Essex County Executive Joe DiVencenzo, a Democrat known around the state as Joe D., controls the political machine in Newark. That makes him one of the most powerful political bosses in the state.
But in 2013, an Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) complaint was filed against him, alleging that he used $72,000 in campaign funds for personal use: expensive dinners, trips to Puerto Rico, a gym membership, etc. The case never went forward because there were vacancies on the commission, and they lacked a quorum.
Why were there vacancies on the Election Commission? Because Gov. Chris Christie, while busy running for re-election, had not filled those seats. But we also know, because of the Bridgegate investigations, that Gov. Christie was operating a rewards and punishment system for Democrats who were asked to endorse him for re-election. And Joe D., to the utter shock of state Democrats, endorsed Christie.
Now, with Gov. Christie on the way out, an appeals court has ruled that despite the vacancies, ELEC does have standing to proceed with the complaint against DiVencenzo.
WNYC’s Nancy Solomon spoke with Richard Hake about what’s next for Joe D.
Read the full story on WNYC News, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.