Today’s edition of the Asbury Park Press contains an editorial slaming 11th District GOP Assmebly candidates Caroline Casagrande and Mary Pat Angelini for the over the top and deceitful campaign mailer sent to district residents attempting to smear their Democratic opponent Vin Gopal, by insinuating that he is corrupt because he once worked as a campaign manager for former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas, as a 20year old college intern.
Vas and another campaign aid Raymond Geneske, were convicted and sent to jail for various campaign offenses which Gopal had nothing to do with.
The recent campaign flier approved by Republicans Caroline Casagrande and Mary Pat Angelini in the 11th District Assembly race seeking to smear Democrat Vin Gopal was beyond the pale — even by New Jersey standards.
It used reckless innuendo in attempting to portray Gopal as corrupt because he once was campaign manager for disgraced former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas.
Although the ad was produced by the Republican State Committee, Casagrande and Angelini both signed off on it. And, on Friday, both said they stood by it. That’s almost as disturbing as the mailer itself, which tried through deliberate misdirection to suggest that Gopal was mixed up in a campaign money laundering and fraud scheme.
Gopal was campaign manager for Vas in 2006 as a 20-year-old political science major at Penn State University, for which he received course credit and a modest salary. His chief job was organizing volunteers and answering phones. He had nothing to do with any illegal money.
On one side of the mailer, which showed dollar bills swirling in a clothes drier, it read, “To you, this might look like someone illegally laundering money. To Vin Gopal, it looks like pay day.”
On the flip side, it said, “Corrupt Political Bosses. Money Laundering. Fraud. It’s just another day at the office for Vin Gopal.”
Further down, it had an April 2011 newspaper headline proclaiming, “Aide to former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas pleads guilty to money laundering.” The text of the story, which was covered with another headline, would have identified the aide as Raymond Geneske. The mailing implied it was Gopal.
“We didn’t say he went to jail. He was the campaign manager of a corrupt campaign,” said Tom Fitzsimmons, District 11 GOP campaign spokesman. “Everything in the mailer is 100 percent true.”
Maybe so. But it was a clear attempt to portray him as corrupt.
While the Gopal campaign has sent out some hard-ball negative mailings of its own, none of them have been in the same league as what the state Republican committee created and the candidates approved.
The mailer lacked a complete sense of decency and fair play, further contributing to voters’ cynicism and disgust with politicians who will do anything to win election.
The Republicans do not seem to care. Voters should when it comes to weighing their options for the Assembly seats at the polls on Tuesday.