Healy says he’ll return money from questionable fundraiser

Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy, facing accusations that his campaign sought to circumvent campaign finance rules at a fundraiser Wednesday, is returning all of the money raised at the event.

Josh Henne, a spokesman for the Healy campaign, said though the campaign “always follows both the letter and the spirit of the law… Healy has already instructed his finance team to return any money raised last night.”

According to the invitation, the fundraiser was hosted by MBI Gluck Shaw lobbyists Paul Bontempo and Rudy Garcia and Verizon Vice President of Government Affairs Uli Diaz.  It was held at the Cedar Grove home of Jose “Pepi” Garcia, according to the invitation to the Feb. 27 event.

The invitation asked supporters for a $1,000 donation and gave the option to donate directly to the Healy campaign or to “For New Jersey Families,” an independent expenditure committee.  The invitation clearly outlined that donating to the committee meant “no limits – no pay to play.”

Under campaign finance law, independent expenditure groups may not coordinate with a campaign, said state Election Law Enforcement Commission Executive Director Jeff Brindle, who was speaking generally and not about the specific fundraiser.

The group was formed Jan. 30 by Rich Torraca, a state Democratic operative.  Torraca did not return a call or email for comment.

Early Thursday, Henne said the campaign had no knowledge of the invitation.  Later, he issued a statement saying the money would be returned.

Healy is known to have attended the fundraiser and the invitation  has the required “Paid for by Team Healy 2013″ line.

Bontempo, who is president and director of MBI Gluck Shaw, did not return a call for comment.  Diaz also did not return a call for comment.

"He would always say ‘Joe, look where the parade is going and jump in front.'"
—Newark East Ward Democratic leader Joe Parlavecchio, on his friend, the late Ray Durkin.