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Head of tax incentives firm was a teen council candidate in Montclair

Jay C. Biggins began NJ political career as McGovern, Gaby volunteer in 1972

By David Wildstein, March 30 2019 3:12 pm

Jay C. Biggins, the executive managing director of Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company. According to their website, the Biggins firm negotiates state, local and utility incentives, handles compliance and audit issues, and works on tax credit sales and assignments.

Jay C. Biggins, head of a consulting firm that helps corporations negotiate tax incentives, started out as a teenage political prodigy in Montclair.

A whistleblower told the New Jersey Tax Incentive Task Force on Thursday that a consulting firm – identified by the New Jersey Globe as Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company – knew that client Jackson Hewitt had no plans to leave New Jersey when they sought tax credits to retain jobs in New Jersey.

Biggins has not been implicated into the scheme, although one of his employees, Timothy R. Comerford, told the New Jersey Globe that he was the consultant who prepared Jackson Hewitt’s tax credit application.

As a high school student, Biggins was president of the Montclair Youth Council.

In 1972, at age 19, Biggins took out petitions to run for the Montclair Town Council but ultimately opted not to run.  He had been lobbying his hometown governing body to crack down on consumer fraud.

A supporter of  George McGovern’s presidential campaign, he also chaired a group of young Democratic leaders who monitored he way county Democratic organizations choose delegates to the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

That year, Biggins became the state youth coordinator for Dan Gaby in his bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1972.  Democrats had been searching for a candidate to challenge the popular GOP incumbent, Clifford Case and Gaby was the first to enter the race.  But the 38-year-old advertising executive was a McGovern supporter at a time most of New Jersey’s Democratic establishment was for Hubert Humphrey.  The Democratic primary was won by former Rep. Paul Krebs (D-Livingston), an old-time labor leader who beat Gaby 43%-28%.

Biggin’s flurry of political involvement simmered with McGovern’s loss, and he eventually went to law school.  In the 1980s, he got a job working for New York City mayor Ed Koch as the executive director for finance and economic development.  After that, he worked as CFO for a New York City real estate developer.

In 2013, Biggins contributed $3,800 to Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election campaign.  That came about eighteen months before Jackson Hewitt got their tax incentive approved.

Insignificant: Biggins contributed $50 to the 1981 gubernatorial campaign of John Degnan. State Comptroller Philip Degnan, the former candidate’s son, issued the report on the New Jersey Economic Development Authority that has suddenly propelled Biggins into the news for the first time since the McGovern days.

Biggins did not immediately return a 2:23 PM call on March 28 seeking comment.

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