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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.

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.
Hi 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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