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Is ‘Citizens for Responsible Development’ a vehicle for political dark money?

Candidates for all elected public offices in the State of New Jersey must file reports of their campaign financial activity. These reports are referred to as R-1 forms and can be found on the NJ ELEC site for any candidate (assuming they file their reports).

In the 2019 Galloway Township Council election, all three Republican candidates filed the required ELEC forms. In them, they disclosed their campaign contributions as well as naming those who contributed more than $300. One of their largest contributors included a combined $7,500 from an organization named Citizens for Responsible Development.

Who are ‘Citizens for Responsible Development’?

It is unclear as to who they fully are or where they get funding from, as they have neglected to file a single financial report related to campaign activities. One thing known for sure is that they were listed as contributors for many Atlantic County Republican candidates, most notably Dennis Levinson, Frank Formica, Tony Coppola, Rich Clute, and Tony DiPietro. In 2018 and 2019, Citizens for Responsible Development contributed over $30,000 almost exclusively to Republican candidates in Atlantic County. Where did they get all of this money? Without a financial disclosure, that answer is unclear.

One other fact regarding this organization is the ties it has to the Galloway Republican establishment is strong. One of the principal members of this group is Chris Coleman, President of the Galloway Township Republican League. Chris Coleman has been seen at Council meetings accusing Democratic Council members of being dishonest to voters, while running an organization which fails to legally disclose money from unknown sources paid out to Republican candidates.

On Friday, former Galloway Township mayor Don Purdy announced Donald Trump Jr. would be attending a fundraiser Tuesday at the Historic Smithville Inn. Admission for the event is $300 per ticket (private reception for those contributing $1,500 or more) with checks made payable to the same Citizens for Responsible Development. Is the Trump administration involved with a dark money organization in Atlantic County? With so much money spent on Republican elected officials from this secretive group, and no financial disclosures provided to show where their funds originated, it raises the question of who these elected officials are ultimately indebted to, and at what cost. Republicans in Atlantic County have received campaign contributions from special interest groups with funding sources that are untraceable. Without knowing where the money came from, it is impossible to trust the motives of decisions made by these elected officials.

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