Are there Republican groups from outside of Phillipsburg that are trying to buy the Phillipsburg Town Council Election.

Claim:  The Phillipsburg Republican candidates for Phillipsburg Town Council are being financed by organizaitons from outside of Phillipsburg.

Claim rating: True

Source of Claim:    The Democratic canvassers and Democratic candidates have been visiting thousands of houses in Phillipsburg during the course of the campaign season. Residents have expressed concern that it appears that the campaign for the Republican candidates for Town Council is being financed by organizations from outside of Phillipsburg. Residents have strongly expressed that they want people who live in the town to be the individuals that run and finance the campaigns for Town Council members in Phillipsburg. Hence, we are investigating this claim.

Note:  Although some may find some of the information below disturbing, the Phillipsburg Fact Check site is not alleging that there is anything illegal occuring.  Whether what is read below is considered ethical is left up to the individual reader.

I will leave it you, kind reader, as to whether you think influence is being bought and paid for.


The Republican campaign for Phillipsburg Town Council  being financed by organizations and individuals from outside of Phillipsburg.  The two organizations that are financing the Republican campaign for Phillipsburg Town Council are:

  • The Warren County Republican Committee, Doug Steinhart, Chairman
  • The Leadership Political Action Committee for Better Government, Robert Larsen, Chairman

This fact check will contain the following information below:

  • Evidence that individuals from outside of Phillipsburg are financing the campaign for the Republican Town Council candidates
  • Information regarding the organizations, and information regarding the individuals who are behind the organizations that are funding the campaign for the Republican Town Council candidates
  • Why individuals from outside of Phillipsburg may want to have control over the government of Phillipsburg

Directly below you will see the evidence that outside groups and organizations are financing the campaign for the Republican Town Council members.



DougSteingardt

The Warren County Republican Committee is not a Phillipsburg political organization and Doug Steinhardt is from Lopatcong.  I will note that it is pretty hard to see this "Paid For By" label.  I wonder why the make this "Paid For By" label so difficult to find.

RobertLarsen

The Leadership PAC for Better Government is a political action committee that was formed by individuals from outside of Phillipsburg, and the Chair of the PAC, Robert Larsen, is a Lopatcong Resident.  If you look at the attack mailers that have come to your mailbox supporting the Republicans, you will find this "Paid For By" label.

Some details about the organizations that are funding the campaign for the Republican Town Council candidates.



The Warren County Republican Committee is not a local Phillipsburg group.  This chair of this committee is Douglas Steinhardt, who is a resident of Lopatcong, New Jersey.  Doug Steinhardt is a partner with the legal firm Florio Perrucci Steinhard & Fader.

The other group you see supporting the Republican candidates for Phillipsburg Town Council is the Leadership PAC for Better Government.  The chair of this PAC is Lopatcong resident Robert Larsen.  Robert Larsen is a Commissioner for Phillipsburg Housing Authority.

LeadershipRepublicanPACThe Leadership PAC is clearly a Republican organization.  In February 2017, at a fundraising kickoff, the Warren County Republican website clearly states that contributions can be made to the Warren County Republican Committee and Robert Larsen's Leadership PAC for Better Government.

Who created Leadership PAC that Robert Larsen runs - note that Corter Kobert & Cohen is now the Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen law firm.  Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen is the law firm mentioned in the html link below.  Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen have the contract as Town Attorney for the Town of Phillipsburg.  Most donations to the political action committee came from the law firm Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader LLC.

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/phillipsburg/index.ssf/2012/03/phillipsburg_areas_political_i.html


Who are the players:

Doug Steinhardt, partner with the legal firm Florio Perrucci Steinhard & Fader

  • Chairmain, Warren County Republican Party
  • Florio Perrucci Steinhard & Fader is the law firm that represents the Phillipsburg Housing Authority
  • Doug Steinhard is a partner with the legal firm Florio Perrucci Steinhard & Fader
  • Notice on the flyers you receive in the mail supporting the Republicans that the Warren County Republican Committee paid for those flyers. In fact, Doug Steinhardt's name is on the flyers. These flyers are supporting the Republican candidates for Phillipsburg Town Council.
  • Phillipsburg Town Council members appoint five of the seven Commissioners to the Phillipsburg Housing Authority
  • The Phillipsburg Housing Authority Commissioners select the legal firm that will represent the Phillipsburg Housiing Authority. The current legal firm that represents the Phillipsburg Housing Authority is Florio Perrucci Steinhard & Fader. Doug Steinhardt is a partner of Florio Perrucci Steinhard & Fader. His law firm receives over $50,000 per year in legal fees for this position.

 

Robert Larsen, Chair of the Leadership PAC for Better Government

  • Robert Larsen is a Commisioner on the Phillipsburg Housing Authority. Robert Larsen was appointed by Republican Governor Chris Christie.
  • Robert Larsen is from Lopatcong. Robert Larson is the only non-Phillipsburg resident serving as a Commissioner on the Phillipsburg Housing Authroity.
  • Robert Larsen chairs the Leadership PAC for Better Government which is funding mailers that attack the Democratic candidates for Phillipsburg Town Council. The Leadership PAC was created by the legal firms Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen and Florio Perrucci Steinhard & Fader.
  • The Phillipsburg Town Council members select the lawyer for the town. This is worth over $150,000 per year in legal fees.
  • The Phillipsburg Town Council selects five of the seven commissioners for the Phillipsburg Housing Authority. Again, the Phillipsburg Housing authority selects the legal firm.

 

Michael Lavery, Partner of Law Firm Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen, State Chair of the Republican Party, Chairman of The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission

  • The Lavery Selvaggi Abromitis & Cohen legal firm helped to start the Leadership PAC for Better Government, a PAC that makes contributions to the Warren County Republican Committee
  • The Leadership PAC for Better Government is funding attack flyers against the Democratic candidates for Town Council, obviously hoping to get Republican Town Council members elected
  • The Town Council selects the Town Attorney.  The Town Attorney contract is worth over $150,000 anually.
  • The current Phillipsburg Town Council is Republican controlled.  ( 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats )
  • The current legal firm as the Phillipsburg Town Attorney is Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen
  • Michael Lavery is the Chair of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission
  • Current Republican Town Councilmen Todd Tersigni, Bernie Fey and Randy Piazza voted to use the legal form Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen , the two current Democratic Town Councilmen did not vote for Lavery, Selvaggi, Abromitis & Cohen.
  • Upon winding their terms this year, the following Republican Town Councilmen have receive jobs with the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which Michael Lavery is the Chair, Todd Tersigni, Bernie Fey.  The son of Randy Piazza also recently received a job with the Bridge Commission.