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Jacksonian Excuses

Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson, explaining how he thinks his non-profit organization, “Moving Trenton Together,”  filed annual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, despite all currently available evidence to the contrary:

“I’m almost sure we did because I remember the name of the form.”

I’m sure you agree that this statement is very flexible, and may be used in a number of circumstances. Please feel free to use it yourselves!!

For instance:

“I’m almost sure I did my homework because I remember the name of the textbook.”

“I’m almost sure I paid the mortgage because I remember the name of the bank.”

“I’m almost sure I remembered my anniversary because I remember the name of my wife.”

“I’m almost sure I parked my car here because I remember the make and model of the car.”

“I’m almost sure I got dressed today because I remember the color of my suit.”

“I’m almost sure my city paid its payroll taxes because I remember the name of the IRS.”

Hmmm, perhaps you may not want to actually use that last excuse. Unless you are absolutely, positively certain you paid your payroll taxes, don’t mess with the IRS. Just don’t!

Listen, this won’t be too terribly long a piece. Basically, because there’s really not much that’s new in this latest news about Eric Jackson.We know he is careless about basic  management and proper fiduciary responsibility of the funds of others, whether they are contributions to his political campaigns, contributions to his personal non-profit foundation, or the taxes of ordinary Trentonians and New Jerseyans and Americans which pay for the government of the City of Trenton. There’s nothing new here that we haven’t known for years.

We know that the Trenton Water Works, part of the Public Works Department run by Eric Jackson under former mayor Doug Palmer, was a hotbed of corruption in at least some of the years prior to 2010.Timecards were abused to pad overtime. Direct cash payments were made to City employees to do under-the-table, off-the-books work while on the City’s clock. City equipment was brazenly stolen during a period there were minimal controls on city property. A Grand Jury investigated. Employees were indicted and convicted. Mr. Jackson testified in open court about problems during his tenure. And one of those employees convicted for corruption, himself brother to a disgraced former mayor convicted and still serving Federal time corruption, dismissed Mr. Jackson as ineffective and directed by others: “And so him being a decent person, he’s a pretty decent person but his hand was tied. He really just did what (then-Mayor) Doug Palmer and them told him to do.” When you’ve been dissed as ineffective by “Muscles” Davis, you’ve been dissed by the best!

We know that Mr. Jackson was pretty casual about filing legally-required campaign financial reports for his unsuccessful 2010 mayoral campaign. He didn’t file those reports until 2014, nearly four years late, and only after being publicly and repeatedly scolded, in the local press, by opposing candidates in the 2014 election, and in this space. His excuse in 2014 for ignoring the law for four years, until he decided to run again? “My mind was other places losing. You’re despondent.”

“You’re despondent?” For four years?

We know Mr. Jackson’s 2014 campaign itself had several problems. The campaign was sloppy in its accounting and reporting during the election. During and extending well after the election, there were several questions about questionable donations to his campaign, leading to some – but not all – of them being refunded. And, as David Foster reminds us in his report for The Trentonian today, “But even after winning the 2014 mayoral race, Jackson has not submitted mandatory campaign finance reports for eight quarters, according to information on the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission website. His last quarterly filing was submitted on Oct. 15, 2014, showing a closing balance of $5,208.” This space has also frequently criticized Mr. Jackson for his neglect of state campaign finance law in both of his campaigns.

We know the same whimsical approach to finances that he displayed as a candidate he has repeatedly shown as mayor.

One example: in an audit of 2015 expenses the City was “cited for over-expenditures tallying nearly $105,000, failing to maintain proper payroll records, and hiring consultants and professions without the required state approval. In an attempt to avoid lengthy repetition of charges we are only too familiar with, let me simply summarize some others of Eric Jackson’s Greatest Hits from an earlier post of mine:

  • A bad Information Technology deal.
  • A bungled pair of contracts for the City’s public swimming pools.
  • Being designated by the US Justice Department as a “high-risk grantee of Federal funds.”
  • Getting swindled out of $5 Million Dollars of tax deposit funds over several months, despite many written warnings and red flags

So today we read, “since the 501(c)(3) nonprofit formed in 2014, Jackson has not filed a tax return for Moving Trenton Together, raising concerns about where the money is coming from to organize the free events and bring in the big-name talent.”

And we are Just. Not. Suprised. One. Little. Bit.

For his campaign style, as well as his management style as Mayor since 2014, I called Eric Jackson “Mr. Hands Off” in May. Seven months later, we can easily add “Mr. Careless” and/or “Mr. Deadbeat” to those nicknames.

Oh. One last thing to note about the newspaper article this morning about “Moving Trenton Together.”Mr. Jackson may in fact “remember the name of the form,” IRS Form 990 which is is the main document needed to file a tax return with the IRS.

But Eric Jackson is mistaken – big surprise, right? – when he says “It’s not an annual” form. According to the IRS website, “In general, exempt organizations are required to file annual returns.” [Emphasis mine - KM]

So, Mr. Jackson, once again, Oops!

Are you really sure you’re cut out for this line of work? I’m not. Even more than ever.

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