New Jersey elections regulators have charged first-term Newark Mayor Ras Baraka with multiple violations of campaign finance laws.
The state Election Law Enforcement Commission filed a 28-count complaint against Baraka and his campaign treasurer, Frederick Murphy, alleging violations of campaign finance laws and regulations involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Baraka has 20 days to file an answer to the complaint and a demand for a hearing, which is dated Oct. 27.
Amiri Baraka Jr., the mayor’s brother and campaign manager, issued a statement.
“Mayor Baraka holds his campaign to the highest standards and is committed to ensuring it is in full compliance with election and campaign finance laws,” Amiri Baraka said, adding that the campaign has retained CFO Compliance, an auditing firm based in Providence, Rhode Island, that handles accounting and compliance matters for primarily Democratic campaigns.
“We are taking this matter very seriously and are currently reviewing this complaint with our legal counsel,” Amiri Baraka. The campaign did not identify the attorneys.
ELEC did not comment on the allegations.
Ras Baraka could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines if the allegations are upheld.
The complaint is broken down into contribution violations and expenditure violations.
The complaint listed 381 alleged contribution violations involving $361,168.
There were 180 instances of failure to disclose, totaling $160,607 in contributions; 161 instances of incomplete or inaccurate reports involving $155,172 in contributions; 20 instances of late reporting on $29,045 in contributions; and 12 instances of excessive contributions totaling $16,344, ELEC charges.
The complaint lists 132 expenditure violations totaling $34,348.
There were 107 instances of incomplete or inaccurate reports totaling $26,360; 24 instances of late reporting of $6,706 in expenditures; and one instance of failure to disclose an expenditure of $1,282, the complaint said.
In 2014, Baraka defeated Shavar Jeffries, a former counsel to Attorney General Anne Milgram. Jeffries is now a partner at Roseland’s Lowenstein Sandler.
Baraka has announced that he will seek a second term as mayor.
The complaint will be considered by ELEC’s three commissioners: Eric Jaso, Stephen Holden and Marguerite Simon.
All three commissioners are attorneys and were appointed by Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican. Jaso, the chairman, is with Spiro Harrison in Short Hills. He is a Republican. Holden and Simon, both Democrats, are retired Superior Court judges. Holden is the deputy general counsel to the Delaware River Port Authority. He retired from the bench in 2013. Simon, who had been the presiding judge of the General Equity Part in Bergen County until her retirement from the bench in 2004, is with Springfield’s Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins.