Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Just in time, the scene has changed

Yesterday, we took a snapshot of the current field of candidates running for elected office in Trenton's May Municipal Elections and who had run previously. We gave a quick review of their filings with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to spot any areas of concern. 

Taking off from there, Kevin Moriarty yesterday looked a little more closely at some of the reporting errors he saw in forms filed by mayoral candidate Paul Perez.

Today, the picture has changed ever so slightly. It appears as though the rumblings are true and Councilman At Large Duncan Harrison, Jr. will be announcing his run for mayor this weekend.

The news of this announcement sent us right back to the NJ ELEC website to see what, if any, new filings had shown up since we last checked. Indeed, we found that Mr. Harrison had opened up a reporting channel for his new campaign for mayor this year by filing his D-1 designating his campaign treasurer and a depository for his funds.

OOPS!  It looks as though Harrison is using the same depository (bank account) for his newly formed mayoral campaign committee as he used for his Council At Large campaign.  Now, we may be getting down to splitting hairs here, but we don't think that is allowable. It certainly isn't desirable.

The NJ ELEC Compliance Manual for Candidates and Committees states on page 9:
 C. Candidates for Two Different Offices
An individual who is a candidate for two or more offices in an election is required to establish separate candidate committees, or separate joint candidates committees, or both, for each office sought, and establish separate campaign depositories. {our emphasis}

Now, we realize that there must be quite a bit of activity going on in the Harrison camp as they switch gears from running for council to running for mayor. An entirely new set of paperwork must be filed, a new set of signed petitions collected and all with just a couple of weeks to go before the filing deadline. It is possible that the use of the same account number for the new depository was a mistake. Or maybe Mr. Harrison and his Treasurer were't aware of the separate depository rule.

As we noted yesterday, Mr. Harrison has not technically closed out his 2014 Council At Large election reports but he did appear to accurately report the left over funds as the starting balance of his 2018 council run. He will now need to properly close the reporting on both the 2014 and 2018 accounts as he begins the reporting on his 2018 mayoral run. Until he does that, it is our contention that he has two open committees for different offices (even though state law precludes him from actually running for election to both offices) and thus needs to have separate bank accounts.

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