Scutari slush fund spending draws calls for an investigation to be launched

Senate President Nicholas Scutari, widely known as “no-Show Nick,” is under scrutiny as a Democratic lawyer is calling for an investigation to be launched into the politician’s alleged use of election funds to pay for personal expenses.

The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has been urged to conduct a thorough examination of Scutari’s campaign account following a newspaper report that raised questions about the improper allocation of funds.

Stephen M. Holden, a former commissioner of ELEC, called for the investigation after reading a report that said Scutari failed to properly report the details of roughly $600,000 worth of expenses.

Holden, the deputy general counsel of the Delaware River Port Authority who served on the commission until earlier this year, conducted his own review of Scutari’s campaign finance reports and found indications of personal benefits derived from the non-specific allocation of funds.

He was one of the ELEC commissioners who resigned in protest of a law sponsored by Scutari that doubled the permissible amount of campaign contributions, gutted the state’s anti-corruption statutes, and put the enforcement panel under political control.

A retired Superior Court judge who served as counsel to the state Senate and as parliamentarian, Holden emphasized the need for further analysis to address the issue appropriately.

Tony Teixeira, Nicholas Scutari
Tony Teixeira recently resigned as chief of staff to Senate President Nicholas Scutari after he was charged with a number of federal crimes.

The controversy stems from Scutari’s failure to provide detailed information about vendors and expenses in previous campaign finance reports.

However, in his most recent filing, Scutari included a “sub payee” list that provided more transparency regarding reimbursements made to himself and his staff. The report revealed reimbursements for food costs, travel expenses, and mileage.

Scutari defended his actions, stating that he believed his reports were accurate and filed in accordance with the rules. He cited his long-time treasurer, a certified public accountant, who claimed to have followed the instructions provided by ELEC.

Scutari argued that recent changes in reporting requirements had led to the inclusion of the “sub payee” list.

Critics argue that Scutari’s lack of transparency in reporting campaign expenses raises concerns about the integrity of his financial disclosures and his commitment to transparency.

This is not the first time Scutari has faced controversy regarding campaign finance. In 2019, he was fined $3,000 by ELEC for failing to disclose over $22,000 in contributions and expenses.

The investigation into Scutari’s alleged misuse of election funds comes at a critical time when public trust in New Jersey’s political system is already wavering.

The people of New Jersey are calling for accountability and transparency from their elected officials, and it is essential that actions like these are thoroughly examined and addressed.

Scutari, who serves as the Union County Democratic Party boss as well as the state senator representing Linden, Rahway, Plainfield, and other communities, is currently running unopposed on Column A in the upcoming Democratic primary election.

As the investigation unfolds, the public will closely monitor the outcomes to ensure that elected officials are held accountable for their actions, especially when it comes to campaign finance.

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