Political Debate Ensues Between Two Opposing Candidate Volunteers for Legislative District 24 Seats
Editor’s Note: This was commentary extracted from emails on May 9, 2015, copied to the members of the media, with Lou Crescitelli (volunteering for the campaign for candidates Parker Space and Gail Phoebus) challenging Facebook posts written by Molly Whilesmith (volunteering for the Marie Bilik Campaign), both volunteers for separate campaigns. Crescitelli is the Legislative District 24 Chief of Staff and Whilesmith, a Sparta Township Councilwoman and former mayor.
Email addresses of all parties in this email dialogue as recipients and copied parties have been excluded for privacy reasons.
Your campaign appears to be burdened by an excess of gossip. I don’t even understand the first part of your message to me. I don’t understand the fascination with Bill Winkler. Mr. Winkler was Senator Bob Littell’s consultant in the 1990’s, and in 2003 he worked for the Senator and Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose in her first election victory. In 2004, he ran Steve Oroho’s successful upset campaign of a sitting Freeholder Director. In 2007, he scored a major upset for the team of Steve Oroho for Senate, Alison McHose for Assembly, Gary Chiusano for Assembly, Hal Wirths for Freeholder, and Jeff Parrott for Freeholder.
The PolitickerNJ.com story you refer to was written by David Wildstein, aka “Wally Edge” who just last week admitted to criminal conduct in the Bridgegate Scandal.
Mr. Winkler went on to run an upset victory for Mike Doherty over incumbent Senator Marcia Karrow in 2009. He also managed Parker Space’s campaign for Freeholder in 2010 which was also an upset victory. And he managed Gail Phoebus’ successful 2012 campaign for Freeholder. Then in 2013 he managed the successful campaign for Gary Chiusano for Surrogate.
As much as we would like him to be running our effort this year, he is employed elsewhere. Our consultant is Chris Russell, a well known and well respected operative who is closely affiliated with Governor Christie, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr., and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick.
So let’s agree to put aside the first part of your rambling e-mail to me.
I am not covered under the Hatch Act, so what I do in my free time is my business. I suggest you look very closely at your own situation in which you are an elected official and a representative of a lobby association of municipal governments who also lobbies on behalf of a for-profit vendor to municipal and county governments. I would think as an elected official you would be more concerned about your own potential conflict of interest than what I do during my free time.
As for your fetish regarding the use of back-up documentation at debates, this is a standard in democracies across the globe. Your husband is from the United Kingdom. I am certain he has observed Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament on television and you can’t help but notice the large binders that the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition make use of in order to get their facts straight and not mislead the people.
Before coming to Sussex County, I worked in other parts of the State. And all of them make use of documentation – whether in binders, or on laptops, or on smart phones. I worked in Congress, and it is the same there.
Interestingly enough, I have for close to two decades, observed lobbyists, like Marie Bilik with the New Jersey School Boards Association, come to committee hearings prepared with binders, to back up the claims they are making. And the people they are lobbying, the Legislators, will sit across the table, with binders with their information. It is childish of you to attempt to make an issue of this because it only points up how poor and unreflective your candidate’s arguments must be if they lack documentation of any kind.
Your statement about the New Jersey Herald is false and not truthful and whoever told you that lied. In my nine years in LD-24, no Legislator who I ever worked for turned down a debate. Oddly enough you don’t seem to be aware that there is a debate scheduled on May 26 and another is in the works. I suggest you look at the unread email in your inbox.
As for your ridiculous challenge about holding debates, are you serious? I fully expected you to make such a challenge in February. And if you had we would have had a great many debates, simply because we believe in open government. But you didn’t make it then; whether it was the ineptitude of your campaign or the fact that Marie Bilik was living and working in Virginia then or perhaps because the county insiders did not want to give Gail Phoebus and Parker Space a forum in which to discuss the Solar Bailout.
Molly, we are not the insiders in this campaign. Every one of your supporters was set to endorse Gail Phoebus until she defied the county insiders over the Solar Bailout, yourself included. You signed Gail and Parker’s joint petition until you got the word and then you became Bilik’s campaign chair. This is easily established through documents in those binders that you so much object too.
You did not ask for debates then because it was not in the interest of the county bureaucrats, county freeholders, and those consultants, attorneys, vendors, and lobbyists who do business with the county. They form the basis of Marie Bilik’s campaign. In fact, one county lobbyist for Concord Energy boasted that she not only recruited Marie Bilik to run but that she could get her to run for Freeholder if Assemblyman Space and Freeholder Phoebus played ball.
Finally, if you want to dispute something on Assemblyman Space’s personal financial disclosure, you are free to do so. I will certainly make it my business to review your allegations and I thank you for bringing them to my attention. But before becoming holier than thou over it, remember that two of your top supporters, both prominent public office holders, have been serial offenders of campaign finance and local government ethics laws. One was found to have lied about not reporting income from a vendor for which he voted on contracts, while the other spent campaign funds while failing to file reports for four years. When you contemplate making an issue of this, please contemplate them as well.
It is a pity that you have not taken up my offer to debate. I was looking forward to having one of the copied journalists moderate it, which was why I copied them (and I did get offers). I would have showed up with my facts and documentation in my binders, and you no doubt would have showed up with your opinions. It would have been an interesting contest.
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