in exchange for a consulting position for Christian Strumolo. They fell all over themselves trying to deny the situation. One thing’s for sure, if there was any kind of deal for Christian Strumolo to obtain a consulting job, it’s been deep sixed now.

    Leonard Peres of 192 Bloomfield, LLC, developer of the Hartz Mountain property, sent a lackey to the town council meeting held Oct. 21 to read a letter Peres had written to the council, vigorously denying that any deal had been cut with the Strumolos. Neither Peres nor either of the Strumolos apparently had the balls to appear themselves.

    A cursory review of the campaign finance reports that have been filed indicates Leonard Peres himself has given $1,000 to Venzia and Andrew Hipolit of Maser Consulting has tossed in another $5,200—and that’s only what Venezia has reported up to June 27.
    Team Venezia reported that Maser Consulting of Red Bank had anted up $2,400 in March, another $2,500 to them in September and another $1,250 on Oct. 15, bringing Maser’s stake in the Venezia campaign to over $11,000 with Peres tossing in another $1,000.

    It’s unknown how much Peres, Maser, Hipolit and other vendors and developers doing business with the town have paid to Venezia and his team as Venezia is currently in violation of state law regarding the filing of campaign financial disclosure statements, not filing the last two, one due on Oct. 7 and one on Oct. 25.
    Among the contributions that he has failed to disclose are those of the $2,500 a head breakfast fundraiser he held in September.
    And there’s the $4,500 contribution to Team Venezia on Oct. 22 by “Forward Central Jersey” in Bayville, a political action committee. Google it—it maintains a low profile. Just why are these outside groups spending so much money trying to get Venezia and his group elected? https://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20131030/NJNEWS20/310300049/Central-Jersey-s-million-dollar-political-races-funded-by-outside-groups
    No wonder Venezia voted against a forensic audit of all the municipal attorneys. Assistant township attorney Steve Martino and his wife Rosalind have contributed at least $3,000 to Venezia and his team.

    Then there’s town’s general engineering consultant, Richard Alaimo Engineering Associates. Alaimo has coughed up at least $12,800 to Venezia and Team with Miles Powell of the Alaimo Group contributing $2,600. Don’t forget, Venezia still hasn’t reported the contributions he received from the end of June until now, more than four months.

    The engineering firm of Adams, Rehmann and Heggman Associates of Hammonton. They’ve chipped in nearly $8,000, that the public knows about.

    Don’t you think they all expect something in return for this generous financial support? Isn’t this called Pay to Play?
    In June, nj.com published a revealing investigative article titled “Secret Files Revela How Pay-to-Play works in NJ”, focusing on the engineering firm Birdsall Services Group and firm principal Birdsall admitting in state court to dumping loads of illegal campaign donations into the coffers of elected officials, a practice one former employee of the now bankrupt firm said “regularly won contracts” for the company.

    According to The Star-Ledger, from 2008 to early 2012, Birdsall made more than 1,000 secret contributions worth $1.05 million to candidates and political groups all over the state, including mayoral and council candidates and county freeholders. According to the Star-Ledger, during this same period, Birdsall netted his firm more than $84 million public contracts.

    “This is exactly how pay-to-play works,” said Craig Holman, who helped draft New Jersey’s pay-to-play law and who now lobbies in Washington for Public Citizen, an advocacy group. “The one side that isn’t so far being penalized are the public officials who received these contributions. If they knowingly and willfully accepted them, they must be prosecuted.”

    The Bloomfield Democratic Committee and Strumolo benefited from Birdsall’s secret donations:

    Essex Bloomfield 10/25/2009 Bloomfield Democratic Committee Annual Fall Breakfast Bloomfield Democratic Committee Dem 500 S
    Essex Bloomfield 5/13/2008 Bloomfield Democratic Committee Annual Spring Cocktail Reception Bloomfield Democratic Committee Dem 600 S
    Essex Bloomfield 6/12/2008 Bloomfield Councilwoman Janice Maly Reception Election Fund of Janice Maly Dem 125 C

    The Star-Ledger reported that other recipients of the secret contributions listed in the records included Mike Venezia’s boss, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, a Democratic boss in northern New Jersey, groups tied to South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross and Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Newark Mayor Cory Booker who has endorsed Venezia.

    In March, Birdsall and seven former executives were indicted, accused of making more than $686,000 in secret and illegal contributions.

    The firm pleaded guilty in June to charges of money laundering and making false representations for government contracts, and agreed to pay a $1 million fine in addition to $2.6 million in civil penalties. The executives have pleaded not guilty.
    Venezia’s boss, Democrat DiVincenzo who recently paved the way for Venezia obtaining a $80,000 a year job as an “administrator” with Essex County, is the subject of a 16-count complaint from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) that alleges he failed to properly report nearly $72,000 in campaign expenditures and improperly spent more than $16,000 on trips to Puerto Rico, a gym membership and other personal expenses.

    In all, the commission alleges that the Democratic Essex County Executive failed to properly report 614 expenditures and wrongly billed his campaign for at least 51 items unrelated to his candidacy.
    https://www.northjersey.com/news/Essex_County_Executive_Joseph_DiVincenzo_faces_16-count_complaint_on_campaign_violations.html

    Venezia still hasn’t filed his Oct. 7 and Oct. 25 campaign finance disclosure reports with ELEC and hasn’t disclosed the names of the donors present of the $2,500 a head breakfast fundraiser held in September.

    Pay to Play is illegal in New Jersey—-including Bloomfield. Remember that on Nov. 5.

  9. Crime is up in Bloomfield – it’s a major topic in this election and there’s even a question on the ballot about putting a mobile crime unit in the 3rd ward.

    carlos Bernard sleeps out and the police protect him -at a cost of over $2000.00 for the night. Venezia rides around for a night with the Police.

    Line B sends out a flyer saying b-safe and all hell breaks loose. Where did they send it- 3rd ward. Where is the crime highest- 3rd ward.

    You guys amaze me

  10. So it would seem that Karen and Pat admit, or at least believe, that the Mollica campaign was behind this piece.

    And please – a “safety flyer”? This was clearly at attempt at voter intimidation in the 3rd ward by making voters think that criminals were lying in wait to pounce as soon as people left their homes to vote.

    Not only that, the notice was so poorly written that it should be an embarrassment to whoever wrote it. If it was misinterpreted, that’s probably why.

  11. Pork, are you serious? Grammar, etc. aside…where do you see anything that specifically tells people NOT to go to the polls? Where do you see anything other than some suggestions for personal safety? There are too many older people who would welcome a “ride” to the polls and take that offer on face value. That’s just one example.

    Wow, maybe the real problem is too many people are too willing to read something terrible into something that was meant to be helpful. That might be the saddest fact of all to come out of this.

  12. It’s called “reading between the lines”, Karen.

    The campaign sends out a flyer telling people that “Crime is up in Bloomfield! Be careful when you leave your house!” right before Election Day. Yeah, that can be interpreted (or misinterpreted) as trying to scare people into not voting.

    There has been an increase in some street crime in the third ward, but nowhere to the point where people have to fear walking out their door on Election Day.

    The fact that you and Pat are now defending this as simply an innocent safety reminder demonstrates what a poorly-conceived and poorly-executed idea it was, because now the campaign and its supporters have to engage in damage-control rather than selling voters on the campaign’s value proposition.

    So, maybe it was an well-intended safety reminder, or maybe it was something more sinister (we are all well aware of Republican voter suppression efforts elsewhere). In any case, Russ’ campaign has shot itself in the foot on this one. Very amateurish.

  13. Pork Roll, no “maybe” about it!

    Those same supposedly “outraged” voters have requested a substation in the Third Ward. Carlos Bernard AND Mike Venezia made issues of it this summer, one by camping out over a weekend and the other, the one who called this ridiculous press conference, rode along with the Police. They can’t have it both ways. Either there is more crime in that area which (a) requires added police presence and therefore (b) the Line B mailer should be welcomed, or there IS no problem in that area. Which is it?

    And how dare Mr. Venezia decide what “confuses” people, especially those in the Third Ward. Just what is HIS issue with them?

  14. Okay, I was too cynical. Line B seems to be acknowledging that they sent it out. Not sure how it can been seen as anything but an attempt to keep people away from the polls.

  15. Hey oRKY

    please explain to us why VENEZIA is announcing he’s for putting surveillance cameras and lights controlled remotely IN THE THIRD WARD? WHY he has suggested putting a police sub-station IN THE THIRD WARD. Why residents have come to Town Council meetings begging for mopre and better policing IN THE THIRD WARD. Why residents have said that they call and call the police but the police don’t come IN THE THIRD WARD

    Wasn’t there a child severely injured during daylight hours in Watsessing Park- IN THE THIRD WARD.

    Have you read Baristanet’s police blotter lately? Where do you think a pol;ice presence is needed- Do you really think that crime doewn’t happen on election day?

  16. Pete, Seriously?

    Where do you see anything encouraging people to stay away from the polls? How ridiculous is that? How the HELL would Russ Mollica and his team know who people in the third ward would vote for?

    OMG…Bloomfield is doomed.

  17. A letter directly to the Venezia Campaign

    It’s MIDNIGHT – have we seen Venezia’s ELEC reports – the ones that kathy deMarino knows nothing about- the ones that were promised to Tim Dolan but mysteriously didn’t appear.

    HEY VENEZIA- Post them (yes there are more than one that are missing) on YOUR website for all to see. Oh right – it’s easier to pretend that the ELEC just hasn’t posted them (that’s what your slate is trying to sell).

    Show us what VENDORS, CONSULTANTS, and DEVELOPERS have contributed to your warchest in the last month and how many $$$$.

  18. November 5, 2013

    Dear Bloomfield:

    Thank you to all of the friends and family who have taken their precious time to help with our campaign.

    As I stated in April 2013 “We cannot be bought.”

    “My opponents have over $200,000 (Mike where are those elect reports? I am guessing at least another $100,000 on Mike’s elects) $300,000 and they have hired everyone they can.

    Alternatively, our campaign has been run with volunteers who love Bloomfield that are tired of the:

    – 12 years where taxes have gone up 134% and water bill has gone up
    134%,

    – Property values have dropped 10.2% since 2010.

    – Bloomfield is the 417th best place to live out 514 in NJ a drop of 66 spots
    since my opponent took office.

    – Armed robbers are from January to September 2013 compared to 2012
    are up 94%.

    – My opponent voted on Development that would over crowd our school. I
    was not on the council! Only the Council can give that approval.
    (Please note I never vote for the Liongate development which took place
    in 2006. My opponents need something to deflect the serious short
    comings of His Self-Serving Political Machine of the last 12 years).

    – My opponent stated that the Glen Ridge Country club as an interested
    buyer for Liongate and they would be in the October 28th council
    meeting. When I spoke with the management of the Glen Ridge Country
    club I was advised their Board of Director never authorized anyone to
    speak in front of the Bloomfield Town Council.

    – Vendors rule Town hall (you think that the $300,000 donated to Venezia
    is for the citizens of Bloomfield). Mike Venezia showed his true colors
    when he took campaign contributions from the Hartze Mountain
    Developer and then voted 4 time to give the developer a 321 2-bedroom
    multi-million dollar apartment that would add 100+ children to our
    already overcrowded schools.

    This is the Bloomfield we are face with today. We need a change!

    Bloomfield needs a team in Town Hall that is the voice for all the citizens, children, business and houses of worship.

    The Bring Bloomfield Together team is that voice!

    We ask for your vote today. Please vote Line B for Bloomfield:

    Russ Mollica, Maribel Perez, Zach Smith, Peter Santana
    Mayor, Council-At-Large

    Thank you and God Bless.
    The Bring Bloomfield Together Team.

  19. Back in the old days, political leaders would make sure that voters got a ride to the polls. Not just tell them to “be safe out there”.

    More evidence of the decline in political life.

  20. Karen, the flyer doesn’t say “stay away from the polls”, it says all sorts of very scary things in order to keep people from the polls, and the clincher is that it was sent only to selected areas. It’s straight out of the Karl Rove playbook. I was hoping to see Mollica address this issue directly today, as I was prepared to vote for him. All of the things you say about Venezia are true, and Bloomfield needs to be rid of the taint that is the county dem machine, but how can I vote for Mollica or if he’s pulling this crap?

    Why can’t Bloomfield ever get a decent candidate for mayor? It’s always the politically corrupt vs the gang who couldn’t shoot straight.

  21. I received the flyer and folded with in it is a letter from Mayor McCarty titles “Why Democrats are all voting for Line B!” then “Why Mike Venezia cannot be mayor?”

  22. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, any idiot who stays home in lieu of voting as a result of this flyer deserves to not have his/her vote counted.

    “More evidence of the decline in political life.” Paolo, I think this is right. Whether local, state or federal its a mistake to rely on these clowns for anything, I think most people get that.

  23. Pete it addresses the issue that taking rides with strangers to get to the polls is dangerous. Many of the elderly from Bloomfield will be going to the polls today and many will get a ride with a stranger- it’s good to remind people that not everyone is on the up-and-up.

    And stayhyphy – the elderly are not idiots they are just more trusting a lot of the time

    and paolo- only the democratic machine with it’s hundreds of thousands of $$$ from vendors, consultants and developers that have contracts and agreements with Bloomfield have that kind of money- I’ve taken 12 people to the polls today- you can too.

  24. Again, The Strumolo Dems can’t have it both ways. They can’t make a big thing about camping out in the 3rd ward over a weekend night (Carlos Bernard) or riding with the police (Mike Venezia) and THEN make something of Line B’s mailer asking only that everyone stay safe.

  25. POSTED BY pat gilleran | November 05, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

    Pete it addresses the issue that taking rides with strangers to get to the polls is dangerous. Many of the elderly from Bloomfield will be going to the polls today and many will get a ride with a stranger- it’s good to remind people that not everyone is on the up-and-up.

    —————-

    True, but in the old days the local ward boss, block leader etc would be the person arranging the ride. And the Thanksgiving turkey, or extra delivery of coal, etc.

    The person doing the driving would likely be a neighbor, or a soldier in the political machine. Definitely not a stranger. You want to get your voters into the polls and not the other guy’s voters.

    Doctors do this all the time. My mother in law’s doc had a new Lincoln used for picking up old folks and bringing them in for their shots, exam, etc. Bloomfield voters deserve no less, but they’ll probably get a lot less….

  26. And stayhyphy – the elderly are not idiots they are just more trusting a lot of the time

    Comical, way to make a statement and nullify your very statement with what you consider an explanation.

    I love expressions like this. Not fat, just big boned. Not stupid just not a good test taker.

    No excuses, lets raise the bar, not lower it.

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