Home>Campaigns>Building Trades leader’s group pushes Democrats to become permanent VBM voters in district where Operating Engineers leader is running

New Jersey Building & Construction Trades Council President Bill Mullen. (Photo: NJBCTC).

Building Trades leader’s group pushes Democrats to become permanent VBM voters in district where Operating Engineers leader is running

Bill Mullen’s non-profit, Prosperity First, appears to be working against GOP Senate candidate Latham Tiver, a IUOE Local 825 leader

By David Wildstein, April 17 2023 7:09 pm

A non-profit group led by the head of the state’s building trades union is mounting a grassroots effort to convert Democrats into forever vote-by-mail voters in the 8th legislative district, where a top official of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, Latham Tiver, is the Republican candidate for State Senate.

Bill Mullen, the president of the New Jersey Building & Construction Trades Council, is also the president of Prosperity First, to filings with the Internal Revenue Service related to the 501(c)4.

The group is mailing computer-generated vote-by-mail ballot applications with the names and addresses of registered Democrats asking to receive VBM ballots in all future elections.  Mullin is listed as the assistor for the applications.

The move signals that Mullen and the building trades organization are spending money to boost the electoral chances of Democrat Heather Cooper, an Evesham councilwoman who faces Tiver in the Senate race.  Hundreds of Democrats in the Burlington County portion of the 8th have returned applications generated by Mullen’s non-profit voter registration records obtained by the New Jersey Globe show.

Of the hundreds of returned applications in the 8th that listed Mullen as their assistor, 100% came from registered Democrats.

“Locking in hundreds of votes by making VBM applications quick and convenient is a smart strategy in an election year when voter turnout is expected to be the lowest of any in our cycle,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.  “They appear to be targeting Democrats who may already have a decent propensity to vote and converting them into even higher propensity voters forever by simplifying their voting process.”

Prosperity First also sent similar mailings to Democrats throughout South Jersey, the New Jersey Globe has learned.   The group’s website offers a tool to fill out a permanent VBM application for seven South Jersey counties.

The other two trustees of the non-profit also have close ties to South Jersey Democrats:  former Cherry Hill Mayor Susan Bass Levin, the CEO of Cooper University Health Systems’ non-profit foundation, and David Krone, a former chief of staff to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  The Prosperity First tax return uses the NJBCTC address in Clark.

Donors to Prosperity First are not required to disclose their donors, so it’s not immediately clear if Mullen is using Local 825 money to fund a program that could hurt Tiver’s campaign.  Mullen has yet to respond to a call to his cell phone and a text message on Monday afternoon.

The 2020 tax return for Prosperity First shows revenues of nearly $2.1 million.  The General Growth Committee, which also had ties to South Jersey Democrats, donated about $750,000 to Prosperity First in 2019 before it became defunct, according to a report issued by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.  ELEC determined that the Michaels Organization, a construction company with ties to South Jersey Democrats, contributed $159,000 to Prosperity First in 2021.   Prosperity  First reported making $150,000 in independent expenditures in 2021.

James Filippello, a retired police lieutenant, told the New Jersey Globe that he received a mailer from Prosperity First last month addressed to his mother, Marie, who died in May 2021 at age 93.

Marie Filippello had served as the Elk Township tax collector; her late husband, Democrat John Filippello, served as a Gloucester County freeholder for nine years in the 1950s and 1960s.  She is no longer listed on the state’s voter rolls.

Tiver, a former Burlington County freeholder, is a third-generation building trades member.

He had entered the race for State Assembly in the 8th district two years ago, but then-Senate President Steve Sweeney used his building trades connections to get Tiver to reconsider.

Now Tiver has a clear shot at the 8th district Senate seat after incumbent Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) decided not to seek re-election to a second term.

The move to increase the ranks of forever VBM voters in South Jersey could also hurt the chances of former Buena Township Council President Matthew Walker if he wins the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 4th district.  Walker is a member of the IUOE Local 825 executive board.

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