From the Lakeland Bank Code of Ethics*:
“F. Participation in Public Affairs. It is the philosophy of the Company to encourage on the part of its Employees a full awareness of and interest in civic and political responsibility. Each Employee shall have the opportunity to support community activities or the political process, as he or she desires. Voluntary efforts for civic activities shall take place outside of regular business hours and shall not interfere or otherwise adversely affect the Employee’s performance of their duties and responsibilities. Neither the Company nor any Person acting on its behalf shall establish any program to solicit, collect or distribute political contributions from a Person. No Person shall be under any obligation of any kind to utilize their compensation to make political contributions and no Person or other Person acting on behalf of the Company’s behalf shall seek to create or enforce any such obligation. Further, in order to ensure compliance within the complex framework imposed by state and local pay-to-play laws, the executive officers and directors (or their spouses or members of their households) of the Bank should not make any contributions to state, county or municipal political candidates or state, county or municipal political parties that collectively exceeds $300 per candidate (or their election committee) for any election cycle or $300 per political party for any calendar year. For example, executive officers and directors should not make contributions of more than $300 in the aggregate to any political candidate or their election committee during the general election campaign. (In the event that you have any questions regarding the laws described above, please contact either the Bank’s General Counsel or Compliance Officer.) Nothing contained in this section is intended to discourage Persons from active personal involvement in the political process, including the making of personal political contributions, or to otherwise limit the rights and obligations of Persons as responsible citizens. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this Code (i) requires that before a Person seeks or accepts a nomination or appointment to any public office, whether paid or unpaid, that Person must first obtain the Company’s prior approval (which shall be presented to and reviewed by the Human Resources Department); and (ii) prohibits political campaigning, Page 11 of 19 wearing and/or displaying political campaign slogans, distributing political literature, and/or soliciting campaign funds at or in the work place.”
Saily Avelenda was a Vice President and Associate General Counsel for the Lakeland Bank— she claims that she obtained prior approval from her immediate supervisor to participate in the SuperPAC. And then Frelinghuysen sent a letter to his crony who happens to be a Board Member:
“The fundraising letter went to Joseph O’Dowd, a Lakeland Bank board member who has given $700 to Frelinghuysen during previous election cycles, according to Federal Election Commission records. O’Dowd and several managers at the bank also donate to the New Jersey Bankers Association, which in turn gives most of its money to the American Bankers Association. That group has about 20 paid lobbyists in Washington, according to disclosure statements filed with Congress.”
The most powerful congressman in New Jersey, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, wrote a fundraising letter in March to a board…www.wnyc.org
Saily Alevenda broke no laws, adhered to her employer’s Code of Ethics, and for exercising her rights as a citizen was targeted by a vengeful Member of Congress wielding influence from a bully pulpit. This, for the reason of wanting their candidate to hold a townhall meeting.
It shouldn’t matter what side of the aisle you occupy, Republican or Democratic; this is fundamentally wrong. Frelinghuysen’s behaviour, while not illegal, was shameful and cowardly, and illustrates just how casually wealthy elitists exercise their privilege and power.