KIYC: NJSPCA officials encouraged sending fake emails to lawmakers
In a last-ditch effort to avoid losing its law enforcement power, the New Jersey SPCA is instructing its officers to use fake names and email addresses to lobby lawmakers, according to agency emails obtained by Kane In Your Corner.
The strategy is first outlined in a Dec. 20 email from NJSPCA board member and Warrant Commander Phil Amato to more than 50 NJSPCA officers. Amato urges them to call as many Assembly members as possible, but to “use a different name and email. Nobody should call and say they are from the NJSPCA."
Former NJSPCA officer Brian Stone says he’s appalled by the group’s tactics. “How can a law enforcement agency tell people to lie? If that's what you feel you need to do to stay in existence, you don't deserve to be in existence,” Stone says.
“If the NJSPCA was doing the job they want people to believe they're doing, they wouldn't need to have people come up with fake email addresses and call under false pretenses,” says Lia Strucich of the animal reform group “Reformers NJ,” which first obtained the emails.
The NJSPCA may have hastened its demise with the fake-name campaign, according to the office of the reform bill’s Assembly sponsor, Dan Benson (D – Hamilton Square). "We were made aware of the email," says Benson’s chief of staff, Sharon Gardner. "Needless to say, the strategy backfired, and the Assembly offices were made aware that people calling weren't who they said they were. Stooping to that level isn't smart."
Amato’s emails credit the NJSPCA’s lobbyist with devising the fake-name strategy. But the lobbyist, Tim Martin, tells Kane In Your Corner, “I have never, nor would I ever even suggest such a thing.”
An Assembly vote on the NJSPCA’s future is scheduled for Jan. 8. If the reform bill is not passed by the Assembly before the legislative session ends the next day, lawmakers would have to start the process from the beginning. If the bill is passed, Gov. Chris Christie has until Jan. 16, his last day in office, to sign it.