Development: Key to contributions in Monmouth?
Published in The Bayshore Courier on June 30, 2005.
Development: Key to contributions in Monmouth?
By JACKIE CORLEY
Developers across the state pour tens of thousands of dollars into campaign coffers each year. Developers with projects in Monmouth County are no different.
Northern Monmouth County is comprised of three districts: the 11th, 12th and 13th legislative districts. The 11th District includes: Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, Rumson and Sea Bright, among other municipalities, in its coverage area. This district is represented by state Sen. Joseph A. Palaia, R-Monmouth; Assemblyman Steven J. Corodemus, R-Monmouth; and Assemblyman Sean Kean, R-Monmouth.
The 12th District is comprised of Colts Neck, Fair Haven, Marlboro, Red Bank and Tinton Falls, among other municipalities, and is represented by state Sen. Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth; Assemblyman Michael Panter, D-Monmouth; and Assemblyman Robert Morgan, D-Monmouth.
The 13th district includes: Old Bridge, Aberdeen, Hazlet, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Matawan, Middletown and Union Beach in its coverage area and is represented by state Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr., R-Monmouth; Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth; and Assemblyman Samuel D. Thompson, R-Monmouth.
Hovnanian Enterprises, which includes a number of subsidiary companies, is one of the largest homebuilding companies in the country. The company, which is currently building its world headquarters in Red Bank, has residential developments and projects currently pending in Jackson, Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown and Long Branch, among other municipalities.
State legislators from Northern Monmouth County accepted at least $20,000 in contributions from Hovnanian Enterprises and its subsidiary companies from 1999 until 2004, according to Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) reports. Of that $20,000, Kyrillos received $11,500 from February 1999 until August 2003.
Also in the 13th District, Thompson accepted $7,000 from Hovnanian Enterprises and its subsidiary companies from September 1999 until October 2004. Azzolina last accepted money from Hovnanian Enterprises and its associated companies in October 1991, in the amount of $500, according to ELEC reports.
In the 11th District, Palaia received $500 from the real-estate developer in September 2003 and Corodemus accepted $1,000 from a Hovnanian Enterprises company in 2004.
No contributions to Kean, Karcher, Panter or Morgan from Hovnanian Enterprises were found.
Additionally, Middlesex-bases developer Jack Morris has made numerous campaign contributions in Northern Monmouth County, all of which went to Kyrillos's election funds.
Morris is the principal of Edgewood Properties, Piscataway, and several subsidiary companies. Edgewood Properties is the developer behind the Broad Street Plaza commercial center in Matawan. Also, Morris's company, the Columbia Group, is Matawan's lead redeveloper for the Aberdeen-Matawan Train Station project. The Columbia Group, along with Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and K.
Hovnanian Shore Acquisition, a Hovnanian Enterprises company, was chosen as part of Matawan's redevelopment team in a resolution adopted December 3, 2002.
From April 1999 until April 2004, Kyrillos accepted $47,200 from Morris and Morris's companies, according to ELEC reports. Of the $47,200, $9,000 came from five contributions made from five different Morris companies in April 1999.
Also, on May 17, 2000, Morris and his companies made seven $1,800 donations, totaling $12,600, according to ELEC reports. Three of the donations came directly from Morris, while four contributions came from separate Morris companies: JSM @ Bridgewater LLC, JSM @ Brookside LLC, JSM @ Timber Glen LLC and JSM @ Woodbridge LLC.
Additionally, Morris's company JSM @ New Durham LLC made a $10,000 contribution to Kyrillos's campaign funds on October 1, 2001 and a $5,600 contribution on October 2, 2001, according to ELEC reports. While the $5,600 contribution from JSM @ New Durham LLC was immediately returned, Kyrillos's campaign accepted another $5,600 from a Morris, JSM @ Monmouth Road, a month later on November 1, 2001. Furthermore, two employees of JSM @ Monmouth Road made $1,866.67 contributions to Kyrillos's campaign and a third made a $1,866.66 contribution, all on November 1, 2001, according to ELEC reports.
Morris's companies also gave a $2,200 contribution on October 17, 2003 and another $2,200 contribution on April 30, 2004.
On February 23, 2005, Kyrillos's campaign returned five $1,800 contributions to Morris and his wife. Whether the five contributions returned came from the April 1999 or the May 17, 2000 transactions is unclear in the campaign's ELEC reports.
Developer Anthony Spalliero, who was arrested on May 3 for bribery charges, has also contributed to two of Northern Monmouth County's sitting state legislators.
Kyrillos received a total of $5,000 for his 2001 primary campaign fund from Spalliero, A. Spalliero Holdings and A. Spalliero Holdings Vice President Joseph Spalliero. Thompson accepted a $1,100 contribution from A. Spalliero Holdings on April 25, 2001, according to ELEC reports.
The question of development and campaign financing continues to be a decisive issue in county politics. Despite rhetoric by several lawmakers involving government reform, developers continue to funnel streams of money into the political system, ostensibly to gain access to elected officials. However, it is evident that many of these contributors are also finding substantial work projects in the county.