DiVincenzo's day in court will come after his election: The Auditor

By The Auditor/The Star-Ledger
on May 18, 2014

Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. Essex County Executive lays out the accomplishments in 2014 State of the County speech at Essex County Hospital Center in Cedar Grove , NJ 2/24/14.

 

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, charged last year with illegal use of election funds, apparently won’t have to face a hearing on it until sometime after his next election.

The Office of Administrative Law says the matter, filed in October 2013, is not scheduled to be heard until January. No reason for the delay was given, although state officials said a judge’s schedule typically sets the agenda.

DiVincenzo, who is seeking re-election this year, was charged by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission of misusing more than $16,000 in campaign funds and failing to disclose nearly $72,000 in campaign spending over a two-year period. The complaint alleged DiVincenzo, one of New Jersey’s most powerful Democrats, illegally used campaign funds for more than $9,000 for airfare, hotel stays and food for two trips to Puerto Rico, which had been described as political retreats. Other charges included tickets to the U.S. Open tennis tournament; $676.94 for a tuxedo; a gym membership, and more than $100 in parking tickets.

The three-term county executive, who has not faced a serious election challenge since he first won the office in 2002, has raised $1.5 million for the June primary and has already spent more than $834,000 of that. According to his most recent campaign filing, $3,665 of it was spent at more than a dozen restaurants from January to April of this year for "campaign meetings." And $40,000 went to his lawyers.

DiVincenzo spokesman Anthony Puglisi told The Auditor "the ELEC matter is winding its way through the process" and his campaign committee continues to follow ELEC’s rules on campaign spending.

"Campaign funds may be used for ordinary and necessary expenses of holding public office and candidate activities, including meetings and related expenses," he said. "As for lawyer fees, ELEC has said that campaign funds can be used to represent campaigns and candidates in matters before the commission ... And for the record, no public dollars are used for any of these purposes."

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