Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

An update to last night’s piece:

Based on assurances from the Paul Perez campaign last night, that the Perez campaign was not responsible for producing or distributing a tasteless graphic yesterday featuring the late Ray Charles “endorsing” Paul Perez’s candidacy for Trenton Mayor, I wrote the following: A representative from Paul Perez’s campaign denied that they had anything to do with both the Ray Charles and the MLK graphics. So, as of this evening, this short-lived graphic seems to be a genuine dirty trick, produced by others to embarrass the Perez campaign.”

Sorry about that. I based my statement yesterday on the denial below from campaign representative Michael Ranallo, which appears to have been a false statement

mr 5-2-18That was before another reader sent me the following screengrabs, made before the original posts were deleted from Facebook.  Note: I will not post the full original graphic, so the image below has been cut-and-pasted.

rc composite

Michael Torres, you may recall from yesterday, is the Perez supporter who reported the distribution of Walker Worthy campaign literature at the downtown Motor Vehicles office. Bill Kearney is a Perez supporter who has been producing a number of Perezz graphics for social media. Since Mr. Torres asked Mr. Kearney to make the RC graphic public, and he did so, one may assume that Kearney produced this graphic as well.

You will also note that the candidate, Paul Perez, was tagged in the original post.

This is really a small insignificant incident in the grand scale of Trenton’s election season. Except for a few things.

In my post yesterday, I wrote how Reed Gusciora owned up to and took responsibility for a probably more offensive campaign graphic that he told me was produced and distributed by a campaign supporter without his or his campaign staff’s knowledge. Subsequent to my post, by the way, Mr. Gusciora wrote a note on Facebook explaining the incident in greater detail.

I also wrote how Walker Worthy campaign manager Reese Lennon took responsibility, however awkwardly, for supporters associated with his campaign distributing their literature in the MVC office.

Of the three examples I cited yesterday, two campaigns took responsibility.

Paul Perez’s campaign responded by both deleting the graphic, and intentionally misled me about the role played by the campaign in the creation and distribution of yesterday’s graphic.

Not cool.

Michael Ranallo, responsible for yesterday’s written denial, is a senior campaign worker with whom I have been in contact on other matters, namely regarding the status of the outstanding and problematic campaign finance reports overdue from Mr. Perez’s failed 2014 mayoral campaign. On April 19, he sent me an email assuring me that work had nearly been completed on addressing these open questions. I excerpt that email below (Emphasis mine):

ranallo 4-19

The candidate assured me, both by directly speaking to me and having his lawyer send me a letter, that he took “full responsibility” for both the mess created by his 2014 reports and for the clean-up. Which, as Mr. Ranallo told me several weeks ago, was “complete.”

As of this morning, however, there are no updated, revised reports from 2014 posted to the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) website. Although both Mr. Ranallo and Mr. Perez offered to have me review all of their documents, I told them I looked forward to seeing the updated reports on the ELEC site. Looking through a campaign’s internal reports proves nothing, not until the candidate signs a report and sends it to the State.

Which has not been done.

Which means all of the questions I raised in February – about improper cash expenditures, the total absence of cash receipts, missing in-kind income and/or expenses – are still open. None of them have been answered.

As far as the campaign is concerned, wrote Mr. Ranallo, there’s “no proof” any cash was ever received by the campaign. Any thought that cash may have been received or spent around the many campaign events held around town, is just “speculation.”

We are only six days from the election. Paul Perez’s 2014 campaign reports are as elusive as Donald Trump’s tax returns. We are not likely to see them before the election.

In February, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I trusted Mr. Perez, Mr. Perez’s lawyer, Mr. Ranallo, and the Perez campaign, when they promised to clear up serious campaign finance questions. They haven’t done that. They fooled me once.

Yesterday, about what should really be a silly insignificant matter, relative to much bigger issues, the campaign chose to intentionally mis-state their involvement. On the basis of the written reassurance given me by Mike Ranallo, I wrote that the Perez campaign wasn’t involved. And that does not seem to be the case. They fooled me twice. Shame on me.

The Ray Charles graphic is a throwaway, a stupid idea stupidly executed, laughed over by their creators like junior high school students’ first experiment with Photoshop. Yet they lied about it to me.

The graphic yesterday is not important. That Paul Perez has not answered four-year old campaign finance questions six days before the election, is.

The failure of Donald Trump to release his personal tax returns during of after the 2016 Presidential election was one of many indicators during that election that he was the kind of person that he has proven to be in office: venal, duplicitous, not to be trusted. It was there for all to see. Not enough people believed what they saw. And the man is doing incalculable damage to this country and its democracy.

Paul Perez and his campaign are showing us the same types of indicators of what he may be like in office. It’s there for all Trentonians to see.

Will we believe what we see? We’ll find out May 8.

1 comment to Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

  • Michael Ranallo

    Kevin I’m disappointed and angry.

    We spoke via FB this morning and I said I’d have to email you my position on this because I can’t FB at work and you agreed.

    You didn’t even wait for my email before writing this.

    I literarily hit send and got notice that your piece was published.

    That means you were writing it as I was writing you.

    I’ll post my email to you in its entirety below so people can see what was written.

    Also, I did my absolute best to clean up those ELEC reports and we communicated about that as well. If they were still problematic, why wait until now to tell me?

    Trying to smear Paul using a silly ‘throwaway’ meme is really reaching.

    Also, It’s your OPINION that you were not told the truth. You have no concrete facts showing anything except something some unnamed person sent you.

    Both of the people you mentioned are – as you wrote- SUPPORTERS of the Campaign and not Campaign personnel.

    Also, the Campaign officially answers to ELEC on ELEC related matters and to my knowledge ELEC has not complained to us. I was extremely accommodating and forthcoming with that matter so holding your dissatisfaction only to cobble it together with something that seemingly only you saw and took offense to is thin.

    I just really wish you would have stood by your word and allowed me to email you before publishing this.

    Perhaps it wouldn’t have changed the outcome but at least you could say you stood by your word.

    At this point I have to question the credibility and bias of what you write. I trusted you to allow my reply.



    Sorry for the delay in the reply, I can not do FB at work so I am limited to email.

    Of course I can’t control what you write but am going to push back slightly.

    What I saw from the pictures you sent me was the following:

    1. Something that Bill privately posted to his FB feed.

    2. Something that he was asked to make public so it could be shared by someone. I can take the image you sent me, post it to my profile and make it public. It doesn’t mean that you or I created it.

    3. Something that was – for some reason – pulled down after it was posted.

    What I did not see:

    1. Actual proof that Bill, Mike or anyone from the Campaign created this.

    I have to stand by my statement that the Campaign had nothing to do with this. Paul – and obviously Reed based on what I have read – cannot control what other people do on social media or with Campaign materials. It is entirely reasonable to me to expect that the Candidate cannot possibly control 100% of what is out there, especially on social media where you are dealing with thousands of people connected to thousands more people.

    There have been probably a dozen or so of those things created and posted. Who made the others?

    You stating that the Campaign ‘intentionally’ misrepresented itself in regards to the creation and distribution of the image is kind of reaching in my opinion. I asked and was told we had nothing to do with it and still believe that to be the case.

    If you have facts that prove me to be incorrect please let me know so I can at least address it on my side as well. I wouldn’t appreciate being misled and being made to look foolish by my own team.

    I’m also going to say that throughout this Campaign we (Paul’s ‘team’) have been continually told by Paul to stay on the high side. That’s the way he runs things and all of my interactions with him have backed that up. He tells us to stay off social media and with the exception of one person I can think of who sometimes can’t resist commenting, for the most part, we do. I know I have been really trying to stay clear of anything that might cause bumps and distractions.

    I also hope this email didn’t offend you because I consider you a friend but need to defend my side on this.

    There are six days until the election and I believe we have run a very ‘mud-free’ and controversy free Campaign.

    I am curious though if ‘Fans’ received complaints about the photo used and the meme itself or did the image just go up and disappear without much notice or backlash?