NEWARK - On May 6, Newark Mayoral candidate Ras Baraka dropped a bombshell on what he discovered about the campaign of his opponent, Shavar Jeffries.
Baraka stressed what he believes is outside financing and influences trying to move the election to Jeffries' favor - namely Newark First and Education Reform Now - and the Jeffries campaign.
"Newark First was set up from Day One as an operative for the Jeffries campaign," said Baraka while holding a financial spreadsheet chart before a press corps of 50 at 621 Central Ave. "Education Reform Now is supposedly a separate advocacy group.
"Both IEs, however, have spent more on campaign materials and ad spots than Jeffries' campaign," said Baraka. "The law says that there should be no link between IEs and political campaigns.
"Education Reform Now is an organization out of New York City, and that on the board of trustees are a few hedge fund guys. But we have no idea who's putting money in the Education Reform Now organization. Anybody could be putting money in there. George Norcross could be putting money in there, from Rupert Murdoch to the Walton Family Foundation. We'd like the Jeffries campaign to reveal who's putting money into this group, and who's giving the money into Newark First, a group set up solely for the purpose of disrupting what's going on the city of Newark, to attacking my character and to slander my name.
"Shavar Jeffries has raised more money than anyone in this race. We're not upset about that. We're upset that we don't know where the money's coming from. He's only spent $80,000 on media and TV, but they've spent over a million dollars though the IE on media and TV. It seems to me that if you're running for mayor, you would spend more than that if you've raised almost $1.4 million unless you knew that an IE was spending money on your behalf, which means there's a relationship between the IE and Jeffries' campaign, which is completely illegal based on what IE laws have established that they can actually do in this city."
Baraka was ending his 20-minute press conference that early lunch however when five men began distracting the assembled press corps from the corner of Central Avenue and South 2nd Avenue. The men was purportedly showing a video on their iPods or SmartPhones on Baraka and denying their opponent's just-made claims.
The counter-press conference lasted about eight minutes until they walked in retreat across Second Avenue and into a nondescript minivan. They were a minute into their case when Baraka supporters began chanting, "Believe in Newark," to drown them out.
"It may be that the chairman of Newark First may not be fully aware of the connections between it and Jeffries for Mayor," Oliver told a reporter just before her 11 a.m. May 7 endorsement of Baraka at downtown's Essex Sports Club restaurant.
Baraka also took time at the Dominican Coalition PAC breakfast to refute claims that he is "racist."
"People are forgetting their history," said Baraka before some 50 diners in the Spanish Manor. 9 a.m. May 7. "My father, (the late) Amiri Baraka, was a member of the Black and Latino Coalition of 1970. That coalition got Ken Gibson elected mayor.
"Dad told me to go to help people up (in the North Ward) like Hector Corchado and Henry Martinez and a young Anibal Ramos, Jr. for council and school board candidacies," continued Baraka. "He told me to help them because it's the right thing to do. Dad, with all this negativity, would be tearing this place up if he was here."
Both candidates are to also face each other in a final candidates' night, hosted and aired by Cablevision-Newark, past this issue's press time.
May 13 polls are to be open for elections here, Orange, Irvington and Belleville 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. See www.essex-clerk.com for details.