Tag Archives: Bashaw

Bashaw Walking Ethics Fence

Former Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) , Curtis Bashaw, wants to build a casino in Atlantic City. We first reported that to you in June. The apparent conflict of interest stinks of shadiness.

Today, the Courier-Post highlighted the ethical issue that Bashaw finds himself in.

The former director of the state agency that doles out casino taxes to redevelopment projects now wants to build his own gambling hall — well before the two-year “cooling off” period dictated by state ethics rules has lapsed.

The waiting period is there to prevent state employees from cashing in on their work at taxpayer expense.

Bashaw was in a position to develop land in and around Atlantic City. If he were permitted to turn right around and build a casino, one might question why the CRDA did not develop the land that such a casino was to be built on. That is why Bashaw is required by law to wait two years before entangling himself in the casino industry.

Bashaw did not wait. Just a mere nine months after leaving his post, it was reported he was working on a deal. Even now, it has been but a year. I’m asking, “Why didn’t the CRDA develop this land?” Could it be that Bashaw sat on this land for his own private interests?

The public has a right to know.

Bashaw Investigated by FBI

Curtis Bashaw, outgoing executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The investigation came upon complaints that Bashaw diverted millions of dollars of federal grant money he had secured for his controversial restoration of Congress Hall in Cape May to housing for the beleagured Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Gannett broke the story today.

The FBI investigated the claim along with the Inspector Genereal of HUD. The conclusion found that Bashaw had done nothing wrong with the federal grant money.

That does not mean, however, that Bashaw has not used his influence to get this and other projects done.

What is interesting is that the investigation of Bashaw began in December of 2003. Bashaw was appointed executive director of CRDA in February 2004. The investigation did not conclude until May 2005. That Bashaw was being investigated by the federal government apparently caused then-governor McGreevey no qualms.

Bashaw will resign this week from his directorship of CRDA. Bashaw paid off his $3.1 in federal loans prior to his departure from CRDA. He will, however, serve as both chairman and director for the Jersey Shore Tourism Corp. While the group is private, it is funded with your tax dollars, dear reader. This is patronage at its worse. Bashaw will control state tax dollars for redevelopment at the shore. Bashaw is a developer at the shore. He has used his influence previously to his benefit. There is no reason to believe he will not again.

Where are the leaders of this state? This cannot be permitted to happen. Mr. Corzine? Mr. Forrester? Mr. Codey?

Courier Post Takes Bashaw to Task

It is almost as if the Courier Post is a reader of eCache. Nevertheless, with Curtis Bashaw’s impending resignation from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority this coming week, it is a good time to remember that he is unfit to represent the public in any venture. The Courier Post does a good job of reminding us of that.

Curtis Bashaw laments shore properties becoming condominiums, yet he has profited from such projects.

Cape May developer Curtis Bashaw, who heads the publicly funded Jersey Shore Tourism Alliance, is the wrong choice to lead the organization.

Bashaw said he recognizes the need to preserve the unique, small-town character of shore towns. Yet he was the first to convert two Cape May motels into luxury condominium hotels. There is a troubling overlap of Bashaw’s for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

Bashaw will resign next week as head of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority after about a year on the job. He leaves that post as questions remain about a CRDA land deal that will benefit a bank that funded some of his Cape May developments.

Last year, Bashaw lamented the redevelopment of shore motels into pricey condominiums. Bashaw contended this could hurt tourism.

“We need our motels and our mini-golf courses and hot dog stands . . . If it all gets razed to make way for condos — many folks may own homes, but they won’t have anything to do,” Bashaw told an Asbury Park audience last year.

Meanwhile, Bashaw and several investment partners recently converted two Cape May motels into the kind of expensive condominiums he claims to oppose.

The Jersey Shore Tourism Alliance — which includes regional tourism councils covering Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties — needs a leader who can live up to his or her words.

Adding to Bashaw’s questionable acts is a 2004 Atlantic City land deal. In April of that year, two months after Bashaw’s appointment to the CRDA by his good friend, former-Gov. James E. McGreevey, the authority approved giving a construction company 11 Atlantic City lots — assessed at $322,700 — for $10.

Vineland Construction is affiliated with Sun National Bank of Vineland, for which it plans to build a bank branch on the property. Sun Bank loaned Bashaw and his business partners $18 million over six years — before and after Bashaw’s appointment to head the CRDA. Bashaw also previously served on the bank’s advisory board and owns Sun Bancorp stock.

Bashaw said no special favors were involved in the Vineland Construction land deal. But it has become difficult to take Bashaw at his word.

That he sees no problem with this deal undermines his credibility as a public official.

Bashaw cannot be relied upon to always put the interest of the shore communities and state taxpayers first as he leads the Jersey Shore Tourism Alliance.

Therefore, he should step down as chairman of the alliance. There should be no question of the organization’s intent. With Bashaw promoting preservation of shore properties and redeveloping them, that intent is not clear.

Bashaw’s Favoritism

Outgoing Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) executive director, Curtis Bashaw, gets his projects approved far more quickly than everyone else. The Asbury Park Press (APP) reports today that Bashaw’s projects have flown through Cape May’s planning boards while everyone else’s projects take their time.

Bashaw’s Driftwood condominium project was completed in a mere nine months.

“He did it in nine months,” Johnston said. “That is unheard of. For most people in Cape May, it takes three years to get past the planning board.”

The APP correctly highlights the millions of dollars Cape May has received during Bashaw’s 19-month tenure at CRDA.

the state agency has approved millions of dollars for CRDA-funded projects in the city of Cape May.

The APP is running a second Bashaw story today. In addition to the favortism Bashaw receives from the Cape May planning board, Bashaw has some interesting partners in his Sandpiper project. The Sandpiper is a hotel in Cape May that Bashaw’s investment group is renovating into condominiums. Jamie Fox, former chief of staff to governor McGreevey, who was deposited in a patronage job with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is one of Bashaw’s partners.

As is Sandy Keziah. Keziah’s firm was hired by the CRDA to conduct a survey about converting hotels to condominiums for $270,000. Keziah was already an investor in the project by the time the survey was done. How objective is that?

And while Bashaw is resigning from CRDA at the end of the month, he will remain chairman of the Jersey Shore Tourism Corporation. This CRDA-funded group has no government oversight. Will Bashaw continue to be able to funnel cash to those who control his projects?

Where is Mr. Corzine? The would-be governor has promised to rid New Jersey of this type of patronage. It would sure be nice of him to swat this arrangement down.

Then there is eCache’s favorite Republican chairman, David Von Savage. If you are not familiar with my troubles with Mr. Von Savage, have a read through this post from last year. eCache has previously outlined the problems Bashaw’s reign has had. It appears that he has truly cashed in his influence for personal gain. This is yet another McGreevey-appointee whose work is mired in corruption.

Bashaw Quits Jersey Shore Alliance

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

Former Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) executive director Curtis Bashaw quit as chairman and director of the Jersey Shore Alliance.

It looks as though political pressure finally was applied. As we pointed out last month, the patronage that this job held was too much to ask taxpayers. It appears others agreed.

Stephen Nagiewicz, the new head of the Jersey Shore Alliance says that Bashaw “was aware of the ethics restrictions placed on certain New Jersey officials when they leave state government,” as reported by the Courier Post on Saturday. Nagiewicz said:

you can’t work some place and approve funding for an organization and then step in unless you have gotten approval from a lot of people. I think he was just looking at the interest of the (nonprofit) organization. I think that he was probably smart enough to check with the state ethics panel. When it comes to being fined for something like that, you certainly have to sit up and take notice.

So, only when the state Executive Commission on Ethical Standards indicated he could be fined that Bashaw saw the problem this position caused. Not once during Bashaw’s tenure at CRDA did he think that the non-profit he established with $600,000 of money he controlled that he decided he would head was problematic. This is the type of leadership the state has had at the helm for too long.

This is the kind of outrage the Jon Corzine-Carla Katz dealings inspire.

More On Bashaw and the CRDA

The Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC), located in Cape May, New Jersey, is a non-profit organization that promotes the restoration, interpretation and cultural enrichment of greater Cape May for its residents and visitors.

Partners (business associates?) of MAC include Congress Hall and The Virginia. Curtis Bashaw is the owner of both Congress hall and The Virginia. Bashaw is also the executive director of the Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority (CRDA).

This coming Monday (8 August), the CRDA is holding a meeting to provide MAC $637,000 to restore the WWII bunker at Cape May Point. CRDA has already agreed to fund a proposed convention center in Cape May.

The Press notes the the benefits the oldest seaside resort has had since Bashaw went to the CRDA:

The two hearings, along with the decision by the CRDA to help fund a new convention center in Cape May, represent a continuing trend in the city to seek money from the agency since local businessman Curtis Bashaw became its executive director. “We’re getting a lot more of that money out of Atlantic City,” Carroll said.

(Tom Carroll is the former proprietor of the Mainstay Inn.)

To Recap

  • Bashaw’s grandfather owned both Congress Hall and The Virginia. He did not pay property taxes on these properties for years claiming they were religious institutions.
  • Bashaw took possession of the properties about 20 years ago.
  • Through a mix of grants and loans, he first renovated The Virginia and then Congress Hall.
  • During this time, Bashaw was on the advisory board of Sun National Bank.
  • Sun National Bank provided much of the loan money Bashaw used to renovate Congress Hall.
  • Sun National Bank got a sweetheart deal from the CRDA when it sold a property it owned to the CRDA for well over its value.
  • Sun affiliate, Vineland Construction, was able to purchase 11 properties in Atlantic City for $ 10 from the CRDA.
  • Vineland Construction also received development rights to a project in Atlantic City.
  • Sun provided campaign funds to former Governor McGreevey and many of his associates.
  • Bashaw was appointed executive director of the CRDA by Governor McGreevey.
  • Bashaw is a stock-holder of Sun.
  • When Bashaw re-structured his debt (after securing another loan from Sun) making it so Sun the first priority, over the federal loans he had, the Economic Development Authority provided approval. Bashaw sits on the EDA even though he recused himself from this decision.
  • The CRDA is financing projects with partners of Bashaw in Cape May.

This sure sounds like pay-to-play. This is the very thing which the would-be governor, Jon Corzine, has taken his opponent to task for.

For months, Forrester has railed against no-bid deals, saying “we have to stop no-bid contracts.” Yet as these newly-revealed facts show, at the very same time that Forrester has been criticizing this nefarious practice, he’s been profiting from it (and using the proceeds to fund his gubernatorial campaign.)

Matt Stoller, Corzine’s professional blogger, refuses to answer direct questions regarding why his candidate will not hold the current administration to the same standard he holds his opponent. As another person in the thread mentioned, Bashaw is a Republican, so there should be no hesitation on Corzine’s part to blast away at the apparent corruption at the CRDA. All I am asking for is leadership from Mr. Corzine. He is the one who is championing to rid New Jersey of corruption, favoritism and fraud. Why will he not step up to the lectern now and show us how he will do so?

Curiouser and Curiouser

Carnival of the NJ Bloggers
Carnival of the NJ Bloggers

Yesterday I told you about the link of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) executive director Curtis Bashaw and Sun National Bank. Today, Gannett delves into the links between Sun and the McGreevey administration.

Bashaw, prior to being appointed to the CRDA by former governor James McGreevey, was on the advisory board of none other than Sun National Bank. He still owns stock in the bank. Bashaw also sits on Economic Development Authority (EDA) that approves loans from the federal government. Congress Hall, Bashaw’s prized renovated hotel in Cape May received federal funds. While he took on more Sun debt to finance the project, the EDA needed to approve the balance of debt, now that the feds were no longer going to be first in line for payment. The EDA approved the re-structuring of debt, even though Bashaw did recuse himself.

Bashaw does not recuse himself, however, now in his dealings with Sun as the executive director of the CRDA.

Bashaw said he hasn’t recused himself from CRDA issues with Sun National Bank.

But he is overseeing a massive project that Vineland Construction is running. The links are too close and the appearance of impropriety is too great. It is such that Tom Bracken, chief executive officer of Sun National Bank, tried to diffuse what is on every reader’s mind:

But there is no quid pro quo at all involved with this.

But Sun’s links to the corrupt McGreevey administration make it difficult to accept at face value.

And just to bring this full circle, it appears that Sun’s own PAC finances David Von Savage, the Cape May County Republican Party chairman. Mr. Von Savage as the one who was responsible for the advertisement on PoliticsNJ.com which showed Osama bin Laden holding up a Kerry for President placard.

This entire story reeks of McGreevey’s dirty politics. Bashaw advised Sun. Sun drops money all over the state, including areas that support McGreevey. McGreevey and Bashaw are friends. McGreevey appoints Bashaw to head the CRDA right after CRDA provides a sweetheart deal to Sun. Sun steps up and provides Bashaw with the money he needs to complete his renovation of Congress Hall.

The ties are too tight. Where is the would-be governor speaking out about the corruption, favoritism and fraud?

CRDA, Sun National Bank, and Bashaw Corruption

The Asbury Park Press today detailed the loan deals between Sun National Bank and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). The CRDA is headed by Curtis Bashaw, a political appointee of former governor, James McGreevey. I detailed Bashaw’s position last October. He was one of the few in the governor’s small circle immediately prior to the governor’s announcement of being a gay American.

The CRDA purchased Sun’s building and land in Atlantic City in November 2003 for twice the value of the property. Once Bashaw was appointed head of the CRDA, an affiliate of Sun was sold 11 lots in Atlantic City for $10. Later, the affiliate, Vineland Construction, was awarded development rights to the project at Indiana and Atlantic avenues. Sun has financed $18 million in loans for Bashaw’s Cape May hotel, Congress Hall.

Obviously, the ties between Bashaw and Sun are tight. Is there oversight at the CRDA? Why is the CRDA permitted to use money to finance a company with is so linked to Bashaw’s personal wealth? Is this not a conflict of interest?

McGreevey’s corruption continues. Congress Hall was a mess for decades. That Bashaw and his associates redeveloped it is great. That he did so at the expense of progress in Atlantic City is more than a shame; it is shady. It is time for Bashaw to go. No one can trust his judgment at the CRDA given his ties to Sun.

Inspector General Cooper has another task to investigate here.

Finally, here is another episode for the would-be governor, Jon Corzine, to show us what he is made of. If he is going to clear up the corruption, favoritism and fraud in our state, how about if he takes the lead here? Call for Bashaw’s dismissal. Demand an investigation. Explain what he would do to ensure the CRDA is not fraught with corruption in the future. Inaction will speak volumes.