Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mason claim: 48 "cash" checks a "clerical error"

According to a story posted online by the Hudson Reporter, Councilwoman Beth Mason claims via a spokesman dozens of checks listed as "cash" on her ELEC report are merely "clerical errors." Her statement then goes on to attack Councilman Ravi Bhalla on his failure to file a BE form as part of ELEC and appears to reignite her charges of the "most blatant conflict" regarding the earlier Condon contract. That report was posted in its entirety here on MSV earlier this week.

Here is the statement issued on behalf of Beth Mason:

Yesterday, Councilman Ravi Bhalla accused me of committing criminal offenses and “felonies.” These outrageous accusations are totally false and nothing more than vicious lies told by Bhalla to deflect attention from his own illegal actions.

No one was paid in cash. Not one penny.

Every campaign worker was paid through a check issued by the campaign.

Every check was reported on our team’s ELEC reports.
No checks were written made payable to “cash.” (emphasis MSV)

It is true that our ELEC reports mistakenly identified some checks that were paid to campaign workers as being written to “cash.” This was a clerical error made by the person completing the report, and the report will be amended.

Now, let’s take a closer look at Mr. Bhalla.

He admits that he repeatedly broke state law by failing to disclose that his law firm received hundreds of thousands of dollars in public contracts – and that he also failed to disclose thousands of dollars in political contributions he made that were related to those contracts. That’s called “pay-to-play” and Bhalla is a big time player in this corrosive system. Yet he masquerades as a reformer.

For three years in a row, Bhalla failed to comply with this fundamental pay-to-play reform law. When a reporter from the Jersey Journal called him on Friday, Bhalla first said that the law didn’t apply to him. Then he changed his story and said that he was unaware of the law. Bhalla said he never heard of it!

How can anyone believe Bhalla is telling the truth? How could he be unaware of this basic fundamental reform law that is so widely publicized? How can an attorney with so many public contracts who is also an elected official possibly be so incompetent?

This is just the latest in a series of ethical problems and conflict of interest charges that have surfaced in recent weeks. Whenever Ravi Bhalla makes any accusations against anyone, people should, “consider the source.”

Councilman Bhalla via email replied "Enough is enough. More name-calling and a continued back and forth on this topic does not advance any public interest. There are plenty of important issues
confronting Hoboken. I look forward to working with Councilwoman Mason on
the many challenges facing Hoboken in the coming months and years."


Talking Ed Note: Okay, as they say "show me the money" so let's see the dozens of checks and corresponding check numbers with the entries of naming "workers" not made out to cash. There's no additional comment from the Hudson Reporter that any request for transparency has been made or will be forthcoming to demonstrate this "clerical error" on dozens of checks.


Why would the Hudson Reporter rush out a statement without that answer for its readers?


Are we going to see the Mason political operatives online (and their many screen names) to now support this new claim or do we get to see the checks?