Ka-ching! Lesniak Smells Money In School Election

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ELIZABETH — Cristina Pinzon, an aide on the payroll of Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, Asm. Joseph Cryan and Asw. Annette Quijano, is treasurer for three school board candidates who have shown virtually no interest in education elections.

Two of the challengers — Charlene Bathelus and Jose Rodriguez — have rarely voted and one never voted in a school election.

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Nasi registered to vote in 2004 and has cast ballots in just three general elections and two primary contests. She never voted in a school election.

Bathelus registered to vote in 2003, but she has voted in only one of the last seven school board elections, as well as in three of each primary and general elections.

Jose Rodriguez, whose brother of Eduardo Rodriguez ran as a spoiler to stop Democrats for Change candidate Lester Dominguez from beating Councilman Bill Gallman in last year’s primary, also cast a ballot in only one school election despite being old enough to have voted in a dozen of them.

Pinzon went to work for Lesniak after she graduated from Montclair University.

While the three candidates have shown little interest in education or elections, Lesniak has used his political influence to win no-bid contracts with dozens of school districts and other public entities.

Reports on file with the Election Law Enforcement Commission show that Lesniak’s law firm cashed in on about $17 million worth of taxpayer-funded deals in recent years.

Lesniak himself has been paid about $2 million a year, according to a statement released by the FDIC, which is investigating the collapse of First BankAmericano.


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