UNION COUNTY, NJ — County Finance Director Bibi Taylor was not present at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Thursday, but a member of the public criticized the county’s awarding of a contract to the law firm her husband belongs to, as well as her receipt of campaign donations from architects chosen to design the new government complex in Elizabeth.
The board approved a $50,000 contract with the law firm of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt, Cappelli, Tipton & Taylor, LLC, to guide the county in lawfully managing the $65.3 million it received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
County Manager Edward Oatman said the firm works with the county to ensure the intricate requirements for the federal coronavirus recovery funds are met, and the firm had done similar work when the county received funding through the CARES Act.
“They work with us to make sure we do not get audited and don’t have to pay all this money back to the feds, so it’s in the taxpayers’ best interest to provide counsel to make sure we are within the rules of how this money is spent,” Oatman said.
Lester E. Taylor III, the husband of finance director Taylor, is a partner at the firm receiving the contract.
Garwood resident Bruce Paterson remarked upon the connection, saying, “This is your county CFO Bibi Taylor’s husband’s legal firm.”
“You’re wasting the stimulus monies on them because it’s some kind of nepotistic scam,” Paterson said.
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Paterson also noted Bibi Taylor “made the news” this week, referring to a Politico article about donations for her since-dropped Democratic primary campaign for state Assembly.
The article stated Taylor raised $15,600 from members of DIGroup Architecture, their spouses and a member of Mast Construction Services, which is also involved in the complex, for the campaign she launched to run for Assembly in District 21.
TAPinto confirmed these donations through the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission database.
“She and her husband should return the illicitly gained money, not use it for their personal whim,” Paterson said.
According to the Politico article, however, the donations do not appear to violate New Jersey’s pay-to-play law.
In a statement quoted by Politico, Taylor said, “All contributions to my Assembly campaign account were made in conformance with applicable campaign contribution rules and regulations.”
Taylor serves as project manager for the Union County Improvement Authority.
“Principals with DIGroup have known me for over 20 years,” said Taylor in the statement. “Selection of DIGroup as bridging architect at the UCIA was made in consultation with the County of Union and made in accordance with local purchasing laws. As one of the largest minority-owned architectural firms in NJ, DIGroup was qualified to perform necessary services to the UCIA and did so within budget and on time.”
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