Writer says that he did not mail political letter
in missive had no place in campaign
in missive had no place in campaign
By Alison granito
According to Fred Rasiewicz, he made an independent decision to release a political communication alleging that personal improprieties were committed by a candidate in the race for Millstone Township Committee, but he did not mail it out to residents.
A letter signed by Rasiewicz, a Jackson Township resident, which made allegations of personal improprieties against GOP candidate for Township Committee Roger Staib, was received via U.S. mail by township residents last weekend.
Rasiewicz said that any public perception that he was aligned with any political faction in Millstone was incorrect.
"I don’t know any of the players in Millstone. I decided to do this on my own," he said in a telephone interview on Monday, citing his reasons for putting out the information as a past personal conflict with Staib.
According to Rasiewicz, he faxed his letter to "everyone he could think of," including both the Millstone Democratic County Committee and the Millstone Republican County Committee, as well as "independent committees." However, the letter received by residents does not bear any information at the top or bottom of the page, as would be typical of a document that was faxed.
Rasiewicz said that although he distributed the letter by fax, he did not mail the letter himself. Along with his letter, some residents also received an additional document enclosed in the same envelope as Rasiewicz’s letter. This other document made allegations of personal and financial improprieties against several prominent figures in Millstone’s Republican Party, including sitting GOP Committee-man John Pfefferkorn, former GOP Committeeman William Kastning, and Steve Lambros, a former Republican candidate for Township Committee.
"I could care less about those people," Rasiewicz said in reference to the other politicians mentioned in the mailing.
Although the mailing contained a stamp that listed the return address as a post office box registered to Rasiewicz in Jackson, he said that he is not responsible for writing the second document or for the distribution of both documents via U.S. mail.
"Obviously, someone took this and ran with it," he said.
According to Fred Herman, the executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, political communications must contain information stating who funded the document’s distribution and a return address.
Herman said that violators of the state’s election laws are subject to civil penalties, including monetary fines.
In a letter sent to the Examiner last week, Rasiewicz wrote that he was "in no way coerced by or put to anything by the Democrats, Republicans, Independents or any other political party. The letter was my own idea, just stating facts.
"I am a registered Republican but I feel that even people who are affiliated with the Republican Party should live by the same standards as everyone else. Remember, the Republican Party stands for family values, and therefore I could not let this happen without voicing my opinion to the people of Millstone. I feel that the people deserved to know the truth to make an intelligent choice about who they want to run their town in these difficult economic times," he added.
Incumbent Democrat William Nurko and Democrat Chester Halka, who were ultimately victorious in last week’s election have disavowed any connection to Rasiewicz’s letter and the mailing, as has Municipal Democratic Chairman John Van Wyck.
In an interview last week Nurko stressed that the Democrats were committed to running a clean campaign.
"We wouldn’t touch that (the mailings) with a 10-foot pole," Van Wyck said previously.
On Monday, Halka condemned the contents of the letter.
"As far as we’re concerned, that did us more harm than good," he said, citing public perception that the Democrats may have been connected to the letter’s release.
"There is no room for personal stuff like that in the campaign," he added.
Staib, who acknowledges the personal impropriety addressed in Rasiewicz’s letter, said that Rasiewicz’s letter sets a precedent where "anything goes" in township politics because it pulls "innocent parties" into the political fray.
Staib also said that he does not believe Rasiewicz’s assertion that his decision to release the letter was not prompted by any interested parties in the township.