EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The ill feelings that have accompanied many of the campaigns in New Jersey over the past few election years appears to be ready to return for this year's Township Council race in East Brunswick, as candidates for each party have traded barbs and criticism over PAC contributions and Pay for Play in the opening salvo of the general election campaign. 

Moving East Brunswick Forward, the organization representing the four Republican council candidates (Incumbents Council President Camille Ferraro, Councilman Jim Wendell, Councilman Michael Hughes, as well as Council Candidate Suzanne Leblon-Blum), sent a letter late last week to their Democratic opponents that was also provided to TAP Into East Brunswick. The body of the letter stated the following:

In light of the recent reports and coupled with the official action taken by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission against both the former and current Chairman and former Treasurer of the East Brunswick Democratic Committee for, according to the Star-Ledger, establishing a "network to get around state and local pay-to-play laws", the East Brunswick Republican Team is asking that you join us in forgoing Political Action Committee contributions to both our own campaign accounts and our party's municipal committee accounts.

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Given the stature of these two figures in your party and in your own campaigns, we feel that banning the use of money from political action committees will go a long way to increase the integrity of this election cycle, and of our own township pay-to-play ordinances - which all of us are on record as supporting.

We will be waiting to see if your actions truly match your rhetoric, and we encourage you to step up with us in not allowing the spirit of our ordinances violated here in East Brunswick.

The letter referenced recent articles published in publications such as The Star-Ledger and others where certain Middlesex County Democratic party officials, some of whom were aligned with leading county Democratic leaders in Trenton were accused of creating numerous PACs that were quite favorable to campaigns in the area and were able to skirt some of the election laws pertaining to individual campaign contributions. A few of the officials named in the previous articles are members that are also involved in the East Brunswick campaigns on an ancillary basis.

In the interest of fairness and equal time, TAP Into East Brunswick reached out to the Democratic Leadership for the four council candidates (incumbent Councilman Michael Spadafino, and Council Candidates Adam Neary, Donna McEvoy, and Edward Janzekovich) for a response, and have been provided with the following:

Thank you for your letter of August 13th. While it is not surprising that you and your running mates are attempting to divert the public's attention away from your failed record of higher taxes, cuts to services and support of the mismanaged Golden Triangle project, we strongly feel that, in the interest of the constituents you purport to serve, you should focus on how best to improve the quality of life for all East Brunswick residents.

It is ironic that your concern over PAC contributions did not extend to the hundreds of thousands of dollars our Republican mayor accepted from Tea Party Republicans in his failed legislative bid last year. When you are prepared to ask him to refund those contributions, we can have an honest discussion about how to further strengthen our pay to play laws in town.

In the meantime, we look forward to a vigorous debate about the real issues in this campaign: our plan to stabilize property taxes, restore harmful cuts to services and promote economic development along the Route 18 corridor, versus your dismal record of forcing local residents to pay ever more in property taxes while receiving ever less in services from Town Hall.

It is clear that the sparring over these issues will continue to be a major debating point throughout the campaign and that this is only the first of what is likely to be a series of disagreements over the issues of campaign contributions, pay for play, and the future vision of the direction of the township.