Thursday, December 20, 2012

Meanwhile, in America's formerly favorite hometown...

{NOTE: we made a correction to the statement regarding the percentage of the Hamilton GOP committee treasury that was transferred to the ex-Mayor's campaign fund. We regret the typo that indicated a math error.}

In what could only be described as an attempt at karmic rehabilitation, Hamilton Township ex-Mayor John Bencivengo planned to run out his campaign treasury by sending checks totaling some $60,000 to various area charities.

Then came the reports that some of the chosen non-profits are politely turning down the contributions.

But that isn't the interesting part.

On the night of April 19, the Times of Trenton posted a story about Bencivengo being the target of a federal investigation into political corruption.

On that same day, according to his own campaign report (see page 2), Bencivengo received a transfer of $11,000 from the Hamilton Township Republican Committee. That $11,000 represented about 40% of the club's treasury.

On the corresponding report from the Hamilton party (page 8), the transfer was dated as occurring April 20...the day after.

Did Bencivengo incorrectly think he could use campaign funds for his legal defense? Remember, his defense attorney was Jerome Balloratto, who reportedly charges $500 per hour.

The NJ Supreme court decided that issue in the case of former state senator Wayne Bryant. Campaign funds cannot be used for the purpose of providing a defense in a criminal case.

"Contributors do not expect that their candidate’s election will be a stepping stone to a criminal indictment", wrote Justice Barry Albin in the March 2010 decision.

Why would Bencivengo practically plunder the township club's coffers just as he was heading into a federal corruption case?

Once he moved the money in, it would be "awkward" to move the money back.

Dispersing it to local charities was a nice gesture.

But it does smell a bit.

1 comment:

Robert Elliott Chilson said...

Interesting, great work.