Verona’s five candidates for Town Council filed new reports with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission this past week and Dr. Christopher Tamburro disclosed an $8,200 donation from the NJEA Political Action Committee (PAC). It was the largest single donation received by any Town Council candidate in the current election cycle and the maximum legal amount that a PAC may give to a candidate under New Jersey election law.
The NJEA is the state teachers union. The local teachers union, the Verona Education Association (VEA), endorsed Tamburro, Cynthia Holland and Jason Hyndman last month, even though the Town Council is not involved with the administration of Verona’s public schools. Tamburro is the long-time president of the VEA.
In addition to the donation, the NJEA sent a text message to union members in Essex County on April 29 informing them that the VEA had endorsed three candidates and asking if the recipient could volunteer in the election. The message did not indicate which candidates the VEA had endorsed and did not specify what work volunteers would do. The NJEA did not return multiple calls from MyVeronaNJ.com about the text message. MyVeronaNJ also asked Dr. Tamburro who had paid for the NJEA text message campaign and he responded that we should contact the NJEA.
Cynthia Holland’s disclosure shows that she has donated $922.31 to her own campaign and received one $500 donation from someone else. Holland said by email on Saturday that she was offered a $1,000 contribution from the NJEA PAC, which she accepted and which will be reflected in her final election filing. She said she received no in-kind contributions from either the NJEA or VEA.
Jason Hyndman’s disclosure shows that he has received $5,418 in donations in amounts of $300 or less, and another $2,000 in amounts above that level. Hyndman said by email on Saturday that he too was offered a $1,000 contribution from the NJEA PAC, which he accepted and which will be reflected in his final election filing.
Jack McEvoy is self-funding his campaign and keeping his total spending below $5,800. As such, he is not required to make any detailed disclosures after his initial filing.
Michael Nochimson’s most recent disclosure shows that he has received $6,893.02 in donations, $3,043 of which was in individual amounts of $300 or less. In his first report, Nochimson disclosed a $2,600 donation from Power Data Advisors of Bloomfield.
Dr. Tamburro’s disclosure shows that he has received $15,717.82 in contributions including the NJEA PAC donation, only $2,517.82 of which was in individual amounts of $300 or less. Dr. Tamburro donated $3,000 to his own campaign and received a $1,000 donation from his father.
While some of the fundraising in this year’s Council race is substantial, it is less than the 2019 municipal election. Nochimson received $15,929 in that race, followed by John Fio Rito ($10,275, of which $10,000 was money he lent to his campaign), Christine McGrath ($7,148), and John Quattrocchi ($2,322.43). Alex Roman self-funded his race to a nominal amount. Only Roman and McGrath were elected.
The NJEA PAC has donated heavily to state Assembly, state Senate and gubernatorial campaigns since the start of the year, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission database. But other than Verona, it made donations to municipal candidates only in Plainfield and Hoboken, and the largest donation in those races was $1,050.
Verona’s municipal election is Tuesday, May 11. All five candidates have responded to questions from MyVeronaNJ.com about their positions and participated in candidate forums and you can find that information here. Dr. Tamburro, McEvoy and Hyndman have purchased advertising on MyVeronaNJ for their campaigns.