It’s our rule not to publish content from the triCityNews on-line. It’s what every other newspaper did in destroying themselves. We’re not idiots. But sometimes, when the public interest demands it, we’ll break that rule. That’s the case with my Publisher’s Message scheduled to appear on Thursday — two days after the election. But I can’t stand the idea of voters not seeing it before they vote on Tuesday. So I publish a version below. Here’s your advance reading of my commentary:
This story is about one of the biggest hypocrites in Monmouth County — long-time Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini. The woman is completely full of shit. It’s unbelievable.
Yes, of course, she’s so nice in person. Hell, she even wrote me a lovely note when my dog died. That’s not what this is about. It’s about her actions as a politician. In that regard, she’s a disgrace.
Angelini and her 11th District GOP running-mate Asssemblywoman Caroline Casagrande [shown above center and right] found themselves this year in a competitive race — a rarity for Republicans in Monmouth County. This column’s deadline is just before the election on Tuesday, November 3rd.
As an Independent and economic libertarian, I’d normally vote for Angelini and Casagrande. Not this year. I want them cleared out and replaced by Republican candidates in two years who will conduct themselves like serious adults in office.
Here’s the story of Angelini’s obnoxious hypocrisy:
An independent Super PAC organized by South Jersey Democrats has thrown a political lightning strike into her race — completely out of the blue and unexpected — by launching attacks on radio and cable television against Angelini, questioning her ethics in connection with Prevention First, the non-profit she runs that combats substance abuse. They were nasty attack ads. Oh well. What goes around comes around, as you’ll read below.
The ads questioned Prevention First getting state grants while Angelini’s a state Assemblywoman. That’s quite fair, actually. I’ve wondered about that myself. The ads also inferred that too much of the funds for Prevention First go into staff salaries and her salary. That’s not so fair, given that substance abuse counseling services are labor intensive. Hey, Karma’s a bitch.
Angelini, of course, was indignant about the ads. How dare anyone question such a fine organization and its work, she thundered!
Prevention First will be unaffected by all this, which will be forgotten after the election. What scared Angelini and her running mate Casagrande are that those ads threatened their political careers.
Four years ago, Angelini and Casagrande approved an even more vicious attack by the state Republican Party smearing their opponent, then twenty six year old Vin Gopal, whose strong campaign looked like a threat. [He's now the Chairman of the Monmouth County Democratic Party.]
The attack against Gopal was probably the most outrageous one I’ve seen in my over 30 years of involvement in politics. The mailers said that campaign funds corruptly obtained by a crook who was Mayor of Perth Amboy went into Gopal’s pocket, inferring Gopal’s complicity — but at the time, Gopal was only a twenty year old college intern on the guy’s campaign! The vicious attack trying to destroy young Gopal was condemned by prominent conservative columnist Bob Ingle and the Asbury Park Press editorial board.
I hammered Angelini back then too. She was expected to be the adult in the room. Instead, she betrayed her own addiction — no pun intended, for it is an addiction — to being in power, no matter what it takes.
With the Gopal smear, a real adult would have told the Republican Party that if they sent those mailers out she’d publicly condemn them — just as she wants the Democrats to condemn the attack ads against her now. And if the Republicans sent them anyway, a real adult would have make good on that threat and gone public, attacking her own party and apologizing to Gopal. Assemblywoman Casagrande also never said a peep, although I never expected better from her. Angelini I did.
So now enjoy the show as Angelini demands her Democratic opponents Eric Houghtaling and Joanne Downey do what she and Casagrande failed to do four years ago:
“If Houghtaling and Downey had an ounce of character they would denounce these untruthful attacks immediately,” Angelini said, in a report on politickernj.com. “Sadly, based on how they have ran this campaign into the gutter, my opponents will do and say anything to get elected, including lying about a non-profit dedicated to providing mental health, substance abuse and anti-bullying programs.”
How sweet it is. Here’s more from Angelini:
“My opponents and their special interest allies have hit a new low,” said Angelini, who, the website reported, fired off a letter to the station manager of 94.3 The Point about the ads. “Their disgusting lies about a charity that provides mental health, substance abuse and anti-bullying programs to more than 10,000 children and families a year shows how heartless and sinister my opponents truly are.”
Although Angelini threatened legal action to get the ads off the air, the Super PAC paying for them, which is completely independent of the local Democrats, wasn’t budging.
“The Angelini campaign does nothing to dispute the facts,” a spokesperson for the PAC told politickernj.com. “Specifically, that the funds raised by Angelini went to her staff salaries, or how much of that went into her pocket. And then finally, the almost $400,000 of taxpayer dollars she’s received as a member of the Assembly. She’s been in Trenton so long, she might not like it, but the facts and manner in which she runs a charity are an important consideration for New Jerseyans to make on Tuesday.”
Even better, let’s replay the condemnation of Angelini and Casagrande four years ago for their own smear and destroy tactics. The best was from veteran conservative columnist Bob Ingle, who writes for Gannett newspapers and published a book on New Jersey corruption called “The Soprano State.”
Ingle said the attacks on Gopal went “beyond acceptable ethical standards, even for The Soprano State.” He cited the mailing against Gopal featuring “a $100 bill and a newspaper report with only the headline readable ‘Aide to former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas pleads guilty to money laundering.’ The text says some of that laundered money ended up ‘in an account that was used to pay Gopal’s salary.’”
But that aide who pleaded guilty to money laundering wasn’t Gopal. Yet the Republicans dragged Gopal’s name into it, and a confused voter would think it was him
“The real story is Gopal was 20 and majoring in political science at Penn State when he worked on maybe 10 campaigns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for class credit, including the one for Vas. He had nothing to do with any crime.”
“But, readers could be misled to believe Gopal did something wrong. Horse feathers. Gopal is being dragged into the gutter by Republicans. They should be ashamed of themselves for being a part of this smear tactic.”
“It is a 100 per cent bald-faced lie.”
And the Asbury Park Press editorial board condemned the Republicans for trying to destroy Gopal: “The mailer lacked a complete sense of decency and fair play, further contributing to voters’ cynicism and disgust with politicians who will do anything to win election.”
Oh well. Voters don’t care. They’re asleep. They’ll get bamboozled by Angelini’s always friendly and pleasant manner
But this is why nothing changes. While I’d hope to report that Angelini and Casagrande will go down on Election Day, defeating an incumbent legislator in New Jersey, or in Congress for that matter, is almost as hard as defeating a member of the Politiburo in an election in the old Soviet Union.
Whatever. At least I get my frustrations out about the hypocrisy of politicians like Mary Pat Angelini. Thank God I have a column like this to vent.
Yes, I feel much better now. Thank you.
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