The Democratic candidate for mayor of Paramus faces a three-count complaint from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement for failing to file campaign finance reports from her 2020 campaign for re-election to the township council.
MariaElena Bellinger did not file her 11-day and 29-day pre-election reports and her 20-day post-election report before the primary, or a sworn statement that she did not intend to raise any money, ELEC alleges in their complaint.
“Our accounts weren’t opened until August of that year. There was no fundraising until August,” Bellinger told the New Jersey Globe. “The pandemic brought about a lot of confusion.”
Records show that Bellinger filed her campaign account on June 11. She was unopposed in the July 2020. She filed general election reports on time and lists her first contribution received on August 26.
She faces a fine of no more than $17,200 for each report, although fines are rarely that high.
This is the second time Bellinger has faced charges of late filing.
Three years ago, Bellinger was reprimanded by ELEC for not filing a report related to her 2017 council campaign and fined her $300.
ELEC also filed a separate but similar complaint against Bellinger’s 2020 running mate, Dominick Minervini. Minervini was unsuccessful in his council bid, losing to Republican Christopher DiPiazza.
A four-term councilwoman, Bellinger is seeking to replace Richard LaBarbiera, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election after 12 years in office. She faces DiPiazza in one of the state’s premier mayoral races.
Bellinger is up to date on filing reports for this year.
The two Paramus candidates were among 101 complaints filed by ELEC this week. Cape May County Commissioners Will Morey and Jeffrey Pierson, Passaic County Commissioner Theodore Best, Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren and Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles were among those served with election law violation notices. So was Paul Inman, a former Irvington councilman who challenged Mayor Tony Vauss last month.