"It's my understanding that it's an election law infraction," said Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, who spoke to Impreveduto last week. "I don't think he was happy, but he seemed to be confident that it was something that could be cleared up."
Impreveduto, who lives in Secaucus, told several newspapers that the investigation focused on charges to his American Express account paid for by his campaign fund that appear to have been used for personal expenses in 2001.
Impreveduto told the Record of Bergen County that he his wife had accompanied him on at least one trip that he charged on his American Express card which he wrote off his campaign fund.
In fact, thousands of dollars in payments to American Express show up each month on Impreveduto's campaign election reports going back to 1999.
In December of that year, a report shows $2,715.94 paid to AmEx - but that's one of the smaller payments.
July of 2000 shows $6,486.96, and August of 2000 shows $4,552.67. In December of that year, it topped out at $13,603.70.
Payments continuing though last year were consistently in the thousands.
Who is investigating?
Campaign fund violations can be investigated by the Attorney General or ELEC
The Department of Criminal Justice would neither confirm nor deny the investigation. Spokesperson John Haggerty said that this is the Attorney General's policy toward any investigation.
Fred Herrmann, Executive Director of New Jersey ELEC, also said that his agency would neither confirm nor deny investigations.
Herrmann said that the ELEC investigates how a candidate can use campaign money.
"It's basically what's appropriate or not for legitimate uses of campaign money," said Herrmann. "The devil is always in the details. It you bring a spouse, you have to demonstrate that the spouse was there for a campaign purpose and not a personal purpose. These are issues of fact and interpretation."
Herrmann said that the law for itemizing is that a filer has to specify any expenses.
ELEC has a four-member commission with two Republicans and two Democrats who work in a non-partisan manner. Matters investigated by ELEC are civil cases, and subject to fine.
The Attorney General investigates whether the report is truthful, which is a criminal investigation, punishable by jail time.
Herrman said that the ELEC is available to any candidate or office holder who has questions about what is permissible.
"We have an advisory opinion process," said Herrmann. "If there is any question as to what they can do, they can ask for an advisory opinion in writing, or they can simply call the staff."
The written advisory opinion offers legal protection in case the expense is later questioned.
Made them notice
Sources say that attention was drawn to Impreveduto's records at first because of something unusual, even if it wasn't illegal.
What happened was, said two prominent area Democrats, Impreveduto paid for a high-profile Republican campaign consultant for his brother, who ran for Town Council in his hometown of Holmdel in 2003. It was unusual for a Democrat to be hiring a Republican consultant, so even though there was nothing illegal about the matter, it raised eyebrows.
According to the brother's ELEC reports, Martin Packman, labor attorney for the town of Secaucus, donated to the brother's campaign, as did Schoor DePalma Inc., an engineering firm that frequently does work in Secaucus. Both Packman and Schoor DePalma have a history of supporting Democratic candidates, not Republicans.
Anthony Impreveduto, 56, a Democrat, was elected to the State Assembly in 1987, was Minority Conference Leader from 1994 to 2001, and has been Deputy Speaker since 2002.
He chairs the Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities Committee and serves on the Transportation and the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards.
Impreveduto served as a 2nd Ward councilman from 1981 to 1992.
Impreveduto did not return numerous phone calls for this article.
Reporter Al Sullivan contributed to this report.