Click play for audio version of this story
The State Democratic LGBTQ caucus called on Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Migdalia Pagan-Milano and the rest of the mayor’s council candidates to denounce a blog post attacking Councilman Mike DeFusco, calling the post an attack on the councilman’s sexuality.
“The use of homophobic and disturbing language against anyone, including an openly gay councilman, cannot be dismissed or tolerated in any of our neighborhoods,” said Lauren Albrecht, Chair of the New Jersey State Democratic LGBTQ Caucus. “Comments like this are purposely intended to make negative and passive inferences to the LGBTQ community and only aim to set us back in the progress we have made to achieve true equality.”
The blog post appeared on blog run by Nancy Pincus, who was paid $1,200 by Bhalla’s 2017 mayoral campaign for printing campaign literature and designing palm cards.
Pincus’ blog is not monetized, and she said she was not paid for the post, which she claimed was satire.
“This fact-challenged, slanted article reads like a DeFusco campaign press release. My blog posts never ‘target gays — utterly libelous. The blog post satirized selfies the councilman posted on his OFFICIAL, not personal, social media accounts, like a shirtless Vladimir Putin or a Christie on the beach,” Pincus said. “No aspersions were made to his sexuality. None. Had Mayor Zimmer posted bikini shots on her OFFICIAL social media account she would have been held up to ridicule by me.”
Bhalla did not immediately respond to a 2:02 p.m. call and voice mail message seeking comment.
The blog took aim at DeFusco, who is gay, over a series of social media posts the councilman made about his exercise routine.
“What next? Chin-ups on the men’s room stall? Arm-pit sniffing? Oh, we are enthralled,” the blog post read. “Clearly, the First Ward incumbent has disposable time for a Facebook lifestyle diary, while his opponent Migdalia Pagan-Milano has none.”
Pagan-Milano is one of five council candidates Bhalla is backing this year. She is also gay.
“Mayor Bhalla is irrelevant to this story. Any association that Bhalla ‘owns’ what I write is a DeFusco campaign talking point. Must be a slow news day,” Pincus said. “Thin-skinned, intolerant to all criticism, DeFusco illegally blocks constituents from commenting on his social media, and now he is trying to silence my voice with this #fakenews smear campaign.”
The New Jersey Globe did not suggest Bhalla owned or operated Pincus’s blog.
DeFusco and Bhalla have been at odds since 2017, when Bhalla beat DeFusco for the city’s mayorship.
“It’s an open secret that Nancy Pincus works alongside the Mayor to promote his political agenda on her blog, but using any platform to share remarks that intentionally offend the LGBTQ community is simply unacceptable,” said Councilman Mike DeFusco. “Over the past four years, I’ve been proud to work alongside the administration to advance equality in Hoboken with progressive legislation and open conversations.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 10:03 a.m. It was updated again with comment from Pincus at 12:13 p.m.