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Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello III. (Photo: Joe Signorello).

Menendez primary opponent calls out Murphy for supporting Election Transparency Act

Signorello says governor shows up for social issues but falls flat on good government

By David Wildstein, April 04 2023 3:16 pm

A progressive small-town mayor challenging Bob Menendez in the 2024 Democratic U.S. Senate primary today slammed Gov. Phil Murphy for signing an Election Transparency Act that takes an independent watchdog agency and makes them accountable to the governor.

Saying that “everybody has a right to be mad about this,” Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello took to social media to put the blame on Murphy.

“When you talk about things like New Jersey being the model for the country versus states like Florida, it rings hollow because you talk a big game and you show up for social issues,” Signorello said.  “But when it comes to actual good government, things like this fall flat.”

Signorello said there are parts of the new law that he agrees with, like paying Election Law Enforcement Commissioners – “good – give them the money, they deserve it” –and “bringing some of the dark money to the light.”

But the 35-year-old two-term mayor and Democratic municipal chairman doesn’t agree with shortening the statute of limitations on campaign finance violations from ten years to two.

To Signorello, that is the same as giving free passes to people who “potentially did nefarious things.”

“Terrible, terrible, terrible government,” he said.  “Terrible, terrible, terrible politics.”

Signorello has slapped Murphy before, writing an Op-Ed in 2020 criticizing the governor’s “one-size-fits-all” plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve given Governor Murphy a lot of crap,” Signorello stated.  “I think he does some really good stuff, but broadly, it’s just things like this where I look at our elected officials in the state of New Jersey, and I just don’t know where their heads are at sometimes.”

Still, one month after taking office in 2019, Signorello successfully pushed for the repeal of a six-year-old ordinance that capped local campaign contributions at $200.  The move put Roselle Park in line with state limits of $2,600 to individual candidates and $7,200 to the local party organization Signorello now heads.

The statement of the progressive U.S. Senate candidate parallels comments made by a conservative lawmaker, Senate Minority Whip Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton), on the bill.

“The bill that Governor Murphy signed into law today takes a system that everyone trusts that have been in place for years and turns it on its head,” said Bucco, who is expected to become the new minority leader next year.  “Now that the governor has full control over ELEC and can stack the deck, the agency’s reputation as a fair and independent campaign watchdog is in serious jeopardy.  People will suspect that every action taken by ELEC is politically motivated.”

Last month, Signorello launched a bid to challenge Menendez in the Democratic primary.

Earlier today, Signorello went to Menendez’s Jersey City office to commemorate “Trump indictment day.”

“I’m excited to see the rule of law upheld, but I think it’s really important for us all to remember in our own backyard,” he said.

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