Home Government Elections Complaint Alleges Campaign Finance Violations by Brick BOE Slate

Complaint Alleges Campaign Finance Violations by Brick BOE Slate

Victoria Pakala (from left), Stephanie Wohlrab, John Lamela and George White
Victoria Pakala (from left), Stephanie Wohlrab, John Lamela and George White

A complaint filed against a ticket of four candidates for Brick Township Board of Education alleges the candidates failed to file mandatory campaign finance disclosure reports with the state and may have commingled finances with a separate slate of candidates for township council.

The complaint, a copy of which was provided to Shorebeat on the condition of anonymity, lists four candidates as its subject: John Lamela, Stephanie Wohlrab, Victoria Pakala and George White. The group ran as the “Clean Slate Team” for their board seats, all successfully, and will take office Jan. 1, 2016. Though elections for board seats are technically nonpartisan in New Jersey, it is common for slates of candidates to be tacitly backed by political parties. The Clean Slate team was aligned with the Democratic party in Brick.

The complaint filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission alleges the slate of candidates failed to register with the commission, nor did it file any documents detailing the sources of its finances or spending. Indeed, records from ELEC show the campaign only filed one form, known as a D-2 form, Nov. 25, three weeks after the election took place. The D-2 form establishes the four candidates as a ticket known as a joint candidates’ committee.


Still, no reports on campaign spending are listed as having been filed by ELEC. In New Jersey, candidates running jointly for boards of education are required to file the C-1 form, listing all contributions in excess of $300 in the aggregate from one source in an election. The C-1 forms, if required, are to be filed 29 days and 11 days before the election and 20 days after the election, and within 48 hours of receiving any contribution $1,400 or more within the 13 days leading up to election day.

If a group of candidates spends more than $12,300, they must also file an R-1 form, which is a more complete accounting of the campaign’s donations and expenditures, and lists all contributions in excess of $300.

Though as of Dec. 7, records from ELEC show the C-1 form had not been filed, Mitch Seim, a campaign representative provided Shorebeat with a copy of a C-1 form that he said had been sent to ELEC. According to the form, the campaign received $1,600 donations from each of its candidates for a total amount of $6,400. Donations under $300 do not need to be reported.

Seim said each of the candidates filled out forms designating themselves as candidates in August, but the forms were mistakenly never mailed to the state. He also said the campaign spent less than $12,300 and did not need to file any R-1 forms.

The complaint alleges, however, that the campaign likely spent a significant amount of money, with the filer asking the state to look into the possibility that the school board candidates used money from the Democrats’ township council campaign to fund their own. The school board candidates sent out two glossy mailers and had lawn signs printed up that were displayed around town.

The forms obtained by Shorebeat do not list the costs of the mailers, but the average prices of such documents can be obtained by reviewing similar expenditures from the township council race. In the case of the Democratic council slate, a sample of campaign finance records reviewed indicate postage for three mailers cost $8,678, $4,684 and $2,918. Mailers are often delivered to varying segments of the town, based on party affiliation, geography and other factors. Printing bills ranged from $16,484, to $9,300 to $3,621. The GOP candidates spent similar amounts on their mailers, records indicate.

ELEC is now tasked with determining the validity of the complaint and, if necessary, launching an investigation or an audit. Complaints are considered confidential, and ELEC spokesman Joseph Donohue said he could not comment on any complaints that may have been filed with the agency.

Speaking in general terms, Donohue said violating state policies related to filing campaign finance reports can carry fines of $7,600 per incident.

  • SoWhat?

    What ever happened to admitted extortionist democrat Mayor Scarpellis former business administrator and Birdsall Engineering firm executive, Scott Mc Faddens campaign finance trial and sentencing?

    • Mac

      the last I heard Vicari was going to call them as witnesses in his ‘unblemished’ character lawsuit, but was forced to drop the lawsuit when none of them could keep a straight face while testifying

    • jdjd

      When someone does something illegal, why do you care so much that he or she is a Democrat? Oh, yeah, it’s because you’re a fanatic nutbag.

  • Wally Statler

    Hmmmm this story sounds familiar-

    The campaign contributions made to the “Clean Slate” team of the Toms River Board of Education came under fire this week at a special board meeting to appoint the board’s legal counsel for 2013.

    Under fire from residents was the source of campaign contributions made in both the 2011 and 2012 campaigns of the Clean Slate. Board President, Ben Giovine told members of the public that they could find the campaign contribution information online. We went through the trouble and did the work for curious residents.

    Political Action Committee Raised $23,325.20 for Non-Paying, Non-Partisan Office.
    Combined, the three candidates and their political action committee raised $23,325.20 to run for the non-paying, non-partisan position on the school board. Of that, $8,645.41 was raised through donations under $300, an amount where the contributor source does not have to be reported. Giovine stated at the meeting that this money was tracked through the online fundraising website, Piryx.

    Our initial investigation into the campaign finances of the Clean Slate campaign of 2011 find that the campaign properly filed their forms and no contributions were reported by any of the appointed professionals, as questioned by members of the audience at Tuesday’s meeting, in any amount over $300. By law, the campaign is not required to report contributions under $300.

    However, we cannot investigate the contributions totaling $8,645.41 raised through the Piryx website. On Thursday, we asked Mr. Giovine for full disclosure of the transactions made through the Piryx system.

    Additionally, the campaign paid out 20% of their total take, $4,619.64, to Clear Edge Consulting, a political campaign management company with a Post Office Box listed in Toms River. Clear Edge Consulting is a campaign management consulting company, which identifies Mitchell Seim as its president. In 2011, the firm reportedly earned $79,000. Clear Edge was alleged at the meeting to have run other campaigns for local Ocean County Democrats.

    The group, as individuals, each raised money for through their individual campaign accounts, then funneled that money to the combined PAC account. Some expenses were paid through the individual campaigns while the bulk of the expenses were paid through the PAC.



    • Mac

      it’s just another little boy blue thingy by Gilmore, the putz of the American Republican Party Hall of Shame

  • Frank Rizzo

    Joe Scarpelli for mayor when Ducey is done….he was ten times better than any Republican…and a million times better than the Greek Pirate…

    • SoWhat?

      It figures you adore and idol a convicted felon. Fellow paisan from up north. Bada Bing bada boom. Lets elect a bribe taking extortionist because he is an italian democrat from up north.

      • Frank Rizzo

        Wow…what a disgusting racists you are….anti Italian…..

      • SoWhat?

        Half of my relatives are italian Americans. They are just not corrupt north jersey guido mafia wannabees

      • JW

        Your whiny victim complex never gives up, does it?

      • jdjd

        If he was a Republican you’d be okay with it. We get that.

  • Joseph Woolston Brick

    Another reason to make a law that no school board member may run for public office such as Mayor or Council person until five years after their tenure on a school board is over, this takes away the stepping stone that many use the school boards for and hopefully will only attract people who are interested in being on the board for actually helping kids instead of their future political careers.

  • WilliamFoster8

    looks like they were party of the ducey team and bankrolled by the infamous nicholas Montenegro

  • Chief Wahoo

    John Wohlrab, one of the company’s top New Jersey executives and a frequent spokesman, was appointed to a $27,000-a-year seat on the Union County Freeholder Board in 2003 by the county Democratic organization that has long been ruled by Lesniak.

    The appointment of Wohlrab, who has served as Waste Management New Jersey’s general manager and now is a marketing manager, sparked criticism about a possible conflict of interest in dealing with Union County waste issues. Wohlrab also served as a campaign manager for former Linden Mayor John Gregorio, another Democratic ally of Lesniak.

    Lesniak later hired Wohlrab’s wife, Stephanie Babek, as his campaign treasurer and chief fund-raiser.

    Campaign records show Lesniak, who raised more than a $1 million in staving off a tough primary challenge earlier this year, paid Babek more than $33,000 as a consultant in the months leading to the election. Babek, who has a long history as a Democratic fund-raiser, was hired last year as finance director for the Bergen County Democratic Organization.

    Babek also sells books and solicits contributions for a Lesniak non-profit organization, The Road to Justice and Peace Inc., which publishes the lawmaker’s writings on abolishing the death penalty and other pet topics. The organization’s website directs contributors to send money to Babek and Wohlrab’s address in Brick.

    Neither Babek, Wohlrab nor Lesniak returned phone calls seeking comment for this story.


  • Wally Statler

    @ Shorebeat, any update on this story? can they even swear these people in with this pending? who paid mitch seim? did they hand deliver all those mailers to every house ?