ballard zipprich 101815Councilman and Democratic party chair Ed Zipprich, right, with Democratic council candidate Michael Ballard at the borough Halloween parade last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Election 2015 graphic[SEE UPDATE BELOW ]

An eleventh-hour election email purportedly sent by Red Bank Democratic Party chairman and Councilman Ed Zipprich has drawn fire from Republicans both for its content, which they allege was “word-for-word” plagiarized, and for the method by which it was distributed.

Republican chairman Sean DiSomma and Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer both said Zipprich took an email that Schwabenbauer sent out Monday afternoon in support of the two Republican council candidates and tweaked it into an endorsement of the two Democratic candidates.

Then Zipprich sent his version out to recipients whose addresses he improperly obtained from the borough parks and recreation department, said Di Somma, who called for an investigation by state election authorities.

Zipprich did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Tuesday.

Here’s an email Schwabenbauer said she sent out Tuesday afternoon:

Good evening!
Tomorrow, we have a rare opportunity here in Red Bank. With two Republicans on the Council and two strong candidates running, we can move into the majority and change the face of Red Bank government for the first time in decades. But it won’t happen without you.
I’m writing to ask you to go to the polls tomorrow and vote for Mark Taylor and Michael Whelan, two of the most motivated, energetic young men I’ve met during my career.
Over the past six months, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as this team’s (very) unofficial coach and campaign consultant. 🙂 What I’ve learned about them is that, first and foremost, these are good people. They’re in this race for the right reasons – not to better themselves by building a client base or adding something to their resumes, but because they truly want to see Red Bank do better. They want to make Red Bank a place where young people can still afford to buy homes and raise families. They want to see new ideas get a voice, and they want to build a Council that listens and responds to the residents of Red Bank. I also noticed them working as a real team every step of the way, a skill that’s terribly underrated and no one gets too excited about in politics, but one that’s so critical to getting things done once you’re elected. And they’re smart – they’ve certainly kept me on my toes since last spring! I need them sitting next to me on the dais, because we can do so much more for Red Bank once they’re Council members.
Tomorrow, we bring it all home. It’s our first real chance in over twenty years to create a new Council, and the power is in your hands.
Please vote for Mark Taylor and Michael Whelan.
Thank you – see you at the polls!

Here’s the purported Zipprich email:

From: E J Zipprich [] Sent: Monday, November 02, 2015 8:45 PM
Subject: Election Day Request from Councilman Ed Zipprich

Good evening!

Tomorrow, we have a huge opportunity here in Red Bank to keep our town moving forward. With five Democrats on the Council and two outstanding candidates running, we can move into the future and continue to enhance Red Bank’s municipal government — as you know Red Bank has prospered under Democratic leadership. It took decades to rebuild our town making it a destination that visitors frequent to shop and dine. A Ballard/DuPont victory won’t happen without you.

I’m writing to ask you to go to the polls tomorrow and vote for Michael Ballard and Michael DuPont, two of the most experienced and committed men I’ve met. Mssrs. Ballard and DuPont have been involved in Red Bank for many years and are continuing their dedication to keeping Red Bank visible and viable.

Over the past 7 years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving with this team both on the council and on the Parks and Recreation Committee. These candidates are great people. They’re running for town Council because they want to see Red Bank succeed. They believe in representing their constituents fairly and equally. They have volunteered countless hours over the course of their involvement on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, on the Parks and Rec committee, with the schools and by coaching our kids on the field.   They aren’t building up their resumes like their young, inexperienced opponents. They truly want to see Red Bank do better. They want to make Red Bank a place where young people and our seniors can still afford to buy homes and raise families and live out their golden years in a place they’ve always called home. They want our local Red Bank government to continue listening and responding to its residents. It’s hard work — Ballard and DuPont have the maturity and experience to do it.

This team works effectively together. They don’t follow a party mantra of  “group think” like the DiSomma GOP — where it’s more important to pit Red Bank neighbors against one another and garnering “gotcha moments” like they did last summer that drove our Council President out of local politics and is politicizing our children’s education.

I need Michael Ballard and Michael DuPont sitting with me, Mayor Menna and the other elected officials on the dais, because we can keep Red Bank moving in the right direction with the right team!

Tomorrow, it’s time to cast your ballot. It’s our chance to elect Michael Ballard and re-elect Councilman DuPont to the governing body. The power is in your hands.

Please vote for Michael Ballard and Michael DuPont.

Thanks a million – see you at the polls!


Di Somma alleged Zipprich’s plagiarism even included the use of bold text to highlight candidates’ names, as Schwabenbauer had done.

Here’s Schwabenbauer’s response, from a GOP press release issued early on election day:

“A friend forwarded to me an email drafted by Councilman Ed Zipprich this evening in support of his candidates. Unfortunately, it was the same email I had written in support of my own candidates, Mark Taylor and Michael Whalean, and sent out early this afternoon, with some words changed and some sentences added. It’s word for word identical in most places,” Schwabenbauer said.
“I spent a great deal of time crafting a message about Mark and Michael that conveyed my genuine feelings of support without saying anything negative about the other side. I take pride in my work and I do it all myself – no one has ever ghost written anything for me, and while it’s an investment of my time, it’s worth it to me because it means I stand behind every word. To have my work stolen in this way is unacceptable. I am very sensitive to people taking credit for my work, and I will have a hard time forgiving this.
I have worked next to Ed in good faith all year, and truly believed this kind of tactic was beneath him. How sad I am to find that I was wrong.”

Among the recipients of Zipprich’s email, Di Somma said, was former Atlantic Highlands Mayor Michael Harmon, who sits on the Monmouth County Board of Recreation Commissioners. Harmon forwarded the email to Di Somma and Councilwoman Cindy Burnham with a note saying that Zipprich “must have” gotten his email address from the borough parks and rec list.

“I regularly receive recreation updates from the town” Harmon said in his note, “but never one from this guy that is political.

Here’s what Di Somma had to say about the distribution:
“Desperate people do desperate things.  On the eve of losing control of Red Bank voters’ escalating property taxes, the Democratic Chairman, Councilman Ed Zipprich, apparently decided it was worth the risk of violating New Jersey Election Law, Ethics Law and to potentially commit Official Misconduct by illegally obtaining the Borough Parks and Recreations Department’s email list and using it for political purposes, ” said DiSomma. “On behalf of Red Bank taxpayers, I am calling for an investigation by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Local Finance Board and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.”
[UPDATE: In response to questions sent him by redbankgreen, Zipprich sent this reply:

“Nope, didn’t use a pubilic list in fact it was a list Cindy uses when she cc’s everyone”

He did not address questions about alleged plagiarism.]