New Jersey Democrats have filed a complaint alleging that Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli prematurely jump-started his general election fundraising before he’s won the primary, but Ciattarelli’s campaign says that it’s a bunkum claim.
Democrats say that Ciattarelli advertised a general election fundraiser three weeks ago, even though gubernatorial candidates seeking matching funds under the state’s public financing law – Ciattarelli and Murphy both are – are not permitted to solicit contributions until after the primary.
Bergen County Republicans posted the fundraiser, scheduled for June 23, on their Facebook page on May 27.
Saily Avelenda, the Democratic State Committee executive director, filed the complaint with the Election Law Enforcement Commission on Thursday.
“It cannot be disputed that the invitation and the link to the fundraising website are ‘solicitations’ for funds under New Jersey law,” she said, calling the effort an “impermissible” campaign activity.
“Each time that a donor contributed for this event on the WinRed (Republican fundraising) platform, the Ciattarelli for Governor campaign was charged a fee,” Avelenda claimed. “These fees are ‘expenditures’ as a matter of law.”
Democrats want ELEC to stall approvals for matching funds to the Republican candidate, saying it would “disadvantage other candidates who complied with the law.”
“Jack Ciattarelli has been caught red-handed improperly trying to raise money for his campaign in violation of laws that protect the taxpayer-funded gubernatorial matching funds program,” Avelenda said.
But the Ciattarelli campaign denied the contention.
“Ciattarelli for Governor received its first contributions for this event on June 16, well after the primary and thus incurred no costs pre-primary,” said Stami Williams, a spokesperson for Ciattarelli.
The Republican response is that the Murphy campaign is trying to create a false premise by filing the complaint.
“Phil Murphy and his team are terrified and will say anything to avoid talking about the thousands of seniors he sentenced to death in New Jersey nursing homes and his failed tax-and-spend policies,” Williams said. “And by the way, at least Ciattarelli for Governor uses a bank in New Jersey and a not a New York bank.”
Ciattarelli announced this week that he had already raised enough to qualify for matching funds.