Davis hits Ashe-Nadrowski over campaign mailers by political action committee

The Bayonne mayoral race has devolved into a heated back-and-forth between the two campaigns

As the May 10 municipal election inches closer, the candidates continue to clash over a number of issues, most recently including campaign mailers and attack ads. Mayor James Davis is again slamming City Council President and mayoral challenger Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, this time over a political action committee (PAC) that has launched a mailer supporting her campaign.

The move comes after Davis previously accused Ashe-Nadrowski of being associated with the “Dirty Davis” attack ad campaign by Washington, D.C.-based Citizens for Strength and Security. They also alleged she was associated with Peter Franco, a candidate for the Third Ward City Council seat who helped produce one of the aforementioned ads, and who has also been convicted by court martial for having sex with a minor in 2008.

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In response, the Ashe-Nadrowski campaign denied any association to the “Dirty Davis” ads, and in regards to Franco added that they had their own candidate in the Third Ward, Bayonne Board of Education President Maria Valado. The campaign also pointed to Davis’s ties to the political consultant Sean Caddle through the Government for the People PAC, who recently pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire plot.

Following that, the Davis campaign hit Ashe-Nadrowski over not releasing a list of donors behind the PAC running the “Dirty Davis” ads that they alleged were funded “dark money” and criticized her for not condemning Franco. Since then, the website behind the campaign, dirtydavis.com, is no longer active. Now, the campaign is hitting Ashe-Nadrowski over this new mailer that was recently sent to households in Bayonne.

Mailers a point of contention

On one side, the mailer touts Ashe-Nadrowski as being for “honesty and change for Bayonne” and highlights three ways to improve Bayonne including fixing the roads to reduce the cost of commuting, bringing back small business and “stopping City Hall handouts to big developers,” and making Bayonne more affordable, “stabilizing taxes,” and ending “giveaways for politically connected cronies.”

On the other side, the mailer claims the city is “falling down on basic services,” including “garbage piling up,” “small businesses shutting down,” and “roads being a mess,” in addition to the cost of driving to and from as well as the cost of living in Bayonne as “skyrocketing.” That side of the mailer gives a brief bio of Ashe-Nadrowski, noting that she has “spent her life fixing and features a photo of her next to it.

The mailer also noted that it was paid for by the Committee to Advance New Jersey. According to the disclosure on the mailer, the PAC is located at 1001 Boxwood Court, Mahwah. That matches the address of a condo within a residential housing development, which online searches indicate is owned by Chris Joseph Direse. It is not clear what his connection is to the PAC, if any. Direse could not be reach be for comment.

A search of the New Jersey State Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) database revealed that organization has not been registered as a political committee or an independent expenditure committee, which the Davis campaign alleged was a potential violation of state election law by the PAC.

The other side of the mailer, via the Davis campaign.

‘Committee to Advance New Jersey?’

The group also appears to not be registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Davis campaign characterized it as Ashe-Nadrowski’s “latest shady dark money organization” and again demanded she release a list of donors.

“Sharon Nadrowski just can’t stop herself from engaging in the kinds of sleazy, dark money tactics that make people hate politics and lose faith in our government institutions,” said Davis campaign spokesman Phil Swibinski. “Once again, the Davis campaign is demanding that Nadrowski reveal who is funding her dark money campaign, because Bayonne residents deserve to know what developers or big money corporations are bankrolling the Nadrowski candidacy.”

In response to the Davis campaign press release, Ashe-Nadrowski campaign spokeswoman Raine Cuseglio said it has commented on the use of PACs last week and maintains the same comment: “Once again, Mayor Davis is lying… The only candidate who has admitted to coordinating with dark money is Jimmy Davis funded by big developers through Ray Lesniak and convicted murderer Sean Caddle.” Cuseglio added that the campaign would be moving forward with “issues people care about,” pointing to a recent initiative by Ashe-Nadrowski she calls “Solution Sunday.”

Regardless, mailers have become a topic of discussion as of late in the campaign, with the Ashe-Nadrowski candidate for the At-Large City Council seat and Board of Education Trustee Jodi Casais attacking Davis for a recent mailer by Suez Water touting the city’s water contract with the entity. In response, Davis initially denied any political support from Suez, which Casais then proved otherwise, causing Davis to donate the Suez contributions he had received in the past to a local charity.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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