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“The Toughest Campaign Laws In The State”

In the last election we heard boasting that under the governing Democrats Belmar implemented the “toughest campaign laws in the state”.  Well it is now entirely possible that every candidate for office in Belmar last fall, all seven of us, whether wittingly or not, are in violation of some provision or another of those laws. 

The latest revelation comes from an article in Thursday’s Coast Star.  It seems that Belmar resident David Kinsel contributed small amounts to Richard Wright’s 2008 council race and to the Republican ticket’s 2010 campaign.  Mr Kinsel is owner, or part owner, of a club called Headliners.  The club is in Neptune, but it is located close enough to Belmar to fall under the jurisdiction of Belmar’s laws concerning political donations by alcoholic beverage license holders.  Unlike the Barclay’s in-kind contribution(s) to the Democrats, which was the free use of the establishment itself, the Kinsel donations were personal contributions so it’s not clear  any of the Republicans even knew who Mr. Kinsel was or of his ties to Headliners.  If Councilman Wright knew, or somehow should have known, then his past votes on taxi licenses, parking permits, etc would be in violation of Belmar’s ordinances.  We’ll know more about it after next week’s council meeting. 

I do want to make clear that, in my opinion, operating a bar or liquor store is a perfectly honorable profession and should not negate one’s right to free speech, in this case in the form of making campaign donations. 

So it is now possible that the only un-conflicted member of our governing body is Councilwoman Jennifer Nicolay.  This is because she was appointed to fill the council seat vacated by Matt Doherty when he took office as mayor and so has not participated in the apparently criminal act of running for office here.  This is where “the toughest campaign laws in the state” have gotten us. 

(My own sin, by the way, was to not report to Belmar my contributions to my own campaign.  Since I accepted no outside campaign contributions I didn’t think that the disclosure ordinance applied, but I guess technically it does, so if someone wanted to be really mean they could make a complaint and force me to pay the $250 fine.  Actually it may be too late to file a compaint now anyway.) 

My point, stated for the umpteenth time, is that the answer is not to hand politicians more and more power over our lives and livelihoods and then write more and more laws to make it seem that they won’t abuse that power.  Politicians that want to sell their power can always find a way.  (A plain paper envelope stuffed with cash works fine.)  My long term solution to our current dilemma is to strictly limit the power of our elected officials (who seem to think it’s their job to micro-manage every form of human activity in our town) and to de-criminalize running for office.  Scrap every one of Belmar’s campaign laws, including the incumbency-protecting campaign contribution disclosure provision that the Democrats are so fond of.  I also think we should look into switching to non-partisan elections to keep the parties and their special interest benefactors, like the unions, out of our politics.

 And for the short term?  I see no choice other than to name Jennifer Nicolay dictator of Belmar!

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