Jackson a Case Study in Giveaway of Taxpayer Dollars to Campaign Donors

It’s an open secret in New Jersey politics: if professional firms want to get profitable public contracts, they must make donations to the candidates who are going to give them out, competitive bidding be damned.

Public contracts in Jackson Township appear to be no exception to this longstanding rule. In the wake of OCP’s recent disclosure of Ocean County’s biggest campaign spenders for the previous calendar year, a concerned Jackson resident began to wonder what they might uncover if they were to take a look at the same types of reporting data for their township council candidates that were elected in 2012, and we’ve published those findings in full below.

An objective review of the correlation between campaign donations and receipt of public contracts can only lead us to conclude that there is a “quid-pro-quo” scheme afoot, and it’s not just happening here in Jackson.

Machine Bosses Get Rich Off Of Your Property Taxes, Trenton Toothless

Quid-pro-quo, a Latin phrase, literally translates to “something for something.” In this case, campaign contributions are given with the understanding that the donor’s firm will be rewarded with a public contract. Despite New Jersey having strong pay-to-play laws on the books along with mandatory disclosure requirements, wily lawyers and accountants always seem to find a way around them, giving us the system of clientele politics present in the state to this day. Weaknesses in New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws have been well documented, such as in this report by the state comptroller’s office.

With many members of the state legislature being beneficiaries of the system as it is today, it’s no wonder that attempts to tighten pay-to-play laws have failed in the past. For them, the loyalty of politicians can be bought and sold while public entities are turned into the personal piggybanks of a select few.

The business model concocted through these loopholes has been the key to success for political bosses like Ocean County GOP chairman George Gilmore, who has successfully exploited public contracting in order to build up a warchest of campaign funds to maintain one party rule in the majority of Ocean County. It’s also the reason that professionals tend to be aligned with political parties.

Rather than competitively bidding for the lowest price and best qualifications, it’s par for the course that the only qualification to receive a public contract these days is whether or not the firm has sent a check to sponsor the campaign cocktail party.

$6.29 M In Contracts Given Away To GOP Professionals Since 2012

For the purpose of this analysis, we obtained data based on Open Public Records Act requests covering public contract expenditures in Jackson from the 4 year period following the election of Jackson Township councilmen Ken Bressi, Barry Calogero and Rob Nixon. Jackson – like every other town with a municipal utilities authority – has MUA commissioners appointed by the township council who then appoint professionals to work on behalf of the MUA, while members of the township council vote on contracts for the municipal government.

From left to right: Bressi, Calogero and Nixon

From left to right: Jackson councilmen Ken Bressi, Barry Calogero and Rob Nixon

Round Up The Usual Suspects In Jackson

In Jackson, the professional firms that have received lucrative public contracts all seem to have one thing in common: who they’ve donated to.


Is something wrong with this arrangement? You decide.

Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi is the editor of Ocean County Politics and a lifelong Ocean County resident, residing in Lacey Township. Gavin's work centers on the intersection of money and politics in Ocean County, with a focus on public corruption. In 2017 he created New Jersey's first statewide freedom of information portal, OPRAmachine.com. He can be reached via email at editor@politicsoc.com or via phone at (732)-504-3636 ext. 1 or on encrypted phone / text app Signal.

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14 Responses

  1. kickyourace says:

    $1.6 Million for Gilmore for what? Aren’t they getting $150 an hour?

    • guest says:

      Look at some of the names on this little stinking list.

      • Lakewood lalapalooza says:

        I just got a good gander at a few of the names. The first two guys on the list, turned a $500.00 contribution into $350,000 fees, another company $2,000 into over $1,6 million. Another firm $2,000 into over $1,7 million. I cannot be reading this correctly, what am I missing?

        • guest says:

          Try using common sense here. It is not a Casino, where you drop 500 bucks and hit the Mega Jackpot. Work needs to be provided , whether it be, Legal services, Accounting services or Engineering.

          • Kev says:

            Yikes. it is apparent that you have not a clue of how this works.

          • guest says:

            The list looks like a who’s who of OC. You have the Ocean County Chairmans Law Firm on there, you have the Senators Law Firm on there, you have the Assemblyman’s law firm on there, I think you have the Ocean County tax accountants firm on there, you have the Chairman of the Toms River mua and the Vice chairman of the TRMUA respectively, Accounting firm on their…The list is definitely all Republican connected firms.

          • Jorgensen says:

            It’s always the same cast of characters. You have the County Chairman , NJ Senators ex ,-Senators , Chair and co-Chair running the local Utilities Authority receiving contracts, when does this end?

          • H. G. says:

            LMAO. It does not end, That is protocol in good Ol” Ocean County.

          • guess says:

            Gee whiz,… you think there’s any connection between all of the names listed above?

          • 2000 says:

            I did not know our former Assistant Business Administrator from Brick teamed up with my former CPA from Toms River …nice work if you can get it. Nice contracts in Jaackson.

          • Cuddy says:

            For chits and giggles check out the public contract 2 of the 3 Musketeers running the TR MUA are getting in Jackson.

    • Lean says:

      That is many, many, many hours of work @ 150 bucks an hour. My calculator just blew up trying to figure it out.

  2. guest says:

    No brain surgery here. Just look at some of the names on that list of big contracts, follow them into each Town they’re involved in and connect the dots.

  3. Lorrie Marquis says:

    It appears that someone needs Calogero out of the County positions. So they get him appointed to the USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director position. He has NO agriculture background or experience. He is bringing banking and pay to play experience to the table. So the NJ farming community will suffer greatly. Sadly, there was a candidate that has farming experience as well as a couple decades of public service managing large budgets that would be an asset to the NJ farming community. But he was passed over at the last minute to cover someones issues.

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