Ocean County GOP candidates took $134k in campaign contributions from controversial Dominion Voting Systems reseller before $2.75m purchase

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STOCK PHOTO: A business owner gives politician campaign donation in return for public contracts.

TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ahead of the 2021 election for Governor, the five-member all-Republican Board of County Commissioners voted to purchase and upgrade their existing voting machines to Dominion systems machines, but not after receiving over $125,000 in political campaign contributions from the company who supplied those machines.

The board of commissioners was advised by experts not to purchase the machines this past summer, but after receiving large campaign donations from Election Graphics, Inc., they unanimously approved the purchase.

“The ballot printing and voting tech firm, Election Graphics, Inc., has bankrolled the ruling Ocean County Republican party for years: State records show that the firm and its executives have given more than $155,000 in the past 20 years to Ocean Republicans who hold county offices. The five sitting members of the county commission together received almost $100,000 from Election Graphics and some from its executives,” NJ Spotlight reported at the time.

Behind the scenes deal, the deal was pushed by Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman, whose political bread has been buttered by owner Adam Perna since he took office in 2019.

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This year, Virginia Haines and Jack Kelly are running for re-election. The pair, along with Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, also up for re-election and Clerk Scott Colabelloreceived a combined $28,600 in campaign donations from the company. In total, Republicans in Ocean County at the county level have taken $134,200 in donations from the vendor before approving the massive expense to purchase more systems.

Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella received $7,800 from Perna and Election Graphics Inc., but denied it had anything to do with the large sums the company donated to his political campaigns.

“I don’t sit around with a chalkboard and keep track of who gives money to the party — I never have anything to do with fundraising,” Colabella said in the NJ Spotlight article.

In an ironic twist, it was Ocean County Board of Elections Democrat Wyatt Earp who objected to the Dominion purchase,

“We’ve been looking at these machines for years,” Earp said. “It was clear to all our people that the ES&S system would provide the safest, least disruptive voting experience, especially for senior citizens.”

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Ocean County Chairman Frank Holman denied that large donations made to his organization’s candidates factored into the $2.75 million decision to go with the vendor who routinely opens his checkbook to the party’s political candidates.

“In fact, all five commissioners who will be voting on this today, received a total of $96,800 in campaign contributions from a Dominion representative,” Seaside Park resident and professor of public policy, Phil Nufrio said. “This appears to be, frankly, a direct pay-to-play,” he said. “I think it’s a blatant conflict of interest. The corrupt process weakens the public faith in our integrity of our elections. The integrity of our elections are the cornerstone to our democracy. The voting machines we use in Ocean County should be based on the quality of machines, not based on politics and campaign contributions.”