Friday, May 7, 2010

Horse Sense: Councilwoman Mason: 'It's the clerks' fault'

In yet another twist to the week long examination of Councilwoman Mason's ELEC report from her mayoral campaign last spring, the reporter from Hoboken.patch.com, Andrew Tavani - filed an update with a hollow speculative excuse from a Mason spokesman:


"Patch's review of the checks confirmed that all 48 checks in question were in fact issued to individuals, the names and addresses of which can be found in the Itemized List. When asked why the checks were cashed and then cash was disbursed to more than one individual, Mason responded that she didn't exactly know why that had occurred, noting that as the candidate she relied on others to carry out those types of tasks. But a spokesman speculated that it may have been the result of the way campaign workers interpreted the section on "street money" found on page 28 of ELEC's Candidate Compliance Manual (PDF). The spokesman, who did not work on the campaign, said the language of the laws governing street money use and the guideline contained in the manual read slightly differently and a layman may have interpreted it to mean that doing so was kosher. They both pointed to the fact that every individual who received money is accounted for by name and address on the Itemized List."


Just yesterday, MSV questioned the premise issued by a previous Beth Mason spokesperson who stated checks were issued to "families."  An examination of that claim proved untenable, not lasting a day.  Yesterday's story highlighted those problems in detail. 


The anonymous spokesman here is not even taking a firm position on the shaky ground moving fast under foot for street money being handed out in its most blatant illegal form: cash - blaming unnamed "campaign workers" for the greenbacks being doled out to numerous people who are not itemized by name on a check.  NJ ELEC has already issued a statement indicating these are in fact violations, something Councilwoman Mason's spokespeople have yet to acknowledge.  In place of that reality staring the 2nd ward councilwoman in the face, she has spokesmen trotting out daily excuses and by day's end the new story is a heap of rubble replaced with yet a new explanation.


Any examination of the language from page 28 of ELEC's compliance manual puts further in question Councilwoman Mason's inability to accept responsibility where she signs on the dotted line.  Look at this language yourself; it's neither long nor easily misunderstood by any lay person:


J. STREET MONEY
Expenditures made to individuals to aid or promote a candidate or committee in an election or to promote or encourage the participation of voters in an election is commonly referred to as “street money.”  All street money expenditures must be paid by check drawn on the designated depository of the committee making the payment, regardless of the amount paid, and the check must be made payable to the recipient. Payment of street money cannot be made in currency.

Street money must be paid by check to the individual who actually performs the services. In the event that a campaign makes payment to a vendor, group, or association for the purpose of making street money disbursements, the candidate committee, or joint candidates committee retains responsibility for reporting the identity of each individual who receives any street money payment from the vendor, group, or association. The payment to the vendor, group, or association must be made by check.

Every street money expenditure must be reported as follows:
1) the date the expenditure was made; 2) the check number; 3) the name and address of the recipient individual (payee) who is performing
the services (please do not report the social security number of the recipient); and, the name and address of the vendor, group, association or other entity which further distributes street money to other individuals. If a vendor, group, association, or other entity further distributes street money to other individuals, the vendor, group, or association must make all payments by check and the name and address of every individual receiving street money, the date street money was received, and the amount of street money is required to be reported by the reporting entity that provided the street money funds; 284) the purpose of the expenditure, including an itemization of the specific services provided by the recipient individual (payee); and, 5) the amount of the expenditure. 

There's nothing in this short manual that can be possibly mistaken for "Hey cash this check and then go to these places and hand out money to these people."

MSV could ask who in fact was the head recipient of check no. 1147 where five people are listed with five different names and no addresses but it seems just a quibble.  When you have anonymous spokesman trotting out speculation with "it may have been" as a defense you know you have arrived at your final destination: a complete moral collapse. 



This scene from "Apocalypse Now" shows Marlon Brando's character, a deranged Col. Kurtz also pointing the finger at "clerks."

What else are the faceless clerks re: campaign "workers" about to be blamed for next?

Talking Ed Note: Another excuse making the rounds not used to this point heard on the grapevine was the campaign had run out of checks.  Thankfully, that excuse has not found its way into print (or this Horse Sense editorial) from any spokesman.  At least not yet.

Related: Andrew Tavani who reported on this story and provided the valuable information for this editorial in an update yesterday is available at Hoboken.patch.com and can be found at the link here.

Horse Sense editorial and Street Money Mason graphic are exclusive properties of Mile Square View.  All rights reserved.
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