Political Fallout Of Birdsall Report Likely To Be Muted

Brian Froelich, a Democratic candidate for Monmouth County Freeholder, signaled that he wants to use the Birdsall Engineering scandal as an issue against his incumbent Republican opponents earlier this month when he told NJ.com’s cub reporter Christopher Robbins, “There’s no way that we’re going to out-fundraise a 30-year incumbent institution,” Froelich said. “They may not have Birdsall anymore, but they have a lot more people willing to support incumbents and entrenched leaders.”

If Froelich wants to make an issue of the no longer secret donations that Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Director Serena DiMaso received from Birdsall employees, he will have to first question Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal.  Gopal received $1600 in Birdsall funds for his 2012 campaign for Chairman.  Gopal’s opponent in that race, Marlboro Councilman Frank LaRocca received $4000.

Kevin McMillian’s name will be above Froelich’s on the ballot in the 11th Legislative District.  The Democratic Assembly candidate received a ‘secret’ Birdsall donation of $300 for his 2011 campaign for Neptune Township Committee.

The Star Ledger this morning published a list of the illicit donations throughout the state from Birdsall employees that were reimbursed by the company in a scheme to get around New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws.  Both Democrats and Republicans statewide received donations.  Of the 1476 illegal campaign contributions made between 2008 and 2012, 761 were made to Democrats. 651 were made to Republicans and 64 are listed as “Other.”


Posted: June 24th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Election, Birdsall Engineering | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

14 Comments on “Political Fallout Of Birdsall Report Likely To Be Muted”

  1. Question said at 8:10 am on June 24th, 2013:

    “…In Monmouth County, Birdsall’s home, records show the five current freeholders received $18,200 from 2008 to early 2012, including $5,700 to Burry, $5,370 to John Curley, $3,750 to Thomas Arnone, $2,100 to Rich Sr., and $1,280 to Serena DiMaso. Another $600 went to Clerk Claire French, records show. The freeholders said in a joint statement they “fully support and take care to comply” with all election and campaign finance laws…”

    Really? When the candidates’ record keepers saw the occupations and employers listed on the campaign contributions sheets, didn’t raise a red flag that numerous contributions were coming in from Birdsall??

  2. Sancho Panza said at 9:15 am on June 24th, 2013:

    We would have never expected anything less from our illustrious public officials. They are just continuing in a sordid (bipartisan) 50-year tradition. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  3. Middletowner said at 10:05 am on June 24th, 2013:

    Nothing can prevent you from receiving a donation. The question is: Did any of these boards (freeholder, township) award Birdsall non-bid contracts? Or where they ever picked when not having the lowest bid?

  4. Astraea said at 2:06 pm on June 24th, 2013:

    @Question – The whole point is that when the donations are less than $300, donors do NOT have to supply information about their employer. So how would the receipients’ treasurers be able to see any patterns or red flags from those contributions?! Check out the forms on the ELEC website; details are only required for contributions > $300: http://www.elec.state.nj.us/forcandidates/cf_forms.htm

  5. Blame the legislature said at 4:12 pm on June 24th, 2013:

    for concocting the craziest campaign finance “disclosure laws” in the nation.. Many candidates honestly have / had no idea if a small check and the form say it is from a housewife or teacher who might have been a spouse of a particular firm member, that is true.. Any candidate trying to infer wrongdoing in Monmouth,or any other place, now that the company is broken up, bankrupt, and now sold, is terribly green and naive, not to mention silly, since it is now well known that the former Birdsall firm gave thousands of dollars to candidates at ALL levels, in ALL parties, statewide, over many years.. Some entities hired them legally with what is called a Non-fair and Open professional appointment.. Others, like MonmouthCounty, have what is called a Fair and Open competitive proposal process, meaning,the firms have to compete based on their experience and qualifications, be evaluated and scored, and then receive a contract award by the governing body.. Do not confuse such competitive processes with the basic, construction or commodity- type of low-bid public contracting process.. They are different under NJ laws..Mr. Froelich, and any other candidate, would have a better, more credible platform and chance of success, if they offer up better ideas,and their own accomplishments and records,as to why they would do a better job.. Random innuendoes and unsubstantiated claims indicate both desperation and poor character displays, if one really wants to grow up to be an elected official!

  6. Joe DiBella said at 6:54 pm on June 24th, 2013:

    Candidate Froelich is trying to make hay on the local Patch blogs on the issue. Unfortunate for him he lacks the credibility to make a salient argument. Here is the link to the Howell Patch where he gets called out.


    I shall continue to challenge and call him out every day. Until he condemns members of how own party he should pick a different issue. The good thing is that so long as he keeps focused on blogs the better.

    Joe DiBella
    Howell Township

  7. Condemns members of his own party? said at 10:16 am on June 25th, 2013:

    I hate to use the word hypocrite, but you need to practice what you preach.


  8. JoeD. said at 1:05 pm on June 25th, 2013:

    Seriously? It was Froelich who came out screaming with outrage over this. I just pointed out that he failed to condemn his own party for taking Birdsall money. Once that was pointed out, his computer suddenly broke.

    Joe DiBella

  9. Brian Froelich, Democratic Candidate for Freeholder said at 10:37 pm on June 25th, 2013:

    Well, I’m sorry that former Republican Mayor Mr DjBella has apparently (or intentionally?) not read all of my many posts or misrepresents them. But his effort to defend the Monmouth County Republican Freeholder transgressions amounts solely to trying to blame Democrats in other areas for what they did.

    As a Freeholder candidate I was the one who originally asked the existing Freeholders to disclose the information about the donations that they received. They refused. In fact they used DiBella’s tactic. Rather than dealing with their own actions they merely said that I should just ask the Democrats what they did.

    But let’s start at the top.

    First, commentator ‘Question’ above got it right. The Freeholders said that because they reported everything therefore they did nothing wrong. Of course the whole Birdsall scam was to make donations under the $300 limit so that they didn’t have to be publically reported. But the Freeholders knew how much they got and from whom even if the pubic didn’t.

    Second, to the Middletowner commentator, there are a million ways to steer a contract thru the qualification, requirements, or award process. For example, some of the contracts are for one year but can be re-awarded without bid for several subsequent years.

    Third, to the Astraea commentator, while you don’t have to report to the public donations under $300, all donors are required to give you information including their employer- even if it is under $300. So the politicians knew who was giving the money- and why!

    Fourth, to the Blame the legislature commentator, actually New Jersey has what are considered some of the toughest pay to play laws. But it doesn’t mean that people, like Birdsall, can’t find ways to defeat the system by lying, cheating, and breaking that law. Particularly if people are willing to cooperate with them! Regarding your comments on the Monmouth County ‘Fair and Open competitive proposal process’, see my comments to Middletowner above. And on my qualification versus my Republican Freeholder opponents, I’m happy to have them compared. It would be what is called a ‘no contest’.

    Finally, in case you haven’t seen it, I’m happy to direct you to my last post at howellpatch.com/groups/brianfroelichcandidate-for-freeholders-blog/p/this-is-why-they-wouldnt-tell-us_ddb47ad2



    We welcome your participation here. However, links to campaign materials, websites or campaign activity on other sites is a privlege reserved for paying advertisers.

  10. We didn't know, said at 11:00 pm on June 25th, 2013:

    that may have been plausible at the time. However everyone knows the truth now and everyone who received money from this group since 2008 should donate the money.

    Its a terrible thing to do to these employees who were forced to give up this money.

  11. They know now! said at 11:40 pm on June 25th, 2013:

    If campaign treasurers and their respective candidates didn’t know the laws pertaining to campaign contributions–shame on them! As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    Let the chips fall where they may; I agree with the comment above mine that all monies should be donated.

    And addressing the last sentence. Those employees were not forced to cough up any monies–besides, they were reimbursed! So much for disgruntled wives. If it wasn’t for the fortitude of a “disgruntled” wife, these revelations would have never surfaced.

    Mr. Froelich brings up some excellent points if you ask me.

    With relevations about Brookdale, the Sheriff’s Department, and now the Birdsall Scandal–this year maybe very challenging to the Republican monopoly on the Freeholder Board.

    Do I hear echoes of Operation Bid Rig???

  12. Brian Froelich, Democratic Candidate for Freeholder said at 9:59 am on June 26th, 2013:

    For those interested, here is one of my statements about Birdsall.


    This is why the Monmouth County Republican Freeholders wouldn’t tell us if they received any money from Birdsall- because they did!

    It was reported recently that all of the current Ocean and Monmouth (Republican) county Freeholders received money from the indicted Birdsall organization. The records show that Monmouth politicians got over $66 thousand dollars and Birdsall received over $4 million in contracts.

    In Birdsall’s home of Monmouth County the Freeholders (Arnone, DiMaso, Burry, Curley, and Rich) received $18,200 from 2008 to early 2012. In addition Sheriff Shaun Golden, Clerk Claire French, and various Monmouth Republican organizations received Birdsall funds. Arnone and DiMaso also received donations when serving as municipal officials.

    Sources said that donors understood the message to be ‘if you want to work, you better pay up’. And a Birdsall executive admitted that these illegal donations were given to “curry favor” with officials and to “gain a competitive advantage” and that they “regularly won contracts” for the company. One article on the subject said that “(s)ecret donations flowed every year like free wine from Birdsall.”

    For example “(i)n November 2011, at a fundraiser hosted by Birdsall, the company wrote Monmouth County Freeholders Gary Rich Sr. and Lillian Burry corporate checks for $300 each, then gave Burry another $1,200 and Rich $900 in secret checks.”

    And while critics and campaign experts have said that the Birdsall money should be given back, some politicians are responding that the money has already been spent.

    Interestingly, Birdsall also gave substantial donations to Manalapan Committeeman and former Mayor Andrew Lucas who was involved in a recent controversy along with the Freeholders. The Freeholders awarded Lucas over $1 million for some land preservation rights. That transaction was widely and highly criticized.

    In November the voters’ broom will sweep clean the Freeholder/Birdsall mess.

  13. Why Has Sheriff Golden Received Illegal Money? said at 10:44 am on June 26th, 2013:

    Geez, he places people in fictitious, non-existent positions; He receives “Secret” illegal money from Birdsall Engineering–knows it as well. Did he say something?

    As the top law enforcement officer in the county, when you see something, you say something. Golden has failed that basic principle in law enforcement.

    Golden has to go!

    For viewer ad-nauseam, please see the “secret” donations as reported by the Star-Ledger investigative reporter.


  14. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » Freeholders never took illegal contributions said at 12:32 pm on July 27th, 2013:

    […] writing in response to the July 13 oped written by Monmouth County Democratic freeholder candidate Brian Froelich, “County purchasing still murky, […]