Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration has changed the city’s financial advising firm to a company that gave to a Hudson County Political Action Committee (PAC) that backed Sayegh in the mayoral race last year.
Hoboken-based NW Financial was awarded the $40,000 contract in late November.
“What are they going to do?” asked Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman, during the vote to approve the contract on Nov. 26.
Finance director Marge Cherone said the firm will handle projected debt service schedules, sales of bond anticipation notes, and handle financial paperwork for issuing debt through the Passaic County Improvement Authority.
NW Financial is replacing GB Associates which had served as the city’s financial advisor for three decades.
Five firms submitted proposals for the contract. Municipal officials scored the proposals: NW Financial received the highest score while Livingstone-based GB Associates came in second place.
NW Financial’s response to the request for proposal was the “most advantageous, price and other factors considered.”
Dennis J. Enright, a founding member of NW Financial, gave $1,000 to Progressive Values Committee, a Hudson County Political Action Committee (PAC), in April 2018. He also gave $2,000 to assemblyman Benjie Wimberly’s campaign on Oct. 4, 2018.
The PAC spent $138,000 to help Sayegh get elected mayor last year.
Sayegh did not respond to a request for comment.
Under the city’s pay-to-play law, a professional services firm is barred from making reportable political contributions to municipal candidates and political action committees backing them within a 12-month period. In this case, Enright made the contribution more than a year ago, allowing his firm to receive the contract without running afoul of the pay-to-play ordinance.
Last year, firm reported having $2.7 million worth of contracts with various government entities in New Jersey. It made $27,950 worth of reportable contributions to candidates and committees in 2018.
From 2006 through 2018, people tied to NW Financial made $675,911 in political contributions, mostly to various Democrat Party candidates and causes, according to New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) data.
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