UCCF 9/23/21: Contractor Donation Guidelines

We will get to Bruce Paterson on resolutions and the emotional brouhaha at the Union County Improvement Authority in due course but first, me. At the 9/2/21 commissioner meeting I asked about prohibited campaign contributions. Not getting an answer, I did some research, and here is what I found being read into the record:

Text of comments:

Since the County Manager did not answer my question at the last meeting regarding campaign contributions from county contractors that would be prohibited I looked into it myself.

On the NJELEC website there is an unofficial text of regulations updated through January, 2021 which includes subchapter 25 on prohibited contractor contributions.

Per 19:25-25.2(c) “a business entity that has entered into a contract having an anticipated value in excess of $17,500 with a municipality, or any agency or instrumentality therefor, except a contract that is awarded pursuant to a fair and open process, shall not during the term of that contract make a contribution, reportable by the recipient, to any municipal committee of a political party in that municipality if a member of that political party is serving in an elective public office of that municipality when the contract is awarded or to any candidate committee or joint candidates committee of any person serving in an elective public office of that municipality when the contract is awarded.”

Contribution is defined as anything over $300 which means that anything up to $300 from a contractor would be fine.

There are attribution rules which say that contributions made by that person’s spouse or child, residing therewith, shall be deemed to be a contribution by the business entity. This would mean that any other relatives or children not residing with the donor could freely give.

A business entity includes any person or a company where anyone owning over 10% interest in the company is considered being in the prohibited group. This means that owners of 10% or less in the business with the contract can give. This happened in Union County for years where 20 lawyers, on average, at the DeCotiis firm donated equal amounts that would total $30,000 annually. Though, based on the Birdsall and Schwartz Edelstein situations, care should be taken that employee donations are not reimbursed by the company.

In Kenilworth since 2015 Suplee Clooney & Co., accountants for the borough, has had four of their accountants donate $300 each to Kenilworth politicians annually, totaling $6,900 through 2020. Also, Anthony Gallerano, Vice President of Harbor Consultants, has donated $10,000 in total to Kenilworth politicians since 2016 and while Harbor Consultants were borough engineers billing over $1 million. I should know if these were prohibited contributions in a couple of months.

To get around the prohibition a contract can be awarded under a fair and open process with

  1. Public advertisement;
  2. Public process; and
  3. Public announcement of the winning bidder.

Though going through this process risks outsiders winning the contracts so care should be taken, possibly by tailoring the qualifications eligible for the contract narrowly to advantage favored bidders/donors.

You could also try to award the contract through another government entity, like an Improvement Authority, but that risks lawsuits form disgruntled bidders. However, more lawsuits mean more lawyer contracts and possibly more campaign contributions if you follow a few simple guidelines.

I hope that helps.


2 responses to this post.

  1. […] Invoice template as executed by January 23, 2020 by Anthony Gallerano of Harbor Consultants who donated $10,000 to Kenilworth political campaigns over the last five years. […]


  2. […] No Political Contribution Disclosure Form though Suplee Clooney employees have donated $6,900 in total to Kenilworth political campaigns over the last six years. […]


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