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Mason's $7,000 Campaign Donation to School Board Slate at Center of Debate

Councilwoman Beth Mason donated $7,000 to the Move Forward school board campaign, which is not in accordance with a local ordinance.

A $7,000 donation by Councilwoman Beth Mason to the Move Forward Board of Education ticket is at the heart of a political debate in Hoboken.

Because a local ordinance, which was passed by the Hoboken city council, states that political action committees can't donate more than $500 to local elections, Councilman Ravi Bhalla has maintained that Mason is breaking the law by donating more.

The thought behind the ordinance, Bhalla said, is to "try to limit the influence of money in politics."

The issue was first raised by Bhalla during a recent council meeting.

Mason, in turn, maintains that Hoboken's ordinance is pre-empted by state law, and therefore isn't following it.

In an e-mail blast to constituents, Mason wrote, "In an effort to entrench the Board of Education Majority, the political bosses in City Hall enacted an illegal ordinance to restrict my donations to the Move Forward team."

The Move Forward team is made up of Anthony Oland, Felice Vazquez and Elizabeth Markevitch. On election day, they'll be trying to gain a majority of the school board which is currently in hands of Kids First.

Kids First has traditionally been supported by Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Letters were sent from the city clerk to Move Forward Treasurer Frank Raia as well as Mason's husband Ricky Mason, to notify them that the donation is in violation of the ordinance and that the money should be returned within 30 days.

This is not the first time Bhalla and Mason are at odds about campaign finance law. , in wake of an article in The Star Ledger which alleged that Bhalla had violated the spirit of the state's pay-to-play laws.

In an e-mailed statement to Patch, Mason responded, "Local government does not have a right to legislate political vendettas. I fought City Hall all the way to Supreme Court when they tried to make it very difficult for Hoboken residents to obtain public information and participate in public meetings. I will fight for the rights of Hoboken residents to support whomever they choose."

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage donated $1,000 to Move Forward, which also wouldn't be allowed under Hoboken's ordinance.

Ojo Rojo October 24, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Claire, you need to go back and read that article on the original campaign finance law again. It says nothing about limiting the ability of officials to donate to campaigns. The issue was with Beth Mason creating a PAC funded by her she could funnel money through to circumvent campaign finance laws that restrict how much an individual could contribute a campaign.
puzzledone October 24, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Local government does not have a right to legislate political vendettas. --Beth Mason Isn't that all she does, or are hers personal vendettas?
Hobokeneer October 24, 2012 at 08:58 PM
First, Move Forward's supporters send a truck flashing swastikas in front of City Hall and the Wallace School. Despicable. Second, Move Forward accepts improper campaign contributions in violation of municipal law limits. Illegal. But hey, it's all about the kids. Nothing says "desperate" like the Move Forward ticket.
Hobbs October 24, 2012 at 09:14 PM
The bottomlinehere is that Beth Mason has every intention on trying to buy another election with her vast wealth in Hoboken The members of Mason's Move Forward BOE slate apparently have no problem being bought by Mason. The voters in Hoboken will soon need to decide if the the want a Mason owned BOE representitives in office. Considering the repeated overwhelming rejection of Mrs. Mason by Hoboken voters when she ran for mayor I doubt no matter how much money she spends the answer is NO ! It should be noted that the seven thousand dollars over the contribution limit is based on old ELECT reports and the total amount of money Mason has pumped into the BOE election since is even greater. The total contributions by Beth Mason will not be known until after the election. Do we really want one very rich couple distorting the democratic process in Hoboken again ?
FAP October 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Claire have you read the law? I know it doesn't say what you said it says.
recallbethmason October 24, 2012 at 09:32 PM
interesting, so in essence, beth mason believes she is above the law? there's a shocker. well then lets enforce the ordinance and penalize her accordingly if she did it intentionally as she has now admitted.
pdq October 25, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Mason said "the political bosses in City Hall enacted an illegal ordinance to restrict my donations to the Move Forward team" This is the most ridiculous claim I 've heard. It notonly effects Mason and the candidates she supports- It effects every PAC, every committee and every candidate- equally. It effects all slates running and all pacs who donate. The campaigns know the laws and ordinances. The Move Forward slate chose to break the law. It's as simple as that. Ms. Mason can try to sugarcoat this anyway she desires. Bottom line: The Move Forward Campaign broke the law.
David Ford October 25, 2012 at 01:10 AM
There's no debate. It's breaking the law and she needs to make it right or pay the price.
CuriousGal October 25, 2012 at 12:03 PM
"there is no place for City Hall politics at the Board of Ed." -Theresa Minutillo 2007 http://tinyurl.com/cnfp66u
Sue Rothman October 25, 2012 at 12:14 PM
One would have to wonder what Move Forwards true motives are and why the Mason / Raia /Russo clan of Anthony Oland, Liz Markevitch and Felicia Vazquez would accept this money. Can you really trust people who would try to pull one over on the public with the education of students. Yes, Beth Mason did contribute the money but move forward accepted.
bubbles October 25, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Mason is a team player. The star of move forward campaign efforts. She gets it. Switch the topic from our slate receiving contributions to her donating and get a few jabs in while she's at it. Wish the rest of you would have half the brains that this lady does. It would make my job a bit easier. Glad no one is questionin the other slates and city council persons about illegal committee contributions. That could get a lil sticky, for us.
I am Spartacus October 25, 2012 at 01:41 PM
And you know darn well that campaign finance ordinance wasn't passed b/c of the board of ed elections. Your boss wheeled a ton of money to her pet city councilman in a special election so he could pass out $40 checks to 500 voters and he couldn't have done that w/o all the money your boss sent his way through her PAC. No money for 500 checks to voters would have meant Tim lost. That is why contributions from PACs was limited, to prevent rich people like Beth Mason from creating a PAC to get around the limits on campaign contributions for individuals. We are fed up w/ people buying election victories in the CC or any other local election. Of course nobody wants to talk about all that check writing Beth paid for b/c it makes Beth look real bad real quick. She wants to pretend she is the victim and pointing out the slimy stuff her money pays for doesn't really help your crew's political agenda.
I am Spartacus October 25, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Actually Move Forward is the one who needs to pay the money back and make it right. But I doubt they will. If they cared about doing what was right, they never would have taken her money.
I am Spartacus October 25, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I am guessing Claire got the story wrong b/c she made the mistake of listening to Beth Mason or someone in the Move Forward campaign. Here is a link to the applicable section of the municipal code: http://www.ecode360.com/15965198#15965201
Jay Rattigan October 25, 2012 at 01:54 PM
The Old Guard will do anything to win this election. Forget about circumventing campaign finance law. They will flat out break the law. Have we heard from the candidates on this issue?
Hobbs October 25, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Mrs. Elizabeth Mason in a previous School Board election had a press release sent out that stated she didn't want to politicise the BOE elections and we latter learned from the ELECT reports that Mr.Richard Mason wrote a check for thousands of dollars for his wife's BOE candidate. It is difficult to accept the phoney moral outrage from Mrs. Mason when you know what she has done,
Ojo Rojo October 25, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I actually operate under the assumption that Mason is up to no good whenever she says or does something until proven otherwise. She has done too much to ever be trusted ever again.
CuriousReplacement October 25, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Wrong, Mr I Am! Our boss paid for 575 workers. Their work was to vote, and they all performed well!. Is it our fault that you didn't hire as many workers? No need to answer, CuriousGal pal. I just hope there's enough money left over after we hire all the non-residents on Craigs List to give us enough money for tuition. Private school moms blogging about public schools we've never been inside of and never will - Dawn's legacy.
Gardiner4Freeholder October 25, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Lyrics to Ricky Bucks - Mason Sucks: Nazi Trucks called in by Joe In a very political town, On the streets with fliers they go, Smearing like a bunch of clowns Push Polls from Mason sure makes phones ring, Making spirits not so bright, What fun it is to lie and get caught in an FBI sting, And file another Mason lawsuit tonight! Oh, Ricky bucks, Mason sucks, Old Guard all the way Oh, what fun it is to deride Break Campaign Finance Law and run away, Oh, Ricky bucks, Mason sucks, Old Guard all the way Oh, what fun it is to deride Break Campaign Finance Law and run away... A day or two ago A Nazi van was taken for a ride And soon Mizz LeMiserable Mason Proceded to spend and her ELECs hide, The MSV horse was lean and not so seen, Legal misfortune seemed his lot, But then he won his SLAPP back, And Mason got pummeled into legal snot. Oh, Ricky bucks, Mason sucks, Old Guard all the way Oh, what fun it is to deride Break Campaign Finance Law and run away, Oh, Ricky bucks, Mason sucks, Old Guard all the way Oh, what fun it is to deride Break Campaign Finance Law and run away, Repeat and then rinse yourself off. Mason and her minions sure campaign dirty.
Hobbs October 25, 2012 at 05:56 PM
If candidates Oland, Markevitch and Vasquez can't or won't have their campaign Treasurer Frank "Pupie" Raia or John Castellano return the excess contributions from the Masons then that is a very clear indication as to their ethics and who they will represent if elected.
Mr.budget October 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Bhalla is a joke !! lets ask him how many kick back, oops I mean contracts he received from Mayor Booker from Newark for his political donations ??
bubbles October 25, 2012 at 07:20 PM
You tell em budget- this aint about our school board campaign taking illegal money.
CuriousReplacement October 25, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Good distraction from the actual story! Don't forget scratch off tickets! Go team! Paying tuition at Stevens Cooperative by bloggin' for dollars and changin' the subject - Dawn's legacy.
MadisonMonroe October 25, 2012 at 09:39 PM
So now we know that Beth Mason is funding a good portion of the Move Forward campaign. Information about Ms. Mason is widely available. Voters can decide whether her $7,000 for Tshirts and brochures is an important issue when they cast their ballots for school board. On the other hand, we don't really know anything about James Kocis. Who's he, you ask? He's given $7,800 to the Kids First campaign this year. He's a resident of 604 Bloomfield and president and founder of the Burgiss Group, a financial services firm servicing the private capital market and located at 111 River St. I believe that anyone should be able to make campaign donations of any size, just as long as they're reported. Let me decide if that's a factor in the way I vote. Congratulations to Kids First for finding deep pockets in these tough economic times. One would think that the Democrats that run KF would have a problem with taking money from a 1%-er like Mr. Kocis, but them's politics. What bothers me is the posturing of someone like Ravi Bhalla, who says he wants to limit the "influence of money in politics." Did he feel that way when he raised tens of thousands of dollars - mostly from non-Hoboken sources - for his campaigns for city council and assembly the past few years? Bravo for Bhalla for raising $2,000 from A. Sabra Evans of Detroit and Balminder Mangat of Louisiana( et al). Whoever they may be. It's just local money he wants to limit. Lucky for him his friends live elsewhere.
Hobbs October 26, 2012 at 01:02 AM
The BIG diff is that ALL the money raised byRavi Bhalla was unquestinably legal. As one of the first memebers of the Sikh community to elected to public office in the United States they are justifiably proud of supporting him. I doubt they expect any quid pro quo for their contributions Does anyone think Raia, Mason, Russo, Castellano and Hoboken's Old Guard Politicos are not looking for something for themselves from the Move Foward candidates if elected for their money and time ?

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