No More Nanina’s: Montclair Mayor Says Fundraising Event Changed To Virtual Format

Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, who also serves as vice president of the New Jersey Education Association, was the focus of a Politico piece entitled NJEA bigwig plans in-person fundraiser.

Politico’s Matt Friedman writes…”As the state’s largest public teacher’s union criticizes its close political ally, Gov. Murphy, for downplaying the COVID risk of keeping schools open, one of its top officials plans to headline an in-person fundraiser at the height of the pandemic’s second wave.”

Friedman said Spiller would headline a $1,000 per-head “Holiday Cocktail Reception” for a new 501(c)(4) called “Progress for Action, adding that the event was scheduled to take place at Nanina’s in the Park, in an “an elegantly decorated and heated tent provided for social distancing.”

Friedman questioned Spiller about holding an in-person event during a pandemic, especially given the union’s COVID stance. Friedman says Spiller told him that the tent will not be closed on all sides and would comport with all guidelines.

On Monday, Spiller said the event would not take place in person after all.

“I agreed to support Progress in Action’s efforts to raise funds for the benefit of Montclair both through direct charitable work and advocacy. This includes providing funding for community organizations like Toni’s Kitchen, particularly as far too many families are facing hunger this holiday season. While they had shared that the event was originally planned to take place outdoors in compliance with all COVID-19 safety protocols, I have been informed that given current conditions they will be moving it to a virtual format. I am pleased to support their work during this challenging time for many of our families,” says Spiller.

Friedman also questioned the non-profit behind the event that Spiller is being honored by, stating that, according to state records, it was just formed in early October and that his brother, Richard Spiller, is on the board of directors, suggesting that Spiller might have his eyes on a run for governor in 2025 and that 501(c)(4) are not required to disclose donors.

Progress in Action is also the same name given to Spiller’s 2020 election slate.

Matt Krayton, of Publitics, speaking on behalf of Progress in Action, says the group is looking to allocate all of the proceeds, minus the normal administrative costs associated with fundraising, from this event to either directly contributing funds or providing food items to Toni’s Kitchen.

Krayton says there are no plans to change the suggested contribution levels for this event.

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  1. “Matt Krayton, of Publitics, speaking on behalf of Progress in Action, says the group is looking to allocate all of the proceeds,…

    Looking? What does looking mean? You’re either going to do it or you not going to do it. Struggling with that simple decision? Feed people or don’t feed people. Kinda on the fence with that one. Ya just gotta love NJ.

  2. He’s not fooling anyone. A complete turnaround after the story broke. Why can’t politicians just be honorable? Money money money. That’s why.

  3. Imagine a Nike with a tag line Just Looking!.
    I like it.
    It feels action-oriented.
    It implies careful, yet calibrated change.
    Very Democratic.
    I love our 2-party system.

  4. Toni’s Kitchen accepts donations. One could give them $1,000 and they’d get $1,000. Or one could give this political group $1,000 and Toni’s Kitchen would get something less.

  5. Spiller’s maneuvering here no longer plays. It’s clearly eyes wide open for this town today.

    His previously well-meaning, nice-guy progressive, follow Mayor Jackson’s lead image has been replaced by a naked photo op, Trenton opportunism. And that’s covering up the not really engaged, play it safe, come from behind lack of leadership — not up to snuff in a crisis to get things done.

    People really do see…

  6. “Looking into it” . You are right Frank, and GOOD catch! This was disturbing, yet we saw it coming. I can absolutely see public schools getting an even worse reputation because of politicians like Spiller. Follow the money trail and our Public Schools are just a corrupt as any other political entity. Money changes everything…

  7. What problem?

    Almost 1 out of 2 Americans supports the Trump direction of the country and the pandemic working itself out. I had the recent opportunity to watch on CBS a 28 year old RN try to explain why she was going maskless into a Sioux City bar. Is it hard to get a RN certificate? Anyway, it would make sense that about half the health care workers supposed Trump. I suspect this is a very conservative number. Again, what problem are you speaking of?

    The stock market is at an all-time high. We have dozens of vaccinations coming through the pipeline. OK, the schools here are a mess, but that is the status quo. Again, what problem?

    Lack of socialization? I could easily argue we would be better off (regardless of the pandemic) to reduce socialization. We had socialization and record polarization pre-pandemic. What exactly has it gotten us? Again, what problem?

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