GoPAC, a Washington, D.C. based Republican Super PAC that funneled money to Kathe Donovan’s 2010 campaign for Bergen County Executive, has hired Bill Stepien – a key member of the Chris Christie staff who orchestrated Bridgegate last year. Stepien came under fire after he called Fort Lee Mayor Marc Sokolich an "idiot" during last year's lane closures.
The report of Stepien’s hire comes just a week after Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Zur requested that acting state Attorney General John Hoffman investigate whether GOPAC broke state law by funneling money to Kathe Donovan’s 2010 campaign.
That year, Fair Lawn Council members Ed Trawinski and Jeanne Baratta received $7,200 from GoPAC. The very next day Trawinski and Baratta contributed that same amount -- $7,200 -- to the Republican State Committee, which then spent $90,000 on Donovan’s campaign.
Last month, it was reported that a Minnesota based political firm Stepien is associated with had received two contracts from Kathe Donovan’s campaign.
“Kathe Donovan and the Bergen County Republican Organization’s ties to Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore and GoPAC should alarm Bergen County voters. The dirty money funneled through GoPAC has no place in Bergen County elections and we hope they will pledge to not accept another penny and return the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have accepted over the last 3 ½ years,” said Michael Pagan, Campaign Manager for the Bergen County Democrats.
Gilmore, who serves as GoPAC’s New Jersey Chairman, previously served on Kathe Donovan’s transition team and received legal work from the County Executive.
Donovan’s response to the lane closures opened her up to criticism last year when the Freeholder Board questioned her silence. Many speculated that her close ties to the Port Authority and Attorney David Samson played a role.
“Why did Kathe Donavan remain silent for 127 days after the closing of the George Washington Bridge access lanes? She was either asleep at the wheel or part of the cover-up. Considering her close relationship with so many of the players, I’d be surprised if she truly was unaware,” said Pagan.