Anthony Romano’s decision to simultaneously run for re-election as Freeholder and for Mayor of Hoboken is potentially against state election law and should not be allowed, said mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco, pointing to state statute that does not allow candidates to seek offices that the state constitution would not allow them to hold. DeFusco is confident that the Hudson County Clerk’s Office will advise Romano that he cannot run for both positions on the November ballot. Romano filed petitions with the city clerk today.
“Although I welcome all candidates to the race, the simple fact is that Freeholder Romano can't simultaneously serve as Freeholder and Mayor, and thus is prohibited from running for both at the same time according to state statute” said DeFusco. “Compelling legal questions aside, this decision sends a terrible message to voters by reinforcing old stereotypes about politicians cracking back room deals and thinking the rules don’t apply to them. I’m running for Mayor with no conflicts and nothing to personally gain, because I believe our city needs new ideas and new energy. The same can’t be said of my opponents, including Anthony Romano.”
DeFusco first voiced his objections to Romano’s candidacy last week after a letter filed on behalf of a concerned citizen challenging the legality of the decision was recently made public. The letter outlines specific sections of state law that Romano’s dual candidacy would violate, most notably NJ Revised Statute 19:3-5.1 which states that no candidate may appear twice on a ballot for offices which the state constitution would prohibit “the simultaneous holding” thereof. In addition, the letter lays out the possibility that the Freeholder seat could remain vacant for up to a year if Romano wins both elections.
In addition to the legal issues related directly to his potential candidacy, DeFusco is highlighting the clear possibility that Romano has intermingled funds from his Freeholder and Mayoral campaigns. Romano is using the same headquarters for both campaigns and much of the same campaign staff. His campaign did not file an official D-1 form with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission until late July, over a month after Romano mayoral materials were seen around Hoboken. All of this points strongly to a mixing of funds, an action that would violate election law, however given Romano’s history of failing to file campaign finance reports in the past, it is impossible to determine conclusively.
During his current term in office, Romano failed to file required ELEC reports for more than 31 consecutive months, with at least $31,300 of activity hidden during that time. Perhaps most troublingly, Romano has refused to file his 20 day post-primary ELEC report for this year and is refusing to file any mayoral ELEC report until October, denying voters the chance to see who is funding either of his simultaneous campaigns.
“Hoboken voters deserve to know who is funding all of the campaigns seeking their support, and candidates who hide behind loopholes or just ignore the law to shield their donors from public scrutiny are not promoting open government and transparency,” said DeFusco. “Anthony Romano has habitually failed to file mandatory campaign finance reports, leaving Hoboken completely in the dark about who is financing his campaign. This is unacceptable and yet another reason why his dual candidacy is problematic.”