Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan was the subject of a recent Bergen Record article that details her relationship with Alan C. Marcus, and what influence Marcus played in the awarding of Bergen County contracts.
Many – mostly allies of Alan Marcus – attributed the Donovan win in 2010 to the role Marcus played in managing Donovan’s campaign; but many others argue that the drawn out Democratic scandals at the time made it a foregone conclusion that the Democrats would be defeated in that election.
Donovan came to office on the tail wind of a Democratic scandal that involved Joe Ferriero, former Bergen County Democratic Chairman. Ferriero was convicted of fraud charges in 2009, and the conviction was soon overturned in 2010.
While a US District Judge determined that the charges against Ferriero were not crimes, the court of public opinion had decided that politics as usual was something that needed to change in Bergen County – and Donovan won out over the incumbent BC Executive, Dennis McInerney.
Now, the Bergen Record is raising questions as to whether the new boss is the same as the old boss, and once again – who is the boss?
Alan Marcus heads up The Marcus Group, a public relations and advertising firm that advises on its website that “..sometimes staying out of the paper is harder than getting into it. The Marcus Group has a proven track record of ‘turning the tables’ to reveal the untold truth…” The primary focus of the Marcus Group is on public relations, crisis management, and advertisement, as noted in their NJ ELEC reports for 2012 & 2013; but in 2010 Alan Marcus listed his occupation as “lobbyist”.
The Record’s in-depth investigation targets the role Marcus has played after the election as an informal advisor to the Bergen County Executive, and if that has influenced the awarding of Bergen County contracts.
Alan Marcus and the Marcus Group were first getting unwanted press when hired to advise the Triple Five developers of the Meadowlands project formerly known as Xanadu. In November of 2011, The Record covered the hiring in an article where Donovan and Marcus both claimed there was no conflict of interest between his role as unpaid advisor to the Bergen County Executive and the developers of American Dream.
At that point, Marcus is quoted as saying, “There is no conflict, because there is nothing I asked the county to do and nothing they asked from me.” ; but in July 2013 Bloomberg.com reports that the Bergen County Improvement Authority is awaiting revenue projections and tax valuations as Marcus’s client wants Bergen County to act as a conduit issuer of $600 million in bonds.
Alan Marcus made the papers again in April of 2013 when the Marcus Group was awarded a public relations contract for Bergen Community College. In this situation, the Marcus Group playbook of “turning the tables” was to act the part of a reluctant lover who did not really want the $7,500 a month contract. After a major public outcry, the Marcus Group quickly backed out of the contract deal.
This has not stopped federal prosecutors from taking an interest in the situation, and in June 2013 Bergen Community College was served with a subpoena seeking documents “pertaining to the hiring, engagement and retention of public relations consultants, including, but not limited to Alan C. Marcus and the Marcus Group from January 1, 2012, to the present.”
Most recently, Marcus has gotten the County embroiled in another lawsuit which was reported on in April 2013. This lawsuit is just beginning, but centers on allegations that Donovan conspired with Marcus to switch from the insurance broker of Brown and Brown, to that of Conner & Strong headed by George Norcross. The recent revelations argue that Marcus influenced Donovan as part of a personal vendetta.
Democratic Freeholders, and now Republican Freeholders, are calling on a review of all county contracts with companies owned or operated by Marcus.
Submitted by Richard Saunders