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Should the Borough’s contract holders be Examined For Possible Campaign Funding Violations?


Should the Borough of Glen Rock’s awarded contracts for the positions of Borough Attorney and Borough Engineer be examined for possible campaign funding violations?

The resolutions that covers the contracts, awarded under the rules of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) ‘Fair and Open’ process, restrict contract award winners from donating to local campaigns during the life of their contract or during the year previous to a contract award.”

There are three methods for fulfilling a municipality contract. They are:

Fair and Open:

  • This is a competitive process that complies with the rules and restrictions set forth by the State’s Pay-to-Play law. Specifically, this includes, at minimum:
    • However a municipality, is authorized to establish by ordinance, resolution or regulation, as may be appropriate by:
      •   Limiting the awarding of public contracts to business entities that have made a contribution in the year prior to being up for a contract.
      • – Limiting the contributions that the holders of a contract can make during the term of a contract.
      • See:  NJS C.40A:11-51
    • Public advertisement (either conventionally in newspapers OR posted on the borough’s website) with “sufficient time to give notice.”
    • Awarded under “a process that provides for public solicitation of proposals OR qualifications.”
    • Is established on the basis of an award and disclosure process documented in writing prior to any solicitation.
    • Is publicly opened and announced when awarded.
    • Business entities are able to make local contributions to local campaigns prior to being awarded a contract or during a contracts term.

Non-Fair and Open:

  • This process does not require the competitive elements of the fair and open process.
  • In ‘non-fair and open’: the local unit may award a contract subject to vendor reporting requirements and certifications submitted by the vendor.
  • It prohibits the business entity from making contributions in the year prior to the awarding of a contract and during its term.

Pay and Play:
Law, N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.3 through 20.25, prohibits an agency from awarding contracts with a value in excess of $17,500 to a business entity that made 2 reportable contributions to:

  • Any municipal committee of a political party if a member of that party is in office as a member of the governing body of the county or municipality when the contract is awarded. This applies similarly to county government committees and elected officials.
  • Any candidate committee of a person serving in an elected position of the county or municipality in the year preceding award of the contract.

Last year the Borough of Glen Rock entered into several professional service contracts. Two one year contracts were awarded through the fair and open process. They were:

  • Borough Attorney, awarded to the Werner, Suarez & Moran, LLC law firm
  • Borough Engineer, awarded to the Boswell Engineering Company.

For these vendors the Borough added to the fair and open process by including resolution language that prohibited these firms from making contributions to local campaigns. Both firms complied with the resolution language requiring them to   “complete and submit  a Business Entity Disclosure Certification which certifies that they have not made any reportable contributions to a political or candidate committee in the Borough of Glen Rock in the previous one year and they understand that the contract will prohibit them from making any reportable contributions through the term of the contract”. However, while under their contracts, both Boswell Engineering ($2000) and Werner, Suarez & Moran, LLC ($1000)  did, in fact, make sizable donations to Sonzgni-Bond for Glen Rock, the Glen Rock Council Joint Candidates Committee.

The question becomes should the borough attorney be able to renew their contract after ignoring contract language forbidding  them from contributing to local election campaigns.

** Updated:  

  • Borough Attorney Suarez did receive his donation back from the Sonzgni – Bond for Glen Rock Candidates Committee.
  • Borough Engineer was not rehired.

As a result of this situation, the council is looking at initiating a pay-to-play policy for future professional service contracts.  The First Reading of the Ordinance took place on 1/11/2017 at a Public Council meeting and passed.

Reading the thoughts of several Glen Rock residents through social media, it appears that the contracts awarded by the Borough of Glen Rock should be examined.

What are your thoughts Glen Rock?

  • In full Disclosure, Mayor Packer responded to me in late December. When we stated we would like to do a face to face, there was no answer from him. Because of this, I chose not to post his email responses to me in this article.  I also reached out to the council for a response, but received none. 
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