Newark mayoral candidates snipe over campaign fundraising reports

By Mark Bonamo | January 30th, 2014


NEWARK - Three of four Newark mayoral candidates argued over the most recent results of New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) campaign funding reports, each asserting that their candidate has the truest local base.

The campaign of South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka pointed to the mid-January ELEC reports to make the case that former Assistant Attorney General and mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries does not have grass-roots support in Newark.

"The January ELEC reports show that only four contributors comprised an astounding 80 percent of the $137,239 raised by mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries over the past three months and that more than 60 percent that money (82,000) came from the financial services industry," said Baraka campaign communications director Frank Baraff in a prepared statement on Wednesday.

Baraff listed the four contributors as Mark Lerner, a hedge fund operator, of Baltimore, and his wife, for $26,000; Christy Mack, the wife of former Morgan Stanley chairman John Mack, of Rye, New York, for $26,000; Ray Chambers, a New Jersey businessman and philanthropist and his wife Patricia, for $30,000; and Ted Wells, a New Jersey criminal lawyer, and his wife Nina, a former New Jersey Secretary of State, for $26,000.

Baraff also asserts that only five percent of Jeffries' campaign funds came from small contributors of under $300, and that 43 percent of Jeffries' campaign funds came from outside of New Jersey.

The Baraka campaign also claims that 38 percent of their candidate's contributions are in amounts of under $300, with 99 percent of the contributions coming from within New Jersey.

"To understand where political power and influence come from, you must follow the money trail," Baraff said. "Contradicting his campaign rhetoric, Shavar Jeffries represents Wall Street and a tiny group of multi-millionaires. He is the candidate of wealthy outsiders. He does not represent Newark."

Jeffries bluntly responded to the Baraka campaign's claims that he is the candidate of wealthy elites, pointing to his life story.

"No one represents Newark better than me. My whole life reflects that. It's a blessing when you have a world-famous father," said Jeffries, referring to Amiri Baraka, the renowned poet and father of Ras Baraka, who died earlier this month. "Not only did the world not know my father, I did not know my father. I was the child of a teenage mother who was killed in a domestic violence situation. Councilman Baraka, who has been on the public dole his whole professional life, grew up in a middle-class environment. I was born into a low-income family, in a community beset by crack and teenage pregnancy. I'm going to represent the people who gave me everything I had. Almost every opportunity I had has come from the people of this city, and I will represent the people of Newark way better than [Baraka] ever will."

"I'm honored to have the support of someone like Ray Chambers, who has been a legendary supporter of Newark," Jeffries added. "The Prudential Center and NJPAC would not be in Newark without his leadership. But I'm just as honored to have the support of thousands of Newarkers who can give us five dollars or whatever they have."

According to this month's ELEC reports, Baraka raised $98,485 during the last filing period.

At the end of December, the Baraka campaign had $131,175 cash on hand, while the Jeffries campaign had $136,348 cash on hand, according to ELEC reports. has previously reported that the campaign of North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. had raised close to $500,000, while the Jeffries campaign had raised close to $600,000.

The Ramos campaign raised $52,500 during the last filing period, according to this month's ELEC reports. According to the campaign, $16,800 came from donations less than $300, and $35,700 came from donations greater than $300. The Ramos campaign also stated that 95 percent of the donations in the last fundraising quarter were from New Jersey, 60 percent from Newark and five percent were from out of state.

At the end of December, the Ramos campaign had $133, 815 cash on hand, according to ELEC reports.

"Hundreds of people from across Newark and New Jersey are supporting Anibal's candidacy because they believe in his record of crime reduction, improving schools and creating jobs," said Ramos campaign spokesman Bruno Tedeschi. "They are giving him financial support because they want a new direction for Newark and know he is the person
best suited to being that change agent."

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