The State Department of Education has asked the Hamilton school district to return $25,000 in funding as a result of a department investigation into the district’s dealings with insurance provider Allen Associates of Vineland, That action was taken after FBI accusations that Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo attempted extortion by allegedly offering to convince the Hamilton school board to renew Allen Associates’ insurance contract with the district after accepting $12,400 in bribe money
The Hamilton Township Democrats today issued the following statement in response to reports of the DOE “fine”:
The Hamilton Democrats today requested that Mayor John Bencivengo reimburse Hamilton taxpayers $25,000 from his campaign fund for revenue lost by the School Board as a penalty for improper actions in connection with the no-bid insurance contract that led to his indictment.
Democrats and Republicans alike are asking why Hamilton taxpayers are being punished for actions by individuals within the school administration and the current school board who, along with the mayor, have been shown by this state action to have failed to protect the public’s interest. If the Mayor accepts our request and kicks in $25,000, then at least the taxpayers won’t be stuck with the tab for the admitted and alleged corruption.
As of his most recent reporting, the mayor’s campaign coffers total $62,921, including a recent $11,000 transfer wheeled to his account on April 19 from the local Republican Committee to appear to effectively circumvent campaign finance limits on his personal campaign account.
With it looking increasingly unlikely that the mayor will seek another term in the wake of the current scandal, he can now use some of that money to repay Hamiltonians for the damage his improper relationship with a no-bid contractor has caused.
The Democrats also note that they are still awaiting an answer to their call on the mayor and other local Republicans David Kenny and Dennis Pone to divest themselves of $2,600 in political contributions received from confessed bribe taker and Bencivengo associate Robert Warney. Mr. Warney has already admitted involvement in the insurance scandal surrounding the Mayor and a second unrelated bribery episode while on the School Board, yet the Republicans continue to hold onto his tainted money.
According to New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Records, Mr. Warney has donated $1,600 to municipal Republicans since 2009, including $1,100 to the mayor directly in March 2010, and $450 in 2009 to the Republican Municipal Committee, which included $400 for Mayor’s Ball tickets. He is also on record as having donated $50 to council members David Kenny and Dennis Pone, as well as more than $1,000 to the Mercer County Republican Committee in 2003.
Finally, the Democrats again call on the Republican council to reinstate the Municipal Ethics Commission to investigate the impacts of admitted and alleged corruption on municipal government and to suggest reforms to prevent its occurrence in the future.