Editor’s Note: On a Document That Disappeared, Then Reappeared

By • Apr 21st, 2010 • Category: Blog
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Pardon the interruption here, folks. In the interest of transparency and reader accountability, we want to make you aware of a major editorial decision that has unfolded over the past few days.

On Friday afternoon, we published our usual detailed Council Report; it included Shane Smith’s reportage on a heated exchange between former mayor Gerald McCann and Ward E councilman Steven Fulop that happened during the meeting.

McCann brandished a 2008 police report that included an allegation that the Fulop campaign, during the 2005 council race against Junior Maldonado, had paid several people money to vote multiple times at different polling places.

Here’s how we played it:

Providing an undercard to the main event of the police and fire contracts dustup, former mayor McCann and councilman Fulop locked horns during the public hearing portion of the meeting when McCann resuscitated an accusation of voter fraud he has previously made against Fulop.

McCann distributed to the council copies of a police report dated April 2008, in which city resident William Cortez stated that he and others were paid a total of $1,000 by someone from Fulop’s campaign to vote in several locations under several names in the 2005 election. Charges relating to the alleged fraud were never brought against Fulop or any other individual.

We went on to quote Fulop saying the report was “fraudulent,” and saying “there is not a shred of truth to this.”

We also linked to the police report, which we had obtained Friday morning, via fax, from the City Clerk’s office.

And that’s where things went a bit off the rails.

Not too long after the story went live, as Shane and I were out on Long Island picking up the Spring/Summer issue of NEW magazine, we found out that Fulop was not too pleased that we had linked to the report. After several hours of back and forth with the councilman and his council aide, in which they repeatedly insisted we had obtained the incendiary document illegally, we were eventually threatened with legal action: Fulop said he’d file suit against us on Monday.

By this point, it was getting towards the end of the business day, we were on the road, and we weren’t thrilled with the idea of jumping right into a legal battle that could potentially bankrupt us. We eventually decided that rather than continue our showdown with Fulop, we would — for the moment — pull the document off the story, and off our servers. In the meantime, we would continue to discuss the situation internally, as well with with our own attorney.

The result? We have decided to re-post the document and once again enable the link within the story.

We believe that we were well within our legal rights to publish and link to the document, and we know we obtained it in a legal fashion. The latter point, however, is moot — American courts have consistently ruled that news organizations have the right to publish government documents, regardless of how they are obtained, and regardless of whether or not they are designated “public records.”

We also believe that we gave the police report adequate context, did not sensationalize it, clearly explained to our readers that nothing had come of it, and in no way presented the testimony contained in the document as fact. Any “average Jane” reading our story would be hard pressed, in our minds, to believe that Fulop was guilty of the allegations.

“Linking to or posting the report is a good idea, as long as you [give] your audience enough context to judge the material for themselves,” Poynter Institute journalism ethics expert Kelly McBride told us after we sought out her advice as well. We believe we did exactly that.

Lastly, not wanting to blindside the councilman, we also gave him the opportunity to state his case and respond. Here is his statement:

Last Friday, JCI ran an item that described an exchange between former mayor and convicted felon Gerald McCann and me. Mr. McCann, a political opponent, appeared at the council meeting to circulate a fraudulent investigative report filed in 2008 that was quickly proven to be untrue. This is the type of baseless political stunt that Mr. McCann is well-known for and a great example of Jersey City gutter politics.

My initial consideration of a lawsuit stemmed from my belief that reputation and integrity are everything and must be defended at all costs. Publishing a link to a fabricated allegation as if it is factual smears one’s character and does nothing to advance the story; it only serves to sensationalize. To be clear: I do not take issue with the story that was published, only the link to a document with baseless claims. Though I disagree with JCI‘s actions in this case, I do appreciate and respect the work of the Jersey City Independent.



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is the co-founder of the Jersey City Independent; he now works for a public-policy nonprofit in Trenton.
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  • casual observer

    Disappointed in Fulop. FIrst, he stoops to McCann’s level with his “handcuffs” remark, then he threatens to sue the media for doing its job. Kind of bush league.

  • Tim

    That is a seriously douche-bag move by Fulop.

  • Blame the Arts

    This is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • Blame the Arts (friend)

    LEAVE THIS UP! This is a lesson for the Councilman that he is what he hangs with. You better waise up and dump Bertoli and Torres, Steve before they destroy you.

    READ THE PD report, Steve http://www.jerseycityindependent.com/files/fulopmccann.pdf
    are they associations something your family would be proud of?

  • Stepan

    Good job JCI. Stand strong. Shameful of the councilman to try to push you around like that.

  • Stephen

    I was there at the meeting and McCann was a complete ass. So glad that the voters showed that guy the door on Tuesday.

    I can understand Fulop’s immense frustration, especially in advance of the election, HOWEVER, I feel he over-reacted. I’ve at been concerned, at times, with the way Steve plays his hand. But then I remind myself that he’s swimming with the sharks.

    If anything, this reminds me to keep a healthy skepticism about him as I should of any other government official.

    Kudos to the JCI for being willing to get this right and checking their conduct.

  • Rob

    Chin up, you JCI guys. You did the right thing, no matter what any of the hacks and lemmings on other JC-oriented websites say.

  • Mike

    A friend of mine who is good in numbers commented that Fulop’s ambition to become Mayor is OVER as of now; he is Ward – E’s councilman forever !!! With all the money he spent along with his full endorsement in terms of material support and his organization support, all that he could get is only around 2500 votes in the school board elections; JCEA Union got around 3500 votes, rest is Dan Levin and smaller groups like downtown mom’s etc., People started realizing that he has n’t done anything to save a penny for the tax payers, other than passing failed resolutions that are ethically and morally correct; he is not a seasoned politician who can strike a balance and work with other council persons to get things done in an optimal way to benefit the tax payers; he has a very long way to go particularly when he stands against Brennan or Charles Mainor in Mayoral elections !!! Sad…

  • casual observer

    “good in numbers”? Using or running? It’s 3 years to the election and fulop has proven himself a capable fundraiser. don’t forget that disposable income downtown is likely higher than elsewhere in the city. mayor brennan? never happen. mainor – will he give up the assembly? right now, it’s fulop’s to lose. of course, stunts like threatening to sue legitimate news outlets are just the thing that help lose elections. but go ahead, mike, post your theory on jclist and get crucified.

  • Blame the Arts

    casual observer writes “post your theory on jclist and get crucified.” Really?
    Possibly you meant to say “post your theory on jclist and get crucified by the 4 people who have with 10 screen names”

    Maybe our councilman is not as clean as he likes people to think. His threat of legal action against The Independent should be a wake up call to his acolytes. This should be or could be the beginning of the Teflon coming off.

  • casual observer

    bta: i’m sure that the unabashed hero worship of fulop on jclist must even embarrass him from time to time, and while cleanliness in jersey city is, alas, relative, i can’t buy into any theories of fulop election shenanigans. his first election (forget the primary against menendez, that was a cunningham debacle) was maldonado’s to lose. and lose he did by running a lackluster non-campaign against an opponent who worked for it. this time around, c’mon, guy catrillo? dwek aside, guy never had a chance. and that was probably by design. with 8 other seats virtually guaranteed, why spend a ton of money for the 9th unneeded. all i’m saying is, the hcdo underestimates fulop at its own peril. of course, it wouldn’t be the first time they did something really stupid.

  • Rob

    If only the Fulop-worshippers on JCList realized that they do their hero more harm than good when they knee-jerkedly jump on the hyper-defensive like in this weekend’s debacle. That thread is a train wreck of epic double-standard proportions.

    I also don’t think Fulop is guilty of the allegations McCann rehashed at the council meeting. But his reaction shows he’s not as savvy a politician as I had given him credit for – because he essentially took McCann’s bait by flying off the handle at the JCI.

    As for the ‘disposable income’ disparity between the downtown anointed and the plebs outside the perimeter of the turnpike extension – even accepting it as ‘true’, would that there was some more-than-negligible correlation between that and actual financial participation in the local electoral process.

  • casual observer

    The last JC mayor/council results have all the data needed on downtowners’ participation in local elections. Fulop trounced everyone. As I recall, he got more votes than the Mayor. The question is whether he can build a citywide organization and turn out those numbers in 2013. The demographics may still be against him, but Healy and Co seem determined to give him every advantage they can.

  • Rob

    And there’s the ever-informed fat-ass-bike (on the JCList trainwreck thread) crawling out of the woodwork again to take bullets for Fulop. By calling for the JCI to be taken off the “news stands”. Gotta love an informed (and rational) electorate. Apparently the HCDO doesn’t have a monopoly on uninformed voters.

  • It’s must be true because he said so

    It’s a police report of a man picked up on credit card fraud who then goes on to say that he was involved in “some kind of voter fraud”. Because one states such as true does not make it true and considering the credibility of the person making such claim, you gotta be kidding me. Maybe if you interviewed him or Luis Cortez or “Tom” or the JCPD, first, before posting the police report online, it just might make for a credible story. Otherwise it’s smack of truly amateur, yellow journalism. You have severely breached your journalistic responsibility.

  • http://www.jerseycityindependent.com Jon Whiten

    @It’s must be:

    We never reported the allegations were true; in fact, we repeatedly have stated that nothing has come of the allegations, and have clearly given the councilman the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the testimony in the police report. We were presenting original documentation within the clear context of a silly political fight.

    Had we run a standalone story, headlined “Fulop Paid Cash for Votes, Report Says” (or something along those lines), and done a news report on the allegations in the report, then you might have a valid point. But as it stands now, we believe we acted responsibly and ethically.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Alb

    From a purely legal point of view, my understanding is that libel law is NOT all that simple, even if you’re writing about a public figure.

    If you can prove what you’ve printed about someone is true, then you have a great defense.

    But, if you know you are printing allegations that are false, or probably false, then just giving the target of the allegations a chance to comment is not necessarily a defense against a libel suit. I think it’s really important for the JC Independent people to talk to an experienced libel lawyer about this, and not to assume that you’re safe just because you gave Fulop a chance to respond.

    Also:

    a) I used to be someone who liked Fulop a lot but wished he would try harder to work with other members of the City Council to get things done. Then a lot of the people I once wanted Fulop to dicker with got indicted. I think the moral is that Jersey City politics is so utterly corrupt, from top to bottom, that it’s dangerous to dicker with anyone.

    b) To the extent that message board commenters are giving Fulop sincere warnings about getting in bed with stray dogs, I hope Fulop reads those messages carefully and takes them seriously. I think it’s really easy for someone in Hudson County politics to take one wrong step and end up on the road to eternal damnation. But it seems as many of the comments about Fulop showing up here and on JC List these days have the same harsh, cynical, Hudson County machine tone. The seem to come from insiders who want everyone to be as dirty as they are, not from people who really want Fulop to stay clean.

  • Rob

    The report in question, regardless of how it got into McCann’s dirty little hands, unquestionably became a public document when he handed copies to the municipal council in a public, recorded City Council meeting. Any person could obtain a copy of the document by filing an OPRA request with the City Clerk’s office. JCI gave the report its proper context, and in NO WAY exposed themselves to liability for libel.

    Seeing the panicked deifiers try to smear the JCI here and elsewhere is surely entertaining in a car-wreck kind of way, but all it does is make rational, objective people (i.e. likely voters) stop and think “why is Fulop (and his flock) so desperate to have this seemingly bogus allegation covered up?” It looks like there’s something to hide, and you dig the hole deeper.

    I agree with the Councilman’s prepared statement: reputation and integrity *are* everything. Trying to bully a (the only?) legitimate, intelligent, underdog news outlet by threatening a lawsuit says a lot about both his reputation and integrity.

  • Rob

    Oh, and in the ever-entertaining double-standard files, what would the flock say if, for a hypothetical example, Shelley Skinner or Dan Levin handed the Council the exact same kind of police report, but instead the voter fraud allegations were against Bill Gaughan or Willie Flood or insert-entrenched-machine-politican’s-name-here, and the JCI *didn’t* obtain and include the report in their story? There would be hell to pay, and the JCI would get accused of a lack of journalistic integrity from the same people here lambasting them for just doing their job.

  • It’s must be true because he said so

    “We never reported the allegations were true…” but nonetheless you intently decided to put the police eh emmmm “report” on your website without doing any follow-up :::::reporting:::::::. …you know… as described in
    the rest of my original post.

    Here’s a primer on ‘Journalism ethics and standards”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism_ethics_and_standards

  • Rob

    I know it’s no fun to let facts get in the way of a good diatribe, but here’s *exactly* what Shane Smith wrote when he linked to the report:

    “Providing an undercard to the main event of the police and fire contracts dustup, former mayor McCann and councilman Fulop locked horns during the public hearing portion of the meeting when McCann resuscitated an accusation of voter fraud he has previously made against Fulop.

    McCann distributed to the council copies of a police report dated April 2008, in which city resident William Cortez stated that he and others were paid a total of $1,000 by someone from Fulop’s campaign to vote in several locations under several names in the 2005 election. Charges relating to the alleged fraud were never brought against Fulop or any other individual.”

    What exactly is so alarming about reporting the above? Is it factually inaccurate?

    It’s a police report, no matter how many times you snarkily put those two words in quotes. And it was made public, if not already public, by McCann’s distribution of the document to the Municipal Council members at a public meeting.

    Here’s a primer you might want to brush up on before the next fundraiser at a Mocco-owned restaurant:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_as_I_say_not_as_I_do

  • http://www.jerseycityindependent.com Jon Whiten

    @ It’s must be

    We linked to the police report — no need for air quotes there, the legitimacy of the document has not ever been in question, only the testimony contained within — because in our opinion, it gave the reader additional context with which to interpret the passage, and that’s that.

    So, I’m curious, do you think the Jersey Journal, for example, should do no crime-beat reporting at all anymore, since it is largely based on allegations being made either by one party or by the police?

  • Grammar Police

    Am I the only grammar nerd who is having fits over the utterly mangled phrase “It’s must be true because he said so” ….?

  • NorthBergen

    The fascinating aspect of this issue is that some people are having a difficult time imagining or believing that Fulop’s campaign is or could have been associated with voting irregularities or fraud.

    I bet that the same people would be writing a different narrative if the story were to change, and the name Fulop was transposed with the name of just about any other local politician associated with the HCDO. Imagine the immediate outrage and call for resignation and investigations if the name were changed to Healy/Stack or Cunnigham. These same posters would be having a field day condemning them because it’s become apparent Fulop can do no wrong in their eyes. That’s too bad for them but especially for him because his feet should be held to the same fire or scrutiny given to all other politicians.

    His initial response was not what one would expect from such a “pure” exponent of transparency when it comes to calling others out for their shortcomings. Fulop opened up something very telling and unflattering about himself. I will hope that he takes this as a wake up call to the reality of playing with the likes of Tom and Charlie. Charlie Torres may still be in jail on some fraud charges but Tommy Bertoli is alive and well in the Fulop camp. He can be seen in the JJ picture at his headquarters on election eve 2010.

    http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2010/04/jersey_city_school_board_honor.html

    While many already have his number there are still others who have placed their complete trust and faith in just another flawed politician even if his guilt is by association, he is the one who hired these people to run his campaign. Although it’s very difficult to prove it now the talk about the voter fraud by the Fulop campaign in a 2005 election has been around for a long time. The Independent has performed a terrific service to journalism and the residents of Jersey City in how they handled this story. Now, if they would only dig a little deeper? It’s not that hard… just use OPRA.

    You can support and defend the Fulop all you want. That’s your choice. Just know that this may just be a wake up call not to place 100% faith and trust in any one politician. This is not about how smart or how many good ideas he has or that he’s articulate. Sure, he has many redeeming qualities. I mean my 10 year old is more articulate than almost any council member. Like all politicians Fulop has the required ego necessary to pursue public office. Unfortunately, like many other politicians he has ultimately sold out and his obvious narcissism can be his ruin. Instead of threatening to sue he should have welcomed an open discussion and investigation of the contents of the police report… but he didn’t. That’s the reality.

  • Blame the Arts

    Here’s a bit of information for the unbelievers to ponder. The word was the voting fraud charges by the Fulop campaign were reported. The only reason the charges went nowhere is that the other word was that the HCDO was not really supporting Junior Maldonado. This allowed the “white van” to traverse Jersey City transporting individuals who went to the polls and voted fraudulently using the names of voters who did not have a recent record of voting in other elections. Look at the picture in the newspaper taken in Fulop’s headquarters after the recent school board election. If you know anything, you know the tall guy standing against the wall is the mastermind. Fulop has become his tool or could it be the other way around? What does that guy have on Fulop?

  • Mr. French

    I thought the point of the story was the McCann/Fulop dust-up. You certainly provided adequate coverage of that without linking to the report. I’m curious – genuinely so – where would you have drawn the line on what you would have linked to? If the allegation had been of a more personal nature, say sexual misconduct, but had just as quickly been proven false – would you have linked to that? Doesn’t matter to me who is named in the report; just wondering what your standards are.

    Also, you make it sound as though you’ve done Fulop a favor by “giving him the benefit of the doubt” by not asking him if he still beats his wife. That doubt is not yours to give – years ago, the police looked at this and dismissed it on its face. You were played by a master (McCann) and did exactly what he’d hoped you’d do. Fortunately the other media outlets in town aren’t so quick to let standards be damned to try to win over new readers.

  • casual observer

    While I’m disappointed in the way Fulop handled both McCann and his bogus report, I can’t find any fault with the way JCI handled it. In fact, one of the problems with our paper of record, the JJ, is that aside from Augie Torres leading his anti-Healy vendetta, and the bad writing, and the lack of proofreading, is that they never seem to ask the right questions, or follow up…or anything.

    Here’s what JCI published (for the what, tenth time now?):

    “Charges relating to the alleged fraud were never brought against Fulop or any other individual.”

    “Alleged” – “never”. End of story. If there were something to this, you don’t think the HCDO would have followed it and harped on it and nurtured it? Here it is 5 years later and I think for most folks, Gerry McCann’s bringing it out from under his rock is the first they’ve heard of it.

    Mr. French gives Gerry too much credit. If he really is the “master”, then why isn’t he president, or even still on, the Board of Ed? Why isn’t he running the JCIA instead of picking up garbage?

  • http://www.jerseycityindependent.com Shane Smith

    To all: Thanks for your comments. While we are absolutely confident that we are within our rights to discuss, obtain, and post the document on this site, we never expected everyone to agree. I’m here to tell you that I appreciate any constructive feedback.

    When I originally requested a copy of the document, my motivation was to understand the context of what was being discussed at the council meeting. I linked to the document because I felt a responsibility to afford our readers the same context. It’s for that reason that it is our policy to link to original documents whenever possible.

    Mr French, you are free to postulate any number of intentions on our part, but in this case you’re wrong. I’d be happy to share with you our traffic stats over the past few months, which show that the bulk of our new readership in that time has come from our coverage of the school board election, not a footnote buried in a lengthy council report. Even the profusion of comments on this piece are coming by and large from regular readers, as far as we’re able to tell.

    As for your question about standards: as I said above, it’s our policy to link to original documents whenever possible. If a given hypothetical situation was truly analogous, I fully believe our response would be analogous.

    As for being “played by a master”: let’s be frank here. McCann hands that document to anyone who wants it, and the council meeting was hardly the first time I had the opportunity to get it. I don’t think you read our coverage of the report and honestly thought that it was the result of McCann feeding us a story, nor does anyone else who’s paying a modicum of attention.

  • Rob

    Who decides what “adequate coverage” is, Mr. French? I think linking to a report that is now a part of the public record of our municipal council’s proceedings, and which was the subject of a note-worthy, fiery exchange from two high-profile political opponents, is well within the bounds of journalistic integrity, particularly given how the JCI very plainly presented the information. If anything, I think the link to the report, which gives the fuller context of the police interview as that of a person picked up on credit card fraud, only further vindicates Fulop and casts the allegation as one coming from an otherwise scurrilous character. And people can read it, in the context in which it was placed by the JCI when they linked it to the story, and draw their own conclusions.

    What is so terrifying about seeing the report itself, instead of just speaking generally about the report, that both Fulop himself and his camp of hangers-on are willing to keep digging themselves into a frenzied, defensive, paranoid hole? Again, if you think you’re helping clear your guy’s name, you’re just making him look more like a guy (and a cult) with something to hide, who’s willing to threaten litigation in order to sweep something under the rug.

    This dogmatic, pathological inability of his champions to accept that Fulop isn’t perfect, and sometimes makes mistakes, is doing him no favors.

    And once again, unsurprisingly, nobody who’s expressing their outrage at the JCI has answered how this would have played if the names of the players were switched.

  • Mike

    JCI is a great tool for this city. I bet this document will surface again (may be glued to poles) !!! Did Council person Mr. Clean, give any explanation to press few years back, when he heard/saw about this document first time ? Assume he did and JCI missed it, what is the point in threatening JCI to bankrupt?

  • Alb

    A) Just to be clear: I’m not meaning to criticize you; if I were you, I would have linked to the report, too. I’m just scarred by the class I had on “journalism and society.”

    b) What if it were Gaughan? – Steve Fulop and Dan Levin seem to communicate in a straightforward way. Fulop has started what sounds like a dumb fight with you, but he (or someone in his office) called you and thumped you openly. They didn’t get you dirty by having 5 sock puppets start a conversation on GetNJ.com about how you might be a pawn in Bret Schundler’s campaign to replace the HCDO with cannibal mushroom people.

    So, I could believe that Fulop or an aide has done something wrong at some point, and I think it’s great that you look into allegations, but I think Fulop has earned more credibility than the whisperers have, and he obviously has powerful enemies who have reasons to try to drag him down into mud. So, I hear accusations against him with different ears than if he were an HCDO hack.

  • C M D

    So what strikes me about the whole story is this: The cops pick up a suspect in a credit card fraud case. The guy sings like a canary, rats out the whole crew from Brooklyn to Secaucus. Now picture the scene.This small time petty crook is sitting there with the desk lamp glaring in his face sweating out the third degree from JC’s finest. The wheels are turning, “I gotta give em sumptin else” he sez to himself, “I gotta keep talkin”. So what does he come up with off the top of his sweaty bald head? Does he throw a couple of bumbling local dope dealers, car thieves or stickup men under the bus? No, he concocts an elaborate tale of political intrigue and voter fraud complete with several names, dates, locations, dollar amounts and even a white van. And he fabricated this whole plot on the fly, out of thin air while some beefy, steroid crazed flatfoot is firing off questions and accusations and making ominous gestures with a rubber hose! Man, that’s what I call cool under fire.

  • Alb

    I was re-reading the comments here and noticed that Blame the Arts is accusing someone of having a white van go around and cast fraudulent votes when Fulop campaigned against Maldonado.

    Um, what police report, city council transcript or privileged document supports THAT allegation? Someone who worked for Maldonado’s campaign has been posting regularly on local message boards for years, and has been highly critical of Fulop, and has never posted any allegations like that. I’ve personally asked a few fairly well-positioned people who don’t like Fulop, “Why don’t you like Fulop?” and they’ve never said anything about rumors about white vans.

    A lot of people who hate Fulop have recently been indicted, and it seems as if they would have a huge personal incentive to give the Feds any dirt they had on Fulop, but I don’t see anyone indicting him or his colleagues on voter fraud allegations.

    So, anyhow, I think that it’s important for the Jersey City Independent to keep a post like that online, to serve as an example of the kind of anonymous smear campaigns that the local machine hacks organize. But that does seem to be a pretty questionable comment, even by local “let it all hang out” message board standards.

  • Rob

    Dear Alb:

    You might have noticed that this story, which has generated now 34 comments, is about a 2008 police report wherein a person arrested on credit card fraud also admits to being involved in a voter fraud operation when Steve Fulop ran against Junior Maldonado. With me so far?

    You’ve now commented to this story, at length, three times. It’s pretty clear, though, that you haven’t actually *read* the report in question, because the report specifically makes reference to a white van.

    Here’s the link: http://www.jerseycityindependent.com/files/fulopmccann.pdf

    Happy reading.

  • It must be true because he said so

    So you are putting a copy of a police report up on your website that contains allegations from an alleged perpetrator of credit card fraud, and presumably future convict, which in turn was brought to your attention by another convict, Gerry McCann. It’s no small wonder that no other media outlet picked up on the story in 2008 and now, 2 years later in 2010. For starters, where’s your follow-up interview with William Cortez, his alleged accomplices, the Police Department?

    Your actions are so bush league.

  • Alb

    Rob –

    OK, sorry, overlooked the white van part in the police report.

    But, anyhow, now that I’ve read the police report more carefully: the police report names an individual who supposedly received a $1,000 check, cashed the check in his wife’s bank account and distributed the cash to Cortez and the other guys in the van.

    Did the police follow up on the allegation about the check, and, if so, what did the check look like? Who signed the check? Did the check actually come from a bank account controlled by anyone affiliated with Fulop, and why would Fulop or someone affiliated with him pay for voter fraud using a check?

    To me, just the suggestion that someone in Jersey City who has ever watched a movie or a police show would have paid for voter fraud with a check casts doubt on the story. I think the check detail means that the story is completely fake, or that someone intentionally planted the story to cause problems for Fulop in the future.

  • http://www.jerseycityindependent.com Jon Whiten

    @It must be:

    We provided the police report for additional *context* for our readers, not as a *definitive account* of what did or didn’t happen. That was not what the story purported to do, ever, and that was made as clear as daylight from the get-go.

    We believe that the more information we give our readers, the better they can understand a situation; in this case it seems to be working.

    Based on their readings of it, many of them (as you can see in a number of comments above) have come to their own conclusions about the veracity of the claims. Many apparently find the claims to be false.

    Do you think that would have been the case if we’d played it in the typical “He says, She says” fashion? Perhaps, since there seems to be a generalized mistrust of McCann. But the question would have hung out in the air — what is this report that McCann was waving around? What did it say? Did it seem reasonable?

    Bottom line: by allowing our readers to see the report, while telling them plainly that *nothing came of the allegations and no charges were ever filed*, we think we did them a service. And that’s what we’re here for.

  • Rob

    What’s bush league here is the insecurity and myopia of an ambitious politician and his operatives. Some day, when they need to make the case to the unpersuaded as to why Steve lives up to the hype, this whispering campaign to undermine the credibility of the JCI will come back to haunt them.

  • NorthBergen

    It’s unfortunate that some posters continue to give truth to the points made by others that the possibility exists where the Fulop campaign might have engaged in voter fraud. I have to go back to read some of their posts on local websites when the whole ugly episode of arrests took place in July.

    If my memory serves me right, some of the posters expressing dismay that a politician they support could be involved in unsavory activities were all over those who got snagged playing judge and jury on these message boards. I think Fulop led or spoke at a rally in front of city hall calling for resignations and having a grand ole time of it at other’s expense. Fast forward to the council meeting where McCann threw him sucker punch with what Fulop claims is a bogus police report and he crumbles under the weight that it was made public.

    What becomes more apparent as this story gets more legs is that McCann is the wrong messenger for just about anything connected to politics in this town. That’s understandable. The issue, however, shouldn’t be McCann or the dust up at the meeting but the contents of the police report and Fulop’s unusual response. His immediate remedy was to threaten a law suit for libel which is generally very hard stuff to prove. This is very different than his usual posturing of explaining point by point the problem with other’s policies and ethics. He could have just as well written a statement explaining the contents of the report are bogus, that no one associated with or hired by his campaign was ever or would ever engage in voter fraud, that he didn’t know or ever met Mr. Cortez, that Mr. Cortez was not employed by his campaign, etc. That’s the general route most elected officials take in these circumstances. It’s hard to understand why he got so frazzled over a police report containing “bogus” accusations against his campaign made public by a disgraced and defeated former mayor and member of BOE?

    I would agree Councilman Fulop had every right to contemplate suing JCI. Has he? Should he? Will he? Maybe he should. I would like to see him cross examined along with his campaign strategists and anyone else who might be found or turn up to provide testimony. Perhaps, JCI should continue its own internal investigation of the charges or any other issue of interest to the public. They can begin by following the first rule in these types of cases: Follow the money. Do your homework. JC cannot afford what it now has and should not have to suffer with what might be. This is the most important story you may ever stumble on. Good luck!

  • meh

    McCann has dirt on most HudCo politicians & operatives.