A non-profit group led by the head of the state’s building trades union is trying to get Democrats in the 8th legislative district to always vote by mail. Latham Tiver, a top official of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, is running for State Senate as a Republican.
Bill Mullen is the head of both the New Jersey Building & Construction Trades Council and Prosperity First, according to filings with the IRS about the 501(c)4 organization.
The group is sending out applications for vote-by-mail ballots that were made on a computer and include the names and addresses of registered Democrats who have asked to get VBM ballots in all future races. On the applications, Mullin is named as the person who helps.
The move shows that Mullen and the building trades group are spending money to help Evesham councilwoman Heather Cooper, a Democrat who is running against Tiver for the Senate, get elected. Cooper is a Democrat.
The New Jersey Globe got voter registration records that show hundreds of Democrats in the Burlington County part of the 8th have sent back applications made by Mullen’s non-profit.
All of the hundreds of returned applications in the 8th that named Mullen as their assistant came from Democrats who were already registered.
Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said, “Locking in hundreds of votes by making VBM applications quick and easy is a smart strategy in an election year when voter turnout is expected to be the lowest of any in our cycle.” “They seem to be going after Democrats who are already likely to vote and making them even more likely to vote in the future by making it easier for them to vote.”
The New Jersey Globe has learned that Prosperity First also sent similar mail to Democrats all over South Jersey. On the group’s website, you can use a tool to fill out a permanent VBM application for seven South Jersey towns.
The other two directors of the non-profit have close ties to South Jersey Democrats as well. Former Cherry Hill Mayor Susan Bass Levin is the CEO of Cooper University Health Systems’ non-profit foundation, and David Krone used to be the chief of staff for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The NJBCTC location in Clark is used on the tax return for Prosperity First.
Donors to Prosperity First don’t have to say who they are, so it’s not clear if Mullen is using money from Local 825 to pay for a program that could hurt Tiver’s campaign. On Monday afternoon, Mullen did not answer his cell phone or a text message.
On its tax report for 2020, Prosperity First says it made almost $2.1 million. A report from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission says that the General Growth Committee, which had ties to South Jersey Democrats, gave about $750,000 to Prosperity First in 2019 before it went out of business.
The Michaels Organization, a construction business with ties to Democrats in South Jersey, gave $159,000 to Prosperity First in 2021, the ELEC found. In 2021, Prosperity First said that it spent its own money to the tune of $150,000.
James Filippello, a former police lieutenant, told the New Jersey Globe that he got a letter from Prosperity First last month that was meant for his mother, Marie, who died in May 2021 at the age of 93.
Marie Filippello was the tax collector for Elk Township, and her late husband, Democrat John Filippello, was a freeholder for nine years in Gloucester County in the 1950s and 1960s. She is no longer on the state’s list of people who can vote.
Tiver is a third-generation member of the building trades. He used to be a Burlington County freeholder.
Two years ago, he ran for State Assembly in the 8th district, but then-Senate President Steve Sweeney used his ties in the building trades to get him to change his mind.
Now that incumbent Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton), who was running for a second term in the Senate for the 8th district, has chosen not to run again, Tiver has a good chance of getting the seat.
Adding more forever VBM voters in South Jersey could hurt the chances of Matthew Walker, the former president of the Buena Township Council, if he gets the Republican nomination for the 4th district State Assembly seat. Walker is on the IUOE Local 825’s board of directors.