PARSIPPANY — During an April 1st meeting with Morris County Republican Chairman John Sette, Freeholders John Krickus, Dave Scapicchio, and Denville Councilwoman Deborah Smith, longtime Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor James Barberio’s GOP political consultant Alan Zakin shared with the group that he was working with an organization spearheaded by Fairview Insurance Executive Ryan Graham that was going to spend money in the Parsippany Republican Primary to aid incumbent Councilman Mike dePierro and his team to help defeat incumbent Council President Paul Carifi, Jr. and his running mates, said Freeholders Krickus and Scapicchio today, along with Councilwoman Smith. (To see related article, click here)
Graham and a relative who works at Fairview Insurance, have contributed $5,100 to Freeholder John Cesaro in the past, and recently promoted a fundraiser for Cesaro and his Freeholder running mates. Graham has also given $3,000 to Cesaro’s running mate, Angelo Tedesco. Given those close connections, Krickus and Scapicchio suggested that they might be the next targets of the Democrat PAC, NJ’s Future First during their upcoming Republican Primary for Freeholder against Cesaro and Tedesco.
“We are deeply concerned about deep-pocketed Democrats from Washington, DC and Essex County meddling in Morris County Republican Primary elections,” said Freeholders Krickus. “It started in Parsippany, but the County Freeholder race may very well be next. We’re speaking out because allowing this to go unchallenged would set a terrible precedent.”
Krickus, Scapicchio and Smith urged Chairman Sette to echo his own sentiments expressed at their meeting and in a recent email where the Chairman said he was “shocked and against” the Super PAC’s attempt to influence an intraparty contest in Morris County.
“During the meeting Chairman Sette was as shocked as we were that Alan Zakin was working for an outside group taking sides in a local Republican primary,” stated Freeholder John Krickus.
“Every Republican in the county should be concerned that Democrats are interfering in our elections. Moreover, every taxpayer in the county should be alarmed that out-of-county special interest groups who refuse to disclose their donors are trying to buy local elections,” said Smith.
“Frankly, the whole things stinks to high heaven,” added Freeholder Scapicchio.
Krickus and Scapicchio said multiple news reports about the emergence of a mysterious Democrat Super PAC based in Washington, DC and directed by an Essex County Democratic Committeeman just two weeks after Zakin’s comments was troubling. But it wasn’t until after the pair saw the first Super PAC mailer and a PolitickerNJ.com article linking the outside group to people with taxpayer-funded contracts in Parsippany, that they were convinced there was a connection.
Ryan Graham, who has been the subject of pay-to-play allegations in other New Jersey municipalities, is the insurance broker in Parsippany-Troy Hills. Council President Carifi has sought to oust Graham and his firm from that spot for what Carifi alleged was political favoritism and excessive costs to taxpayers. According to Federal Election Commission reports, Graham is a big-time donor to national Democrats, which would put him in contact with the high-powered Democrat fundraiser serving as Treasurer of the controversial Super PAC operating in Parsippany according to Internal Revenue Service records made public last week.
Parsippany’s Pay-to-Play Ordinance
Parsippany’s pay-to-play ordinance, 2010:02 was one of the first ordinances Mayor Barberio and then Parsippany Councilman, John Cesaro, had directed Township Attorney John Inglesino to re-write. The original ordinance, created a year earlier, prohibited professionals who contracted with the township from donating to Morris County Political parties. The amended ordinance, removed that prohibition. “At the time I did the analysis back in 2010, I concluded that the Morris County Republican Committee is not a “continuing political committee,” Inglesino told Parsippany Focus. “That conclusion is consistent with the 2009 ordinance because the 2009 ordinance limited contributions to ‘contributing political committees’ AND the Morris County Committees. The 2009 ordinance made clear that Morris County Committees stood alone and was not a term to be included within the definition of “contributing political committee”. The express purpose for removing the Morris County Committees from the ordinance was so that Township vendors who made contributions to the Morris County Republican and/or Democratic County Committees would not be in violation of Parsippany’s pay to play ordinance. Therefore, the Parsippany pay to play ordinance does not apply to Parsippany vendors who make contributions to the Morris County Republican and/Democratic Committees.”
To read Parsippany’s pay-to-play ordinance, Click here.
Editors Correction: In a previous version, the first paragraph included the word “and” after Mayor James Barberio’s name, which appeared that he was at the meeting. Mr. Barberio was not at the meeting, just longtime Parsippany-Troy Hills Mayor James Barberio’s GOP political consultant Alan Zakin.
Parsippany Focus is also adding another quote from Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Attorney. Before the story was published, there were rumors circulating that Parsippany’s Pay-to-Play ordinance was allegedly violated, and Parsippany Focus requested information from Mr. Inglesino, and in his response he stated “Please be advised that I, as Township Attorney for the Township of Parsippany – Troy Hills (the “Township”), review all allegations of violations of the Township’s pay to play law, and that I have reviewed the alleged violations referenced in your email to the Township’s Business Administrator, Ellen Sandman, on even date herewith. If I were to find a violation of Parsippany’s pay to play law by a Township professional, then that professional’s contract with the Township would be terminated in accordance with the subject ordinance. With respect to the allegations involving Mr. Trimboli and Mr. Graham, please be advised that the original ordinance was subsequently amended several years ago to remove prohibitions regarding contributions to County Committees (both Republican and Democrat) and Political Action Committees. Thus, any contributions made to the Morris County Republican Committee are NOT covered by the subject ordinance.”
We did not publish this in our story, because after investigation we determined, as did Mr. Inglesino, that there was no violation in the Parsippany ordinance, and felt this quote (information) did not apply to this story, but Mr. Inglesino requested that we publish this quote, as promised.