Former councilman Alex Mendez spent $67,077 in the city’s mayoral race, according to his belated 11-day pre-election campaign finance report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Mendez, who finished second place in the six-man race, still hasn’t filed his 20-day post-election report that was due in late May. He faced constant criticism for failing to disclose funds received and spent by his campaign. His main opponent, then-councilman Andre Sayegh, blasted him throughout the campaign for hiding “dark and dirty money” by failing to file campaign finance reports on time.
“Impossible,” said former school board member Pedro Rodriguez referring to the figures reported in the 11-day pre-election report. “Just to have a Sunday program for at least an hour on Dominican TV, you’re talking about a lot of dollars.”
Mendez did not respond to a call for comment for this report. Sayegh could not be reached for comment on Friday morning.
Mendez’s report shows he spent more than $2,000 on a television program run out of 486 Main Street.
Rodriguez, who finished third place, said the three top contenders spent similar amounts in the race.
The total each campaign spent in the race:
- Sayegh, who won the race, spent $366,148
- Rodriguez spent $301,870
- Detective Alex Cruz spent $131,376.
- Longtime councilman William McKoy expended $106,473
- Councilman Michael Jackson spent $20,000 (self-reported). Jackson’s 20-day post-election report was not available on Friday.
Mendez told his supporters he was running a campaign with limited resources during a rally outside City Hall. His words were betrayed by his ubiquitous campaign signs, internet ads, and television spots.
Mendez’s opponents allege he is failing to report his campaign’s true expenditure. He gave to candidates, but hasn’t reported them, said Rodriguez.
“The report is sloppy. He needs help. I’d hate to see him go down for not having a professional,” said Rodriguez. “If I were him I find someone that knows how to file these reports. He has someone that’s clueless in filling out these reports. It shows lack of knowledge.”
Rodriguez said he is willing to volunteer to help Mendez properly file the reports.
Mendez hasn’t filed a single campaign finance report on time since he began his political career. He was an at-large councilman and before that a school board member. He found himself under intense scrutiny while running for mayor.
He previously ran in races in which candidates face little scrutiny. The at-large race is always overshadowed by the battle for the mayor’s seat and the school board elections attracts little or no attention in the city.
Mendez also faced attacks from outside groups for his failure to file reports on time. A pro-Sayegh super PAC targeted him throughout the campaign.
It’s not clear how much the Super PAC spent in aiding Sayegh. Joe Waks, chairman of the Progressive Values Committee of Bayonne, on Friday, said his group’s finance report isn’t due until Jul. 15, 2018.
One mailer by the super PAC attacked Mendez for his bounced check problem. His 11-day pre-election report shows two overdraft penalties that cost him $70.