Baraka ELEC Case Finalized

Baraka

On October 27, 2017, the Election Law Enforcement Commission brought forth complaints against Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and his campaign Treasurer Frederick Murphy, alleging violations of the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act and Commission Regulations regarding the Newark city election in 2014.

A year later, Frederick Murphy was sentenced to 2 and a half years for embezzling campaign funds by issuing checks to entities for services not rendered.  According to the US Attorney’s Office, he forged the signatures of the payees and cashed them, reporting them as expenses with Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

A consent order and final decision was finalized with ELEC regarding the complaints against Baraka and Murphy, alleging violations of the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act and Commission Regulations regarding the Newark city election seven years ago.  The respondents paid a reduced penalty ahead of the final decision.

Baraka was represented by Angelo J. Genova, Esq. and Murphy by Alan Dexter Bowman, Esq.  Baraka and Murphy represented that they did not admit or deny the allegations by entering into the final decision.  The Commission said it had listened to Baraka who said he was “unaware and did not authorize” the conduct of his former campaign treasurer and made its decision.

The Commission dismissed a number of specific allegations but noted many reporting irregularities and filings made years after the fact—in 2020 and 2021.  These reports added up to tens of thousands of dollars.

The conclusion of the ELEC decision was to impose a list of fines and penalties for the charges that were not dismissed, including a $300 reprimand of Baraka for late filing of Form D-1.  Baraka and Murphy were penalized jointly for the amount of $37,992.85 for the late reporting of 95 contributions,; late reporting the sum of contributions of $300 or less; late reporting of the correct contribution of a $2,000 contribution; late reporting of 19 contributions which totaled $24,3000; late reporting of employer and occupation information with respect to 59 contributions; late reporting for the same on a receipt for a $500 contributions; late reporting of occupation for 20 contributions; late reporting of employer addresses for 2 contributions; late reporting for 9 contributions and failing to report occupation and employer information; failing to report same for another 12 contributions; failure to report 11 contributions including currency contributions; receipt of contributions from six contributors over the limit and not refunded back; late reporting of 20 expenditures; late reporting of payee addresses for 3 expenditures; late reporting a full payee name on a $200 expenditure which incurred no further penalty; late reporting the purpose of two expenditures; late reporting the expenditure purpose of a $10,000 expenditure incurring no additional penalty; late reporting a $1,281.63 transfer to a future campaign incurring no further penalty; and for the late certification of a final report, also incurring no further penalty.

The Commission said that it had received a payment of $30,634.28 on September 9, before the final decision was made, which reduced the total joint penalty from the original $37,992.85.  Baraka paid $240 of the originally imposed reprimand of $300.

“The Baraka campaign is pleased to have resolved this matter amicably,” a statement from Angelo J. Genova, Esq., read Wednesday.  “While ELEC imposed modest fines for technical violations, all of which have since been cured by amendments to campaign reports, these fines are far less than might have been assessed. More importantly, this settlement acknowledges that the Mayor and his campaign committee, having denied any improper conduct on their part, were victims of the wrongful behavior of his campaign treasurer whose conduct precipitated this ELEC complaint. In fact, the federal court who sentenced the campaign’s treasurer in a separate prosecution of him alone, ordered restitution to the campaign of the treasurer’s ill-gotten gains. This settlement, and the court’s earlier order, affirmatively eliminates any suggestion that the Mayor or his campaign was in any way complicit or did anything wrong.”

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