Campaign contributor chalks illegal $7,400 donation to ‘ignorance’

WEST NEW YORK AND BEYOND — After West New York Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega sent out a press release yesterday calling upon his challenger in the May election, Dr. Felix Roque, to return an illegal campaign contribution from a corporation to the amount of $10,000 or face legal issues, Roque’s campaign manager called acceptance of the contribution “an honest mistake,” and immediately returned the check back to the contributor.
Roque’s campaign manager, Joe DeMarco, said yesterday that the contribution, issued in the form of a company check, had left them with the impression that it was a contribution made by several members of the corporation.
But in the release, Vega said “the law is clear and anyone running for public office knows it very well.”
State election law limits the amount of a contribution from an individual or a corporation to $2,600.
The contributor, Dr. Antonio Gines, said today that he had “mistakenly” written the $10,000 check from his corporation, nursing care company Mi Casa Es Su Casa in Saddle Brook, and only yesterday learned that it was illegal after Roque’s campaign manager, Joe DeMarco, attempted to return the $7,400 surplus.
Gines chalked the illegal amount up to his “ignorance” of electoral regulations as a man “not involved much in the public.”
“It was not my intention [to do anything illegal], he said. “I wrote the check thinking it was permitted from a corporation, and it was not.”
When DeMarco went to hand back the illegal amount, Gines reissued three equal, separate checks to each of three candidates on the Together We Can Team within the requirement of election law.
Gines, a close friend of Roque’s, wanted to dispel any thoughts that Roque might need to resort to illegal means to raise funds.
“Dr. Roque doesn’t need the job of mayor for the money. He has no need to be a politician,” he said. “He’s doing it for the right reason…it’s one of the few times I’m seeing this in my life, and that’s why I’m supporting him.”
In response to the allegations, Roque said that Vega “should practice what he preaches” in terms of transparency, and that he is still waiting on information regarding Vega’s sexual harassment settlement in February. The terms of the settlment in that case have not been disclosed.
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