The upper echelons of Union County’s Column A political organization are occupied by politicians who seem to be so comfortable with MAGA Republicans that they are turning their backs on members of their own party or even savagely disparaging fellow Democrats.
New Jersey’s most powerful Democrat says Union County’s political boss cannot be trusted, another local lawmaker is slandering the scion of America’s most prominent Democratic family, and a former Roselle Board of Education member demanded the removal of the borough’s Democratic chairman for betraying his obligation to support the party’s nominees.
South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George E. Norcross III called Senate President Nicholas ‘No-Show Nick’ Scutari “untrustworthy” after the Linden lawmaker refused to help fund a possible bid by Steve Sweeney to reclaim his old Senate seat.
“You better believe it was outrageous that Little Nicky Scutari would refuse to support his mentor, Steve Sweeney, who supported him through good and bad times in the Senate,” said Norcross, according to an online political blog. “His word is meaningless. He’s completely untrustworthy.”
“Sweeney supported him during his criminal investigations and other civil investigations into his private law practice — supported him when he forced changes in auto insurance to benefit his ambulance chasing practice,” said Norcross.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead is another Democrat who has asked federal authorities to investigate Scutari’s alleged no-show job as Linden’s municipal prosecutor.
Armstead said a 2019 audit first revealed that the Union County political boss pocketed nearly $200,000 in paychecks and collected years of pension credits for which he was ineligible, but Scutari ultimately avoided criminal prosecution, an investigative report obtained by the USA Today Network New Jersey shows.
A 59-page report prepared for Linden by law firm Calcagni & Kanefsky, accused Scutari of “serial absenteeism” during his last five years as prosecutor.
It also compared the powerful Union County Column A political boss’ actions to those of Wayne Bryant, the former state senator found guilty in 2008 of illegally padding his pension with a no-show job.
The war of words began a few weeks ago when Sweeney asked Scutari to pledge financial support if he challenged Republican State Sen. Ed Durr, the Trump Republican truck driver who won an upset victory in 2021.
According to sources familiar with the situation Scutari agreed to help Sweeney but refused to commit to a specific amount of money for his campaign.
An independent expenditure campaign orchestrated by Column A Senator Joseph Cryan slandered the son of martyred 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy calling the famed environmental lawyer a ‘dangerous conspiracy theorist’ in ads published on Facebook.
Cryan hired a Republican to launch vitriolic attacks on former Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley, a close friend of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is a 2024 Democratic presidential candidate.
The group identified as paying for the ads is Middle Ground, a super PAC formed in late March by Christina L. Gawler, 38, a Republican who is registered to vote in Ocean County, at 3 Parkside Drive in Jackson.
Gawler’s company, MCF Consulting Group, was formed on December 8, 2022, and the GOP political operative is working in concert with Scott J Snyder, 44, who was the campaign manager for Cryan and his legislative running mates when they almost lost in 2011.
RFK Jr. hails from one of America’s most prominent Democratic families. One of his uncles was Senator Edward Kennedy, who was called a “Democratic icon” and “The Lion of the Senate.” Another uncle was President John F. Kennedy, the Democrat who was felled by an assassin’s bullet in 1963 and remains one of America’s most revered former leaders.
Union County Democratic Committee district leader and former school board member Anthony Esposito called on party leaders to remove Reginald Atkins from his post as chairman of the Roselle Democratic Committee over his support for Republicans.
Esposito said Atkins should have been removed from office after he posted a November 4, 2019, Facebook message that said, “I do not support our local municipal candidates,” referring to Democratic Mayor Christine Dansereau plus Councilwomen Denise Wilkerson and Cindy Thomas.
Esposito said both the Roselle Democratic Committee and the Union County Democratic Committee bylaws obligate all members to support all Democratic candidates nominated in a primary election.
Esposito said Atkins’ failure to do support Democratic candidates was a severe betrayal but these examples suggest that that is not uncommon among the high command of Union County’s political establishment.
Atkins, who is currently a Column A candidate for General Assembly running in the primary with convicted heroin dealer Donald Shaw, who also has the backing of Scutari and Cryan.
It is hard to imagine how Atkins, Scutari and Cryan would explain their decision to stand by a man who covered up his criminal record but given their past, nobody would believe that they are sticking with Shaw out of party loyalty.
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