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Republicans in the eighth legislative district renewed their call for Democratic Assembly candidates Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale to disavow a dark money group with ties to South Jersey kingmaker George Norcross.
“While racist mailers that drew bipartisan condemnation apparently weren’t enough to have political machine puppets Gina LaPlaca and Mark Natale disavow the shady General Majority Super PAC, maybe a federal criminal investigation will do the trick,” said Angelo Lamberto, the Republicans’ campaign manager. “The fact of the matter is that LaPlaca and Natale are directly benefiting from millions of dollars in campaign cash from companies and political insiders who reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits from an apparent tax scam that is now under federal investigation.”
Several firms with ties to Norcross are at the center of a still-growing controversy surrounding tax incentives meted out by the Economic Development Authority.
Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the FBI and U.S. Attorney William McSwain had launched an investigation into the tax breaks, with a focus on incentives that went to firms in Camden.
General Majority, the Norcross-linked PAC, has sent out mailers attacking Assemblyman Ryan Peters and former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield on guns.
“It’s hard to discern the point of the rambling diatribe from the Stanfield/Peters campaign, but it sounds like they would like us to denounce the ‘millions of dollars in campaign cash’ we are receiving,” said Andrew Sklansky, the Democrats’ campaign manager. “The only problem with this request is that we have not received millions of dollars and in fact plan on beating Jean Stanfield and Ryan Peters with considerably less.”
It’s not clear how much the mailers costed.
The PAC was previously raised as a campaign issue in the eighth after Republicans in the first legislative district alleged the PAC darkened the face of Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan on a mailer there.
McClellan, who is black, is a Republican candidate for Assembly.
“It’s time for LaPlaca and Natale to step up, do the right thing, and publicly denounce this PAC and have the courage to stand on their own two feet. Failure to do so will only reinforce the belief that LaPlaca and Natale are owned lock, stock, and barrel by Camden party bosses and special interests who will completely control them in Trenton. This corruption is precisely why Peters introduced EDA Reform Legislation which calls for oversight of the program and an end to secret lobbying. Corporate lobbyist Gina LaPlaca would never support such legislation.”
Gov. Phil Murphy condemned the LD1 mailer, though the move may have been another swipe in the proxy fight between him and Norcross.
No such condemnation came from the LD8 Democrats.
“While Jean and Ryan oddly remain focused on Cape May County elections, we are talking to 8th District voters every day who are fed up with legislators who are in the pocket of the NRA,” Sklansky said. “This bizarre attack is another way for Peters to promote his hypocritical new EDA program only months after voting to extend the one he is now bashing.”