HOLMDEL, NJ - Republican candidate Phil Rizzo is having a tough week, along with his new local running mates who were hoping to count on him.

After disclosures that he pays no property taxes on a multi-million dollar home that he sold to his church where he is the pastor and attacking Catholics on a video that  Catholics were in bondage to their sin and their faith, Phil Rizzo got more bad news.

The Election Law Enforcement Commission just denied his application for matching funds based on missing deadlines and not providing adequate information. These 2 to 1 dollars help gubernatorial candidates better fund their print, television, radio and social media campaigns for themselves and all the down ballot candidates that rely on them. 

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Local Impacts

Locally, Rizzo has welcomed Holmdel Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso  to his ticket as well as her long time campaign partner, Hazlet's Tom Scarano. 

DiMaso is running against Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger and Holmdel Board of Education President Vicky Flynn. Scarano is up against Monmouth County Commissioner and Deputy Director Sue Kiley. Scarano, of Hazlet, used to live in Holmdel, working for DiMaso. He served on the school board in Woodbridge years ago according to Patch.

The cobbled together ticket is called 'Monmouth County Conservative Republicans'. With ballots printed and ready for delivery, the  anti-Catholic video,  property tax controversy  and a choking off of public funds has made their teams path especially hard. 

The Republican standard-bearer Ciattarelli slammed Rizzo for his religiously insensitive comments. “Any candidate for any office who disparages and demeans Catholics’ faith or anyone else’s faith needs to rethink their candidacy,” Ciattarelli said via a spokesperson. “We need leadership that brings us together, not divides us along the lines of race, creed, color or religion.”

A Rizzo campaign spokesperson didn't deny the comments but said that Ciattarelli was just playing politics.

“These are the attacks we expect from a professional politician like Jack Ciattarelli,” a statement said. “New Jerseyans want their lives back plain and simple. It’s been pretty clear from the growing momentum of Rizzo’s campaign over the past several weeks that New Jerseyans don’t want more of the status quo.”

'Not a Qualifed Candidate'

Specifically, this week, Rizzo was denied matching campaign funds from ELEC (Election Law Enforcement Commission) that would provide $2 for every $1 his campaign raised. He vowed to appeal on Wednesday. 

“Hundreds of people made their voices heard to get us to this point and we believe the facts merit a re-evaluation by ELEC,” said Rizzo in a statement. “We aren’t about to let down the people of New Jersey who are ready to get their lives back and want a change from the status quo.”

A long shot candidate, Rizzo is running off the line with two other gubernatorial candidates, Hirsh Singh and Brian Levine.

All three of them, Rizzo, Levine and Singh, are running to topple the presumptive nominee, Jack Ciatarelli.

Ciattarelli, an MBA with a background running businesses as a CPA, has been endorsed by virtually every county and local Republican organization in the state to run as the organization Republican candidate. Ciatarelli is also (as of now) the only republican to receive matching funds from ELEC. Ciattarelli served in the public sector as a local Council President, a County Commissioner and a State Assemblyman.

In a letter from Stephanie Olivo, Esq. Director of Compliance of ELEC, she writes that the Election Law Enforcement Commission received the required form P1 from Rizzo for New Jersey governor on April 6 at 8:13 PM. Except it was due the day before.

"After a review of the contributions and expenditures contained thereon, the Commission is directed me to inform you that (Rizzo) has not met the requirements to be a qualified candidate for participation in the gubernatorial public financing program."

In addition to filing late, the form needed to contain enough documentation to establish that the $490,000 contribution and expenditure thresholds were met by the April 5th deadline.

"Due to the lateness of the filing, the deficiencies that existed within the required documentation when filed, and the absence of documentation demonstrating sufficient expenditures in place of the time of the filing the Commission has determined that the candidate (Rizzo) has not sufficiently established compliance with the requirements to be considered a qualified candidate."

Off the Line candidates Levine, Singh, Rizzo, DiMaso and Scarano will square off against Republican Party Endorsed 'On the Line' candidates Ciattarelli, O'Scanlon, Scharfenberger, Flynn and Kiley on June 8th.