Saturday, August 22, 2015

Does the Cumberland County Democratic Committee have two chairpersons and two treasurers?

Douglas M. Long
Deputy Director
Cumberland County
Board of Chosen
Freeholders
Update 09/02/15: The Cumberland County Democratic Committee filed a new form with ELEC showing Doug Long as the Committee's chairman and Al Jones as its treasurer.

In response to a recent records request, I received a listing of Democratic and Republican County Committee members elected by partisan voters in accordance with N.J.S.A. 19:5-3. This list shows the following officers of the Democratic Committee: Douglas Long, Chairman; Nancy Sungenis, Vice Chair; Al Jones, Treasurer and Kathy Austino, Secretary. These four officers were presumably elected at the Committee's annual meeting held on June 9, 2015, i.e. the first Tuesday after the June 2, 2015 primary election as required, subject to certain exceptions, by the same statute and Article II, Section 2 of the Committee's bylaws.

The Cumberland County Democratic Committee is, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), a Political Party Committee. As such, it is required by N.J.A.C. 19:25-4.6(a) to "designate on or before July 1 in each year an organizational treasurer and an organizational depository."  The Committee's chairperson and treasurer are required by N.J.A.C. 19:25-4.6(d) to certify "as true and correct" the depository's designation.  The requirements of N.J.A.C. 19:25-4.6 are satisfied by the filing a "Form D-3" with ELEC.

The Cumberland County Democratic Committee, using the name "Cumberland County Democratic Organization," has recently filed two "Form D-3" reports, one on April 6, 2015 and the other on August 13, 2015.  Both filings list the Committee's chairperson as Matthew Zinader and its treasurer as Kelly Redman.  Thus, the chairperson and treasurer reported to ELEC differ from the chairperson and treasurer selected by the Committee at its annual meeting.

A question arises as to whether the Cumberland County Democratic Committee has both a "formal" chairperson and treasurer, i.e. those who are elected by the County Committee at it annual organizational meeting as well as an "administrative" chairperson and treasurer who are "designated" by the Committee to prepare and certify ELEC filings.  If so, then a second question arises as to whether ELEC's regulations require the actual, elected party officers to sign off on ELEC's filings or whether those regulations are broad enough to allow "stand-ins" to execute these functions.

It seems to me that the interpretation most consistent with ELEC's mission is to require the actual, elected party officials to sign and certify to ELEC filings.  Many of the filings, such as the "Form-D3," subject the signatories to "punishment," presumably under Chapter 28 of New Jersey's Criminal Code, if willfully false statements are made. Accurate reporting would be encouraged by subjecting the actual officials elected by the County Committee (in this case, Cumberland County Freeholder Deputy Director Douglas Long is the elected Committee Chair) to punishment for an untruthful filing rather than an administrative designee (in this case, Kelly Redman, who certified to ELEC filings as the Committee's treasurer appears to be employed by Deputy Director Long's Woodbury law office of Long Marmero & Associates, LLP as a "scheduling coordinator").

While I haven't checked to see if Political Party Committees in other counties similarly use "stand in" officers to sign off on ELEC filings, I do note that the officers listed on the Cumberland County Republican Committee's ELEC filings match those on the report that I received from the County.