HOBOKEN - The state Attorney General has been invited to oversee the 4th Ward special election by both candidates. After challenger Tim Occhipinti sent a letter this morning addressed to Paula Dow, Attorney General, Councilman Michael Lenz sent a letter of his own to Trenton and also asked for oversight.
Paul Loriquet, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, confirmed on Friday afternoon that the office received the letter from Occhipinti. Loriquet said the letters are being forwarded to the appropriate agency in the Attorney General’s office. He said sending letters was the appropriate channel for the candidates to go about asking for oversight.
“We are concerned about the Michael Lenz campaign targeting first-time voters and anyone they have identified as opponents,” Occhipinti said in a letter to Dow. “The Lenz campaign and a number of blog surrogates are targeting residents by paying ‘bounties’ for names of those who vote by mail, and using intimidation tactics intended to suppress new voters and those in minority communities.”
Two local blogs have launched “a plan to take absentee ballot fraud head on with a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any individual disenfranchising the vote using absentee ballots in the Hoboken special election,” according to a release.
Occhipinti also said that Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has endorsed Lenz, is “using her office and its inherent authority in political coordination with the Lenz campaign.”
“We believe your office provides the best opportunity for a fair election process overseen by an honest arbiter with no vested interest,” Occhipinti said in the letter to Dow.
The Lenz campaign responded with their own letter to the Attorney General, also welcoming state supervision.
“The reasons given by Mr. Occhipinti for his request – including the fact that Hoboken’s Mayor Dawn Zimmer has endorsed my candidacy – border on the absurd,” Lenz said in his letter.
Lenz asked the Attorney General to “investigate solicitation of VBM ballots,” among other possible election violations.
“There is reason to believe that these tactics are being employed by Mr. Occhipinti’s campaign,” Lenz said in the letter about vote by mail abuse.
“In November 2007, a special election was held under the supervision of your office,” Lenz said. “And it is widely considered to be the most honest election held in Hoboken’s 4th Ward in a long time. I strongly urge that your office step forward once again to ensure that the voters of the Hoboken’s 4th receive the honest and fair election to which they are entitled.”
To read more about the election, pick up a copy of The Hoboken Reporter this weekend. - Ray Smith