Councilman Alex Mendez, who has been under heavy fire for his problem-plagued personal, business, and campaign finances for the past weeks, is now taking fire from a super PAC seeking to eliminate him from the six men mayoral race.
Mendez’s people blasted councilman Andre Sayegh on Tuesday night for a mailer sent out to voters in the city by the super PAC, the Progressive Values Committee of Bayonne. His team argues some of the people in the political action committee have direct ties to Sayegh.
For example, Joe Waks, chairman of the Progressive Values Committee, contributed $300 to Sayegh in the last mayoral race four years ago, according to campaign finance reports cited by school board member Joel Ramirez, who is an ardent Mendez supporter
“These same people that control the PACs, political mobsters, are donating to Andre Sayegh,” said Ramirez, who was upset by the mailer that features a close-up mug of Mendez slamming him for his repeated failures to file campaign finance reports on time. “Your blood boils, you get heated, when you come home to see this kind of junk. Don’t run on attacking other individuals who have families and friends.”
The flyer asks, “What is Alex Mendez hiding?” while stating Mendez failed to file campaign finance reports on time in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Mendez, who has been delinquent in filing his campaign reports in his past three bids for public office, said the photo on the flyer, which was viewed by his 9-year-old son, makes him look like a criminal.
Mendez accused Sayegh of sending the flyer via his donor “lying” to the community. “I have a good relationship with ELEC. In 2012 and 2013, I presented my report. I’ve been late on my last report. That’s not criminal,” said Mendez, who is three weeks late in filing his 29-day pre-election report.
Mendez has never filed his reports on time. After his successful 2014 election, Mendez (pictured) was an entire year late in filing his 20-day post-election campaign finance report.
Sayegh has said Mendez is hiding “dark” and “dirty” money by failing to file campaign reports on time. “He’s not telling us where his money is coming from. He’s not telling us how he’s paying for his campaign materials,” said Sayegh on Wednesday morning. Of the six candidates running Mendez has the most campaign signs in the city, according to three of his opponents.
“I’d venture to say he has more signs than all of us combined,” said Sayegh.
Sayegh has denied having anything to do with the mailer that was released on Tuesday. “I’m being very frank with you. Yesterday, I saw that piece for the first time,” he said.
Most of his opponents in the race do not buy it. Some were disturbed by super PAC’s spending to bolster Sayegh’s candidacy.
“It’s sad Andre has resorted to that type of politicking,” said former school board member Pedro Rodriguez. “This time it’s Mendez, next time it could be me or any other candidate.”
“It points the finger at bigger interest groups trying to get a hold of Paterson,” said councilman Michael Jackson. “Why they chose to target Mendez? I can’t answer that question.”
Some believe Sayegh and Mendez are the top two contenders in the six-person race. However, there is no credible survey ranking the six men.
Jackson said Mendez is perceived as second place which is probably encouraging the attacks.
Councilman William McKoy said the “connection is clear.” PACs legally cannot coordinate with campaigns.
Ed Farmer, who hosted a thousand-dollar per plate fundraiser for Sayegh three weeks ago, is part of the Progressive Values Committee, according to documents the PAC filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
Farmer is the former chief of staff for congressman Bill Pascrell. He also owns a grant writing firm – Sayegh has talked about hiring a grant writer for the city.
“It shows they are desperate. They have made this attempt before. They are looking to buying this election by any means by bringing in big outside money,” said McKoy. The PAC had $550,000 last year. It has $30,300 in the account, according to a finance report filed with the state on Jan. 19, 2018.
Both Jackson and McKoy indicated they may file complaint for the alleged coordination between the PAC and Sayegh campaign.
“I don’t know anything about this super PAC,” said Sayegh. When asked about Farmer’s connection to the PAC, Sayegh said, “When I tell you, I don’t know anything about that PAC, I’m telling you the truth.”