Are Republican Parsippany-Troy Hills Township council candidates Gary Martin and Dharmesh “Danny” Desai in violation of the law for failing to file ELEC reports on time? Their opponents have asserted so in a statement. Incumbent Republican Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr., running with Matt McGrath and Adam Kandil, have called upon the Attorney General and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate their primary opponents.
The story began in the winter when Councilman Michael dePierro, with some forty years of public service, announced his retirement in January. Council President Loretta Gragnani, who has served two terms on the council and also on the Board of Adjustment, announced that she would not seek re-election to focus more time with her family.
Martin is a highly decorated retired police officer who also served on the Board of Education, making him a known name in local politics. Martin teamed up with Desai, a small business owner who originally immigrated to the United States from India, and the two launched their campaign to fill the double vacancies left with the departure of Gragnani and dePierro on the council.
Citing rising taxes in the municipality, the Martin-Desai campaign has promised to bring in fiscal conservativism to the local government, should they be elected.
The Carifi-Kandil-McGrath campaign, however, asserts that their opponents lack financial accountability.
“…Gary Martin and Dharmesh Desai have broken the law by failing to file required disclosure statements with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC),” the campaign said in a statement Tuesday. “Election regulations require that candidates for a New Jersey primary election file financial statements including disclosures of any political contributions in excess of $300, by certain deadlines. This year, the pre-primary deadlines are May 8 and May 26. According to public records available on ELEC’s website, neither Martin nor Desai have filed any of the required registration or disclosure statements. ELEC has no record of either candidate’s campaign finances or political fundraising activities.”
The Carifi campaign condemned Martin particularly, as he has run for office before and filled out the required paperwork. “Having run for both Board of Education and Township Council seats in the past, Martin, a former police officer, has filed several disclosure statements with ELEC and is well aware of the filing deadlines. Running under the banner ‘Real Republicans,’ Martin and Desai have called for greater fiscal accountability and transparency from the Township Council. Their campaign, on the other hand, is anything but accountable or transparent.”
In fact, there were no available filing reports on ELEC for Martin’s 2021 primary election bid, either.
A joint statement from the Carifi-Kandil-McGrath campaign questioned where their opponents were obtaining their funding, going so far as to accuse them of running for the benefit of “some undisclosed special interest” and calling the lack of filing unlawful.
“We believe the purpose of our campaign finance laws is to protect the integrity of our elections,” the campaign said. “Candidates who violate our campaign laws, such as Gary Martin and Danny Desai, cannot be trusted with taxpayer money. Why are Martin and Desai hiding their contributors? Who is contributing to them and how much are they contributing? Who has paid for their mailers, lawn signs, videos, and fundraisers? Failure to disclose campaign contributions raises the question of what was promised and to whom.”
Running off-the-line, Martin and Desai face the Carifi-led campaign which is ticketed with the “Regular Republican Organization.” Theirs is part of the Republican primary feud in Morris where the RRO, with Senator Joe Pennachio at the top of the line, squares off to defend his seat from Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo of the “Regular Republican Party.” Assemblymen Jay Webber and Brian Bergen of the RRO are squaring off against BettyLou DeCroche and Robert Peluso of the RRA in a bitter contest.