Elements within the GOP conspire for Democrat Perez
New York City lawyer Dan Perez was introduced into Sussex County politics through the mess that is Vernon Township governance. Perez was brought in by fellow lawyer Kevin Kelly, to overturn the Republican establishment in Vernon, then led by allies of former Freeholder Glenn Vetrano.
The means of that overthrow was classic Bill Kunstler. Yes, Marxist lawyer William Kunstler. Perez trained under Kunstler, an avowed Marxist, and was an associate in his law firm. After Kunstler's death, Perez managed the firm in partnership with Kunstler's law partner, Ron Kuby.
The Kunstler law firm defended members of the Catonsville Nine, Black Panther Party, Weather Underground Organization, the Attica Prison rioters, and the American Indian Movement. But Kunstler refused to defend groups like the Tea Party, on the grounds that: "I only defend those whose goals I share. I'm not a lawyer for hire. I only defend those I love."
Kunstler defended Joanne Chesimard (AKA Assata Shakur) who was convicted of murdering a New Jersey State Trooper and who escaped from prison with the help of fellow terrorists. She is now on the FBI's MOST WANTED list.
In collaboration with Dan Perez' law partner Ron Kuby, Kunstler defended Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, head of the terrorist group Gama'a al-Islamiyah, responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Colin Ferguson, the man responsible for the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting; Glenn Harris, a New York City public school teacher who absconded with a fifteen-year-old girl; Nico Minardos, indicted by Rudy Giuliani for conspiracy to ship arms to Iran; and associates of the Gambino organized crime family.
Kunstler trained Perez in hysteria-driven, media-centered political lawyering and Perez learned well. First, Perez teamed up with Kevin Kelly -- the lawyer for the New Jersey Herald -- to make sure the media coverage lurched his way. Then, he threw a legal hail-Mary and filed a RICO suit against the GOP leaders in Vernon. It got plenty of press, made for salacious reading, but was -- so far as the law is concerned -- ridiculous. But with the right media coverage, it successfully smeared the Vernon GOP and set the stage for a change of government.
Behind it all was a very special interest -- big money, deep pockets -- in the form of the late, great Mr. Mulvihill. He underwrote the campaign to change the form of government and, through the Herald's Kevin Kelly, hired some of the county's best political consultants to do polling and strategy. Mulvihill got behind a new team called "Vernon First" which included a gentleman by the name of Joe Tadrick, who ran for Vernon council as a member of that team. Most of the team got elected too -- but it didn't turn out quite as planned because the new Mayor had a streak of independence that could not be broken. Bully for him!
Dan Perez went on to represent Republican Kelly and his Democrat colleague in their lawsuit against the Sparta Police Department. Kelly went on to do pro bono work for a local veterans group active in Vernon. Favors were given and favors expected.
Perez conducted a personal jihad against former Freeholder Vetrano -- and used his allies on the all-Republican Freeholder Board to land him a coveted position on the Sussex County Community College board. Perez held that post long enough to gain a bit more publicity (courtesy of the ever-willing Herald) and to ruin the careers (or, at least, attempt to) of a few more Republicans.
Perez became involved in the 2015 Republican primary as the lawyer and political advisor to Assembly candidate Gail Phoebus and to what became known as the "George Graham ticket" of Freeholder candidates Carl Lazzaro and Jonathan Rose. All were successful, and one of the first acts of the new majority on the Freeholder Board was to appoint Dan Perez to yet another coveted political patronage position -- Commissioner of the SCMUA Board.
In just a few years, New York City lawyer Dan Perez has risen through the ranks of Sussex County Republicans without the need to be a Republican. His career has been sustained and promoted by Republicans -- with a huge assist from the New Jersey Herald. This is remarkable, given his associations with a Marxist like Bill Kunstler. But this is, after all, Sussex County -- where being a "goodfella" is what matters most.
This will be a very interesting election, so stay tuned...