TRENTON – Several Middlesex County candidates for public office were among the more than 100 the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has cited for failing to disclose financial statements in regards to elections in 2017.
Though these infractions are categorized as a complaint, the agency noted that if the matters are not resolved the cited individuals could face “substantial fines.”
The agency also issued eight final decisions amounting to $121,989 in fines to seven municipal candidates and one, now defunct, political action committee, it said in its news release on June 6. Those cases were prior to 2017.
The majority of the fines announced were assessed to the now defunct Central Jersey Democratic Leadership Committee. The committee was fined more than $120,000 for failing to report more than $100,000 in contributions and expenditures from 2005 to 2010 and filing some paper work late.
Of the seven Middlesex County individuals seeking elected office cited by NJ ELEC, Cranbury’s Matthew A. Scott and Jamesburg’s Daria Ludas currently hold public office. The remaining candidates sought municipal office in Edison and one was a candidate for freeholder. Ludas, who is listed as the Jamesburg council president on the municipal website, did not respond to an email for comment.
Both their complaints are in relation to the 2017 primary.
“My expenditures for the primary were zero. … I made the mistake of thinking that if I didn’t raise or spend any money then I didn’t need to report something that didn’t happen,” Scott said on Thursday.
The Cranbury committeeman said Thursday he has contacted NJ ELEC to explain his “rookie error,” and will file the required forms. As for the necessary financial disclosure information for the general election in 2017, which were not an cited but still are required, Scott did file those forms within the allotted timeframe.
NJ ELEC, in explaining the complaints filed against those who sought office, said that it doesn’t matter if an individual has nothing to declare, they are still required to file all forms, which is basically like an affidavit.
The agency also said that it understands some office-seekers new to the scene may not be aware of all the requirements. The office said that those individuals can call NJ ELEC for guidance.
The notice of complaint and opportunity for a hearing to Scott and Ludas were dated May 30. According to the complaints, the individuals have 20 days to respond. The NJ ELEC representative said that those cited in the complaints could still face fines, but that the commission understands that not everyone seeking public office understands the rules. Those found to be in violation of campaign finance laws could face a fine up to $7,600 for each infraction.
The complaints issued from NJ ELEC are public records and can be viewed on its website as well as other documents candidates are required to file. To view the complaints and final decisions issued, select the date released box and click on June 6.