Republican National Committee: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) Is Running For President Despite A Failed Record As Mayor Of Newark And Senator Of New Jersey

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TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Booker has chosen Newark for his presidential campaign headquarters, a city he has used “as a steppingstone” since moving there from an affluent suburb to run for city council in 1998.
  • While Mayor of Newark, Booker was often criticized by his own party for not being focused on the “day-to-day” governing and was better suited for “speechmaking” than “governing.”
  • Six years after vowing to make Newark a “model of urban transformation,” Booker’s Newark remains an “emblem of poverty,” and residents were stuck with a city “plagued by self-dealing and mismanagement.”
  • In 2010, while Booker was mayor, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg pledged a $100 million matching gift to improve Newark’s education system, and reports now suggest the city “wasted” the money, spending over $20 million on politically connected consulting firms and generous union contracts.
  • In 2011, Booker’s own Deputy Mayor, Ron Salahuddin, was charged and convicted on conspiracy charges to support a pay-to-play scheme involving city contract kickbacks to supporters of Booker’s nonprofit Newark Now, which “acted as a clearinghouse for lucrative construction contracts in exchange for donations.”

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FROM CARPETBAGGER TO PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, BOOKER HAS USED NEWARK AND LEFT IT WORSE THAN HE FOUND IT

When Booker First Moved To Newark He Was Seen As A Carpetbagger Who Would Use “The City As A Steppingstone”

In 2000, Booker Knew That He Was Seen In Newark As A Carpetbagger, And Felt “The Pressure Of Being An Interloper From Four-Term Mayor James And His Fellow Council Members.” “Mr. Booker knows he is seen as a carpetbagger. He feels the pressure of being an interloper from four-term Mayor James and his fellow council members.” (Daniel Drummond, “Newark Newcomer,” The Washington Times,10/29/00)

Booker Moved To Newark Under A “Fellowship To Do Legal Work For The Legal Action Center For The Homeless,” But Quickly Saw Politics As “A Surer Route To Change.” “He moved to Newark with a fellowship to do legal work for the Legal Action Center for the Homeless, a nonprofit group. He says he soon saw politics as a surer route to change. Through school contacts, he had entree to city corporate and business leaders. Soon his name was on all their lips as someone who bore watching, and that buzz, as much as anything else, placed him as a new star in the city’s political firmament.” (Ronald Smothers, “Lively Council Race In Newark Pits Experience Against New Blood,” The New York Times, 6/9/98)

Some Viewed Booker’s Time In Newark As A Chance To “Fashion His Political Career.” “Mr. Booker’s city’s motto is ‘All Roads Lead to Newark.’ He has taken that to heart. Newark is where he intends to fashion his political career. Not that he doesn’t have a few fights brewing with federal officials in Washington and isn’t a frequent visitor here when politics call.” (Daniel Drummond, “Newark Newcomer,” The Washington Times, 10/29/00)

Even The Newark Residents, Which Booker Hoped To Support, Were Suspicious About His Political Motives, Many Saw Him As “Just Another Politician Using The City As A Steppingstone.” “Even those Mr. Booker is trying to help are suspicious of him. They still see him as just another politician using the city as a steppingstone. ‘He doesn’t even know anything about Newark. I have been living here since 1979 and I still don’t see a change,’ said a Brick Towers resident.” (Daniel Drummond, “Newark Newcomer,” The Washington Times, 10/29/00)

When Elected Mayor Of Newark, Booker Promised To Make Newark A Safer And More Prosperous City

Booker Pledged To Revive Newark, “A Struggling, Perseverant City Long Synonymous With Urban Failure.” “Cory A. Booker, an Ivy League-educated lawyer from the North Jersey suburbs, was sworn in as mayor of Newark Saturday, ending the 20-year run of Mayor Sharpe James and pledging to revive a struggling, perseverant city long synonymous with urban failure.”(Damien Cave, “Pledging to Revive Newark, a New Mayor Goes to Work,” The New York Times, 7/2/06)

In Booker’s First Speech As Mayor, In 2006, He Discussed Proposals To Move Newark From “Dangerous To Safe,” And From “Poor To Prosperous.” “Booker won office on May 9 with 72 percent of the vote, and as he stood before a crowd of about 2,000 supporters at a downtown auditorium, he seemed anxious to get started. His legs twitched. His eyes seemed to squint away tears during a 40-minute speech that included grievous tales of young men gunned down by gangs and proposals that Mr. Booker said would move Newark from dangerous to safe, poor to prosperous.”(Damien Cave, “Pledging to Revive Newark, a New Mayor Goes to Work,” The New York Times, 7/2/06)

Booker Claimed That His Administration Would Implement “Zero-Tolerance Policing,” “Add Hundreds Of Officers To The Streets,” And “Enforce All Laws.”“Booker said his administration would immediately implement zero-tolerance policing. Reiterating his campaign promise to add hundreds of officers to the streets, he said, ‘I will enforce all laws, from traffic laws, with people speeding down our suburban streets, to littering laws.’”(Damien Cave, “Pledging to Revive Newark, a New Mayor Goes to Work,” The New York Times, 7/2/06)

Under His Administration Booker Believed That Newark Would “Re-Emerge As One Of The Nation’s Greatest Cities.” “Booker said Newark would soon re-emerge as one of the nation’s greatest cities.”(Damien Cave, “Pledging to Revive Newark, a New Mayor Goes to Work,” The New York Times, 7/2/06)

As Mayor, Booker Showcased His Passion For Speaking Instead Of Governing And Interest In T.V. Publicity Versus The “Less-Glamorous Work” Of Running A City

“Captured In Two Books, Two Documentaries And Frequent Television Appearances,” Booker Promised To Save Newark From “Hemorrhaging Residents, Industry And Hope.” “Cory Booker’s promise — captured in two books, two documentaries and frequent television appearances — was to save a city that had been hemorrhaging residents, industry and hope since the riots that ripped it apart 45 years ago.” (Kate Zernike, “Promise Vs. Reality In Newark On Mayor’s Watch,” The New York Times, 12/13/12)

Newarkers Complained That Booker “Proved To Be A Better Marketer Than Mayor,” He Shined In The Spotlight But Showed “Little Interest In The Less-Glamorous Work Of What It Takes To Run A City.” “But a growing number of Newarkers complain that he has proved to be a better marketer than mayor, who shines in the spotlight but shows little interest in the less-glamorous work of what it takes to run a city.” (Kate Zernike, “Promise Vs. Reality In Newark On Mayor’s Watch,” The New York Times, 12/13/12)

Fellow New Jersey Democrats Have Argued That Booker “Is Better Suited To Speechmaking In Washington Than To Governing.” “Even some fellow New Jersey Democrats who believe that Mr. Booker is their best chance to oust Mr. Christie, a Republican, say he should run for Frank R. Lautenberg’s Senate seat in 2014, arguing that Mr. Booker is better suited to speechmaking in Washington than to governing a state.” (Kate Zernike, “Promise Vs. Reality In Newark On Mayor’s Watch,” The New York Times, 12/13/12)

New Jersey Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, “A Democrat Representing Newark,” Claimed That People Felt That Booker Was “Out Of The City Too Much” And Didn’t “Focus Much On The Day-To-Day.” “‘There’s a lot of frustration and disappointment,’ said Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, a Democrat representing Newark. ‘People feel that the mayor basically is out of the city too much and doesn’t focus much on the day-to-day.’” (Kate Zernike, “Promise Vs. Reality In Newark On Mayor’s Watch,” The New York Times, 12/13/12)

Years After Booker’s Promise To Make Newark A “Model Of Urban Transformation,” The City “Remains An Emblem Of Poverty”

Six Years After Vowing To Make Newark A “Model Of Urban Transformation,” Booker’s Newark Remains An “Emblem Of Poverty.” “Mr. Booker has made the rounds of the national media with his pledge to live on food stamps for a week. But his constituents do not need to be reminded that six years after the mayor came into office vowing to make Newark a ‘model of urban transformation,’ their city remains an emblem of poverty.” (Kate Zernike, “Promise Vs. Reality In Newark On Mayor’s Watch,” The New York Times, 12/13/12)

When Booker First Came To Newark He Drew Criticism As An Outsider, But Now His Criticism Comes From Newark Residents Who Once Believed In His Message Of “A Renaissance” And Received A City “Plagued By Self-Dealing And Mismanagement.” “A Stanford- and Yale-educated son of the suburbs, Mr. Booker arrived to suspicion when he moved into the Newark projects and made his unsuccessful first run for mayor. Lately, though, criticism has come even from those he won over: people working on the education projects he supports, council members who ran on his reform slate, business leaders and families who believed in his promise to bring ‘a renaissance for the rest of us’ to a city plagued by self-dealing and mismanagement.” (Kate Zernike, “Promise Vs. Reality In Newark On Mayor’s Watch,” The New York Times, 12/13/12)

During Booker’s Presidential Announcement He Added That He Would Use Newark As Headquarters For His Presidential Campaign

“Reflecting Its Central Place In Booker’s Story, Newark Will Be The Headquarters For His Campaign.” “Reflecting its central place in Booker’s story, Newark will be the headquarters for his campaign. Logistically, that home base will offer the candidate and his team easy access to the power hubs of Washington and New York, plus proximity to three major airports to facilitate travel to key primary states and fundraising hotspots around the country.” (Rebecca Buck, “Cory Booker Announces He Is Running For President,” CNN, 2/1/19)

DESPITE BEING GIVEN A $100 MILLION MATCHING GIFT DONATION TO OVERHAUL NEWARK’S SCHOOL SYSTEM, BOOKER SQUANDERED THE OPPORTUNITY

In 2010, On Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg Announced That He Would Make A $100 Million Matching Gift Donation To Newark To Transform The City’s School System

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg Announced On Oprah, Alongside Cory Booker, His Plan To Make A $100 Million Matching Donation To Newark’s Education System. “In the fall of 2010, Mark Zuckerberg announced on Oprah that he’d be making a generous gift to Newark, New Jersey. As Oprah said in her Oprah way, ‘one … hundred … million … dollars’ would be given to Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the three began the Startup: Education foundation.” (Caroline Moss, “$100 Million To Fix Newark’s Schools, And It Looks Like It Was A Waste,” Business Insider, 5/13/15)

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The Goal Was To Improve Newark’s Poor 67 Percent Graduation Rate And Create A “Symbol Of Educational Excellence For The Whole Nation.” “The plan was to  turn Newark into what Zuckerberg called ‘a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation,’ spent on retaining the best teachers, and creating environments that would produce successful students and, one day, graduates. Newark is a city wrought with crime. Its graduation rate is about 67%. It needed the help, and Booker’s vision sounded promising.” (Caroline Moss, “$100 Million To Fix Newark’s Schools, And It Looks Like It Was A Waste,” Business Insider, 5/13/15)

Within Days Of Announcing His Donation To Newark Zuckerberg Began Transferring Funds To Booker’s New Nonprofit Organization, The Foundation For Newark’s Future, Which Wasn’t Subject To Public Oversight

Three Days After Zuckerberg Announced His Intentions To Support Newark’s Schools On “Oprah” The Facebook Founder Began Moving Money From His Personal Foundation, In Palo Alto, Into Booker’s New “Foundation For Newark’s Future, In Newark.”  “Three days after ‘Oprah,’ Booker appeared on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ with Christie and Arne Duncan, and vowed, ‘We have to let Newark lead and not let people drop in from outside and point the way.’ But Newark wasn’t leading. As matching dollars were pledged, Zuckerberg’s gift moved from his foundation, in Palo Alto, into the new Foundation for Newark’s Future, in Newark.” (Dale Russakoff, “Schooled,” The New Yorker, 5/19/14)

Unlike Government Funding For Schools, Which Is Subject To Public Oversight Of Spending, Booker Found A Loophole In New Jersey Law With Philanthropic Donations That Allowed Him To Operate Newark’s Education Reform Without Any Requirement Of Public Review. “In 2010, Mayor Booker found a loophole in getting money to help fund Newark’s educational reform. It came in the form of philanthropic donations, which, unlike government funding, required no public review of priorities or spending. Gov. Christie approved the plan, and Booker’s job was to find the donors.” (Caroline Moss, “$100 Million To Fix Newark’s Schools, And It Looks Like It Was A Waste,” Business Insider, 5/13/15)

The Foundation’s Governing Board Of Trustees Determined “How, And On What,” The Foundation Spent All Of The Money That Zuckerberg Gifted To Newark. “It’s the foundation’s governing board of trustees that determines how, and on what, the foundation will spend all the gift money.” (Rich Gardella And Lisa Myers, “Two Years After Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Gift, Newark Schools Have “A Long Way To Go,” NBC News, 10/8/12)

The Voting Board Of The Nonprofit Foundation Included Booker And Other Donors Who Provided Massive Gifts To The Foundation

The Board Of The Foundation Was Made Up Of Donors Who Had Given Over $5 Million. “Initial funds go to a bevy of consultants, most of them white, most of them well connected, some of whom are getting paid $1,000 a day. One educator labels them the ‘school failure industry.’ Moreover, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a top-down effort, with politicians and the well-to-do setting the agenda. When Booker sets up a local foundation to handle Zuckerberg’s gift, the seats on the board go only to donors of at least $5 million.” (Alex Kotlowitz, “‘The Prize,’ by Dale Russakoff,” The New York Times, 8/19/15)

The Foundation For Newark’s Future’s Donor List Included Hedge Fund Managers, Venture Capitalists, Donor Advised Funds, And Private Foundations Like The Ford Foundation. “The current list of the other donors and the amounts they’ve given to match Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift. The Foundation for Newark’s Future provided it to NBC News in response to our request. William Ackman, hedge fund manager with Pershing Square Capital Management and founder of the Pershing Square Foundation: $25 million. John Doerr, venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and founder of the New Schools Venture Fund: $10 million. Goldman Sachs Gives (donor-advised charitable fund): $5 million. Ravenel Boykin Curry IV, portfolio manager with Eagle Capital Management: $5 million. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: $3 million. Ford Foundation: $1.1 million. Anonymous: $1 million. Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation: $500,000.” (Rich Gardella And Lisa Myers, “Two Years After Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Gift, Newark Schools Have “A Long Way To Go,” NBC News, 10/8/12)

Without Oversight, The Foundation For Newark’s Future Spent Millions On Consulting Firms

According To The New Yorker, The Foundation Spent More Than $20 Million On Consulting Firms, While “The Going Rate For Individual Consultants In Newark Was A Thousand Dollars A Day.” “More than twenty million dollars of Zuckerberg’s gift and matching donations went to consulting firms with various specialties: public relations, human resources, communications, data analysis, teacher evaluation. Many of the consultants had worked for Joel Klein, Teach for America, and other programs in the tight-knit reform movement, and a number of them had contracts with several school systems financed by Race to the Top grants and venture philanthropy. The going rate for individual consultants in Newark was a thousand dollars a day.” (Dale Russakoff, “Schooled,” The New Yorker, 5/19/14)

Without Tangible Results Or Public Oversight The Foundation Faced Criticism For Waste And Corruption

In 2011, Greg Taylor, President & CEO Of The Foundation For Newark’s Future Received An Annual Salary Of $306,026. (Foundation For Newark’s Future, Accessed 5/8/18)

In 2012, Greg Taylor, President & CEO Of The Foundation For Newark’s Future Received An Annual Salary Of $472,539. (Foundation For Newark’s Future, Accessed 5/8/18)

In 2013, Greg Taylor’s Final Year As President & CEO Of The Foundation For Newark’s Future, He Received A Salary Of $147,937 From January To March.(Foundation For Newark’s Future, Accessed 5/8/18)

The President Of The Urban League Of Essex County Spoke Out About The Status Of Newark’s School Systems, “Everybody’s Getting Paid But Raheem Still Can’t Read.” “‘Everybody’s getting paid but Raheem still can’t read,’ Vivian Cox Fraser, president of the Urban League of Essex County, was quoted saying.” (Caroline Moss, “$100 Million To Fix Newark’s Schools, And It Looks Like It Was A Waste,” Business Insider, 5/13/15)

An Uncovered E-Mail Exchange Between Booker And The Interim President Of The Foundation For Newark’s Future, Leaked That Zuckerberg’s Gift Would Not Be Going “Directly” To Classrooms. “If I had $100, I would not begin to think that it could begin to make a difference in a $250 million initiative and might not even bother to make the donation. It would just seem like money going into a dark hole. If I, for $100, could fund half of a class trip or a science project, that would jazz me – and likely would make me return often if I had an extra $25 to fund something else. And, as Mark’s money is not going directly in to the classrooms, this is another benefit of creating a Donors Choose type product.” (Bari Mattes, Email To Booker Team, 9/18/10)

Ultimately, Evidence Shows That The Foundation Made Little Impact On Improving Newark’s Education System, However It Did Provide More Generous Union Contracts For Teachers

In 2015, Business Insider Called Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Gift A “Waste” And Said “Newark Has Hardly Become The Symbol Of Excellence. “Today, the money is pretty much gone, and Newark has hardly become that symbol of excellence.” (Caroline Moss, “$100 Million To Fix Newark’s Schools, And It Looks Like It Was A Waste,” Business Insider, 5/13/15)

Several Years After The $100 Million Gift, Half Of Zuckerberg’s Money Was Spent On Even More Generous Contracts For The Newark Teachers Union. “The union demanded thirty-one million dollars in back pay for the two years that teachers had worked without raises—more than five times what top teachers would receive in merit bonuses under the three-year contract. Zuckerberg covered the expense, knowing that other investors would find the concession unpalatable. The total cost of the contract was about fifty million dollars.” (Dale Russakoff, “Schooled,” The New Yorker, 5/19/14)

In 2017, The Star-Ledger Reported That Newark Schools Faced $30 Million Deficits “Driven By Excessive Union Contracts,” And Millions Wasted On Poor Performing Teachers Who Couldn’t Be Fired. “One of the leading voices fighting to dismantle New Jersey’s teacher layoff law that protects tenured workers is amplifying its message amid Newark public schools’ looming $30 million budget gap. The Partnership for Educational Justice organized the lawsuit filed by six Newark parents last year challenging the rule that requires layoffs be based on seniority instead of performance.” (Karen YI, “Parents Fight Teacher Layoff Rules As Newark Schools Face $30M Deficit,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey], 3/9/17)

IN 2011, BOOKER’S DEPUTY MAYOR WAS CONVICTED ON CONSPIRACY CHARGES, AFTER A CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION PAID OUT MILLIONS TO BOOKER ALLIES

Founded In 2005, The Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp Was Created To Rebuild Newark’s Downtown, But Under Booker It Was Plagued By Cronyism And Mismanagement

“The NDCRC, As It Was Known, Had $65 Million To Spend” In A Mission To Redevelop Downtown Newark. “The NDCRC, as it was known, had $65 million to spend in its mission to create parks, develop a hotel and redesign downtown city streets.” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post9/18/11)

Founded In 2005, The NDCRC Was Established “To Buy Land For The Prudential Center And Develop The Surrounding Area,” But It Dissolved In 2011 After Not Finishing It’s Job And Doling Out “Multimillion-Dollar Contracts To Companies That Made Donations To Booker’s Pet Causes.” “The Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp., founded in 2005 to buy land for the Prudential Center and develop the surrounding area, had not completed its mission when it was dissolved in 2011 and had doled out multimillion-dollar contracts to companies that made donations to Booker’s pet causes.” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post9/18/11)

Watch Dog Officials Say That The NDCRC Was “Plagued With Cronyism, Overpaid Political Hacks And Mismanagement, Leading To Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In Wasted Public And Private Funds.” “‘The Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp. was supposed to be a nonprofit that would help eliminate downtown blight, according to Mayor Cory Booker,’ said Ken Boehm, chairman of ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center. ‘Instead, the group was plagued with cronyism, overpaid political hacks and mismanagement, leading to tens of millions of dollars in wasted public and private funds.’” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post9/18/11)

Booker’s “Cronies” At The Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp. (“NDCRC”) Included “Pablo Fonseca, Booker’s Chief Of Staff And Former Campaign Manager,” And “Jermaine James, Who Was Booker’s Campaign Treasurer.” “After Booker took office as Newark mayor in July 2006, his cronies migrated to the NDCRC. Pablo Fonseca, Booker’s chief of staff and former campaign manager, served as a board member in 2007 and 2008. And Jermaine James, who was Booker’s campaign treasurer, worked as the organization’s director of real-estate development with a salary of $134,000 in 2010.” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post9/18/11)

In Exchange For Donations To Booker’s “Charity And Mayoral Campaign,” The New York Post Reported That A Nonprofit Linked To Booker Acted As A Clearing House For City Contracts

In 2011, The New York Post Reported That A Nonprofit “Tied To Associates Of Cory Booker Acted As A Clearinghouse For Lucrative Construction Contracts In Exchange For Donations To His Charity And Mayoral Campaign.” “A Newark nonprofit tied to associates of Cory Booker acted as a clearinghouse for lucrative construction contracts in exchange for donations to his charity and mayoral campaign, The Post has learned.” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post9/18/11)

In 2006, A Demolition Contractor Received Contracts Worth $5 Million From The NDCRC After Donating To Booker’s Nonprofit Newark Now

Nicholas Mazzocchi, Owner Of The Largest Demolition Firm In New Jersey, Gained Nearly $5 Million In Contracts From The NDCRC After Donating To Newark Now In 2006, And Empower Newark, A PAC Tied To Booker, In 2007. “Among those who would benefit from the NDCRC was Nicholas Mazzocchi, who owned the largest demolition firm in New Jersey. Mazzocchi Wrecking got a $3,188,261 contract in 2007 and $1,515,744 in 2008. The company secured the initial contract after Mazzocchi donated $5,000 in 2006 to Newark Now, a Booker charity. He later gave $2,000 in 2007 to Empower Newark, a PAC tied to Booker.” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post9/18/11)

“The Initial Donation Was Likely Not A Coincidence,” In 2010 An FBI Corruption Case, Involving Booker’s Deputy Mayor Ronald Salahuddin And Nicholas Mazzocchi, Caught Salahuddin On Wiretap “Telling Mazzocchi He’d Get Him Work Around The Prudential Center If Mazzocchi Gave Money To Specific Causes And Hired A Subcontractor Linked To Salahuddin. “The initial donation was likely not a coincidence, according to FBI wiretaps in a 2010 corruption case involving Booker’s deputy mayor, Ronald Salahuddin — who was caught on tape telling Mazzocchi he’d get him work around the Prudential Center if Mazzocchi gave money to specific causes and hired a subcontractor linked to Salahuddin.” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post9/18/11)

In 2011, Ronald Salahuddin, Booker’s Deputy Mayor, Was Convicted On Conspiracy Charges For Soliciting Donations From City Contractors To Give To Newark Now

Pablo Fonseca Was Accused Of Being “The City Official Who Applied Pressure To Give Companies Work,” But Salahuddin Was “Convicted In 2011 Of Conspiracy To Commit Extortion And Sentenced In February 2013.” “Fonseca was fingered as the city official who applied pressure to give companies work, according to court papers. Salahuddin was convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to commit extortion and sentenced in February 2013 to one year in prison. Fonseca was not charged.” (Isabel Vincent And Melissa Klein, “Booker-Linked Nonprofit Involved In Pay-To-Play,” New York Post,9/18/11)

Case Documents Allege That The Conspiracy Between Convicted Defendants Deputy Mayor Salahuddin And City Contractor Sonnie Cooper Involved A Circular Plan Where Both Individuals Would Benefit From City Demolition Contracts. “The conspiracy between the two involved a circular plan whereby Salahuddin would direct government contracts to a third party, Nicholas Mazzocchi (“Mazzocchi”), if Mazzocchi would then subcontract work to Cooper. This would then benefit Salahuddin, who allegedly had a silent financial interest in Cooper’s business, S. Cooper Brothers Trucking.” (Ronald Salahuddin, United States v. Salahuddin, United States District Court For The District Of New Jersey, 10/14/11)

  • The Government Claimed That “Between July 2006 And December 2007, Salahuddin And Cooper Conspired To Use Salahuddin’s Official Position To Steer Demolition Contracts From The City Of Newark” For Their Own Profit, And The Benefit Of “Certain Political Causes Supported By The Newark Mayor’s Office.” “The Government claimed that between July 2006 and December 2007, Salahuddin and Cooper conspired to use Salahuddin’s official position to steer demolition contracts from the City of Newark and the New Jersey Devils to Mazzocchi, who owned and operated Mazzocchi Wrecking, Inc, a demolition company. If Salahuddin could award contracts to Mazzocchi—or influence other Newark officials to award contracts to Mazzocchi—then Mazzocchi was expected to subcontract work to Cooper. Cooper would profit directly through the work and Salahuddin indirectly through his hidden financial relationship with Cooper. Further, Salahuddin asked Mazzocchi to contribute to certain political causes supported by the Newark Mayor’s Office and other Newark public officials to make it appear that Mazzocchi was a “friend of the administration” in order to facilitate awarding the contracts to Mazzocchi.” (Ronald Salahuddin, United States v. Salahuddin, United States District Court For The District Of New Jersey, 10/14/11)

In The Federal Corruption Trial Of Newark Deputy Mayor Ron Salahuddin, Salahuddin “Revealed Contractor Nicholas Mazzocchi” Was Solicited By Pablo Fonseca, Booker’s Then-Chief Of Staff, To Donate $5,000 To Newark Now.“Surveillance tapes played last week in the federal corruption trial of Newark Deputy Mayor Ron Salahuddin revealed contractor Nicholas Mazzocchi donated $5,000 to Newark Now in 2006. According to Salahuddin’s recorded statements, the contribution was solicited by Booker’s then-chief of staff, Pablo Fonseca.” (David Giambusso, “Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Nonprofit Charity Remains Go-To Marketplace For City Contractors,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey]9/18/11)

  • After The Donation “Mazzocchi Was Awarded Two Emergency Demolition Contracts,” And A “$1.3 Million Demolition Contract” By A “Group Closely Tied To The Booker Administration.” “Months later, Mazzocchi was awarded two emergency demolition contracts, according to testimony. Mazzocchi was also awarded a $1.3 million demolition contract by the Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp., a now-defunct group closely tied to the Booker administration.” (David Giambusso, “Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Nonprofit Charity Remains Go-To Marketplace For City Contractors,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey]9/18/11)

BOOKER NARROWLY ESCAPED CULPABILITY FOR AN ALLY RUNNING A NEWARK WATER AGENCY INTO DISSOLUTION

Linda Watkins-Brashear, A Booker Ally, Got Caught Siphoning Off Millions From The Newark Water Agency

While Booker Was Mayor, Linda Watkins-Brashear, Director Of The Newark Watershed Conservation And Development Corp, Used NWCDC Assets “For Her Personal Gain And For The Personal Gain Of Her Friends And Colleagues.” “At the times in question, Booker, as the mayor of Newark, served as the board chairman and Payne was a Newark City Council member. ‘The board failed to supervise and monitor Watkins-Brashear, who used the NWCDC and its assets for her personal gain and for the personal gain of her friends and colleagues through numerous transactions that violated applicable New Jersey law and her fiduciary duties as an officer and employee of the NWCDC.’”(Bill Wichert, “New Jersey Water Agency Settles: Claims Ex-Board Members,” Law 360, 3/28/17)

Linda Watkins-Brashear, A Booker Ally, Was At The Center Of The Newark Watershed Conservation Development Authority Corruption Scandal, Which One “Watchdog Group Said The Authority Had Gone ‘Hog Wild,’ While Overseeing Newark’s Water And Sewer Infrastructure.” “There was a corruption scandal at the Newark Watershed Conservation Development Authority that centered on Booker’s friend and ally, Linda Watkins-Brashear. One watchdog group said the authority had gone ‘Hog Wild,’ while overseeing Newark’s water and sewer infrastructure.” (Amy S. Rosenberg, “Cory Booker’s Newark Mirage,” Politico, 7/8/16)

“Right Under The Nose Of Then-Mayor Cory Booker,” Linda Watkins-Brashear And Her Cohorts Siphoned Off “Millions Of City Dollars In Illegal Payments, Sweetheart Deals And Risky Stock Ventures.” “In 2006, she was given a $209,000 severance package while still drawing a salary. That seemed not to concern board members who governed the agency. In 2013, when Watkins-Brashear did leave amid a swirl of accusations, she got another severance package — this time for $454,000, the report states. These were just some of the accusations leveled by the comptroller’s office Wednesday in a 45-page report that accuses Watkins-Brashear and her cohorts of siphoning off millions of city dollars in illegal payments, sweetheart deals and risky stock ventures right under the nose of then-Mayor Cory Booker.” (David Giambusso, “Watershed Director Took Newark For Millions, Comptroller Says,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey], 2/20/14)

  • Linda Watkins-Brashear “Wrote Unauthorized Checks To Herself To The Tune Of $200,000” While Almost “1,000 Newark Cops, Secretaries And Clerks” Were Given Layoff Notices. “Linda Watkins-Brashear didn’t let hard times get her down, state officials say. As layoff notices were issued to almost 1,000 Newark cops, secretaries and clerks, Watkins-Brashear and friends dined on $1,400 worth of lobster, crab, filet mignon and cognac, while Newark taxpayers footed the bill, according to a scathing report issued Wednesday by the state comptroller’s office. Watkins-Brashear, the former director of the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. — a decades-old nonprofit organization that until recently ran the city’s water infrastructure — wrote unauthorized checks to herself to the tune of $200,000, the report says.” (David Giambusso, “Watershed Director Took Newark For Millions, Comptroller Says,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey], 2/20/14)

Watkins-Brasher Pleaded Guilty For False Tax Returns And The Water Agency Was Dissolved Because Of Corrupt Officials Taking Bribes And Kickbacks

In December 2015, Watkins-Brasher Plead Guilty To Conspiracy And Filing A False Income Tax Return As Her Agency Slid Into Dissolution Amid Charges Of Corruption And Mismanagement. “The former director of the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp., pleaded guilty Monday to soliciting nearly $1 million in bribes from businesses in return for overinflated and no-work contracts. Linda Watkins-Brashear, who presided over the non-profit agency as it slid to dissolution amid charges of corruption and mismanagement, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and filing a false income tax return in Newark federal court before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares.” (Tim Darragh, “Ex-Newark Watershed Director Admits Taking $1M In Kickbacks,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey], 12/21/15)

Top Officials Were Convicted Of Taking Millions In Bribes, Kickbacks And Engaging In Other Misuse Of Public Money. “Top officials were convicted of taking millions in bribes, kickbacks and engaging in other misuse of public money. Booker had to distance himself with the sheepish, yet accurate, excuse he had not been paying attention, had not been to meetings.” (Amy S. Rosenberg, “Cory Booker’s Newark Mirage,” Politico, 7/8/16)

Booker Was Sued As A Board Member Of The Agency For Failing To Provide Proper Oversight

A New Jersey Comptroller Chided Booker In A Report To The Attorney General’s Office Claiming That He Failed “To Monitor The Agency’s Dealings,” And That “He Did Not Attend Any Board Meetings Despite Being The Ex-Officio Chairman.”“The comptroller urged the Attorney General’s Office to investigate. ‘We have received the referral and will review the report from the Comptroller’s Office,’ said Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office. The report did not stop with watershed officials. It chides Booker, now a U.S. senator, and his administration for failing to monitor the agency’s dealings, saying he did not attend any board meetings despite being the ex-officio chairman.” (David Giambusso, “Watershed Director Took Newark For Millions, Comptroller Says,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey], 2/20/14)

“Despite Objections By City Council Members, Investigations By Residents Watchdog Group Newark Water Group And A Series Of Financial Misdeeds Reported In The Star-Ledger, The Booker Administration Continued To Fund No-Bid Contracts To The Agency At The Rate Of Roughly $10 Million A Year.” “Despite objections by City Council members, investigations by residents watchdog group Newark Water Group and a series of financial misdeeds reported in The Star-Ledger, the Booker administration continued to fund no-bid contracts to the agency at the rate of roughly $10 million a year.” (David Giambusso, “Watershed Director Took Newark For Millions, Comptroller Says,” The Star-Ledger [New Jersey], 2/20/14)

In 2016, The Newark Watershed Conservation And Development Corp Attempted To Hold Cory Booker And Other Board Trustees Accountable For The Corps Mismanagement And Bankruptcy. “The lawsuit alleges that the agency’s board of trustees failed to appropriately monitor Linda Watkins Brashear, then the executive director of the agency, and prevent her unlawful conduct. At the times in question, Booker, as the mayor of Newark, served as the board chairman and Payne was a Newark City Council member.”(Bill Wichert, “New Jersey Water Agency Settles: Claims Ex-Board Members,” Law 360, 3/28/17)

Booker Argued Immunity As A Public Employee And Ultimately An Insurer Of The Board Settled The Case For $1.1 Million

Booker Escaped Culpability From The Lawsuit Under Immunity As A Pubic Employee With “N.J. Stat. Ann. § 59:3-2.” “City mayor who served on Board of Trustees for debtor, a company that managed city’s water resources, was immune under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 59:3-2 because he was acting as a public employee and his actions (or inactions) were discretionary and/or legislative in nature and required the exercise of his judgment.” (United States Bankruptcy Court For The District Of New Jersey, “Newark Watershed Conservation & Dev. Corp. v. Watkins-Brashear,” 6/21/16)

  • In 2017, The Judge’s Ruling On Booker’s Immunity Was Threatened With An Appeal Until The Case Was Settled Out Of Court. “Last year, the judge granted Booker’s motion to dismiss the claims against him. As part of the settlement, the agency has agreed to dismiss its pending appeal of that decision, court documents state.”(Bill Wichert, “New Jersey Water Agency Settles: Claims Ex-Board Members,” Law 360, 3/28/17)

The Mismanagement Claims Against Booker And His Political Allies In The Lawsuit Settled For $1.1 Million. “A judge on Wednesday approved a roughly $1.1 million settlement between a defunct Newark, New Jersey, water agency and an insurer over the coverage of mismanagement claims against former agency board members, including U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J., and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., whose dismissal victory over the claims was being challenged.”(Bill Wichert, “New Jersey Water Agency Settles: Claims Ex-Board Members,” Law 360, 3/28/17)

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