Sandy Fundraiser Holiday Party Tonight in Point Boro
Republicans invited Democrats to join in hosting event at Forte, but mayor will not attend
The Point Borough Republicans and Democrats are hosting a Superstorm Sandy fundraiser at the Forte restaurant on Bridge Avenue tonight.
All are invited to attend the event from 7 to 9 p.m.
The cost is $40 per adult, $30 per child and all payments must be made by check to "Republicans for Point Pleasant," according to the flier promoting the event that the Republican club emailed to Patch.
All proceeds will go to the "Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund" led by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie. The fund channels contributions to Sandy victims throughout many parts of the state.
Republican Club President Thomas Szymanski said the club invited the Democrats to co-host the fundraiser.
However, not all prominent Democrats are attending.
Democratic Mayor William Schroeder said he is not attending because the event has turned out to not be an attractive draw to the largest Democratic donors and because he and his wife, Bonnie, prefer to make donations to local causes, such as the volunteer fire and first aid squads and those in need identified by the Borough public schools.
"I wish them well, I really do, I think they're all good people with good intentions," Schroeder said on Monday afternoon. "I just can't attend because the largest Democratic contributors say they cannot write checks to the Republican club and because my wife and I prefer to keep our money local."
Guests are also encouraged to bring non-perishable food items "to help families in need of a Christmas dinner," the flier says. "Anyone who brings three or more non-perishable food items will have their first drink on the house."
"The two clubs will split the drink bill at the end of the night," the flier says.
For more information about how to RSVP and how to donate to the statewide fund, please see attached PDF.
Because the contributions will be paid into, and expenses will be paid from, a political campaign fund, that automatically triggers state campaign reporting requirements, according to Joseph W. Donohue, Deputy Director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcment Commission (ELEC).
Szymanski said the decision was made to ask guests to write checks to "Republicans for Point Pleasant" because the club needs to pay the Forte about $20 per person before donating the money to the statewide relief fund.
"The Forte is charging $20 and change per head, so we have to cover our bases with paying the Forte," Szymanski said. "Then the remainder goes to the relief fund."
Szymanski said he had asked Schroeder if he wanted each political party to accept payments to the event from their respective members.
"He said no, that for purposes of simplying this, it was OK for all checks to be made out to the Republican club, just as long as the money gets to where it needs to go," Szymanski said.
"This all came together at the last minute and the mayor said it was OK," Szymanski said.
Schroeder, when told of that, said, "No one ran anything past me. They didn't call me. I called Tom and asked him how it's going to work, who the checks will be made out to and he told me 'Republicans for Point Pleasant.'
"I told that to Democratic donors and they said they can't do it," Schroeder said. "At first they were happy to help. But when they found out the checks were to the Republican club, they backed out, because who knows where that money is going? I'm not saying anyone is dishonest, but I don't know if any of the money will go to the people of the Borough of Point Pleasant. And some of the donors were going to write checks for $3,000 each. I was going to bring in about $10,000."
When asked if he had told Szymanski that he thinks funds should be primarily directed to local residents, Schroeder said, "No, I didn't really tell him much of anything because it's not my place to tell people what to do. I don't know why people think I said it's OK or why they would even need my approval. It's fine with me that they're doing this, it really is. I think it's wonderful. I just don't choose to go."
Schroeder said he and Democratic donors will instead focus on making donations to people in need who have been identified by the local Borough public school officials. On Saturday, the school district had a holiday celebration event to identify and help more local residents who need assistance.
"I think keeping the money local is much more important," Schroeder said. "I'm not going to donate to a state fund."
Szymanski said that he and Republican Club Treasurer Warren Plum are "up to speed on all reporting requirements," had already known the requirements apply to this event and will make sure all reporting is done in full compliance.
Political organizations are permitted to collect and contribute donations to charities, but have to follow all of the same reporting requirements as they do with political contributions and expenses, Donohue said, adding that he and other ELEC officials cannot comment on specific political organizations, but can explain ELEC's general reporting guidelines.
The reporting guidelines include that any one donor cannot contribute more than $7,200 in one year; any contributions larger than $300 has to be reported with the name of the donor and the total amount of all contributions that were each $300 or less also have to be reported.
Because the Republicans and Democrats are splitting the bill for alcoholic beverages, they both have to report those expenses and they have to report the donations of non-perishable food items as "in-kind" contributions.