Entries for March 4th, 2012

UCWA investigated by a serious government group

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Two agents from the state Division of Taxation criminal investigation unit visited my home unannounced in January to question the non-profit status of the Union County Watchdog Association.

I was shocked and disturbed to read in the Star-Ledger’s Auditor column today that Treasury spokesman, Andy Pratt, said he didn’t have any details, but acknowledged agents work off tips – usually high-profile stuff. “What that unit normally handles is some very sensitive stuff,” Pratt said, adding that “sometimes they deal with terrorists…. They’re a serious group.”

I am a citizen that requests information about my county government spending. I then disseminate that information to the public. I do not do this anonymously nor maliciously, just as a civic duty. For these activities my government has put me in the same category as they would terrorists.

I am an American citizen exercising what I consider to be my civic responsibility. I am left to wonder, what authority, if any, protects my rights?

I’m going to keep asking my government that question no matter how they try and stop me. Because I am a patriot, that’s the opposite of a terrorist.

Today’s Auditor column isn’t on-line yet:

Who let the dogs out?
Tina Renna has a talent for annoying Democrats in Union County, where she has been a thorn in the side of the freeholders for years. Her tirades, spoken through a thick New York accent, are the stuff of legend.

As amusing as Renna is, the Cranford resident is also resourceful. Her group, the Union County Watchdog Association, runs a blog including videos, analysis and documents obtained through record requests. Now, Renna says, someone has unleashed the dogs on her.

One morning in January, she said, two agents from the state Division of Taxation’s criminal investigation unit visited her house, asking about the group’s charitable status and whether it was properly registered.

The Division of Consumer Affairs, which handles registration, says the group filed paperwork in 2005 but has not done so since then. Renna claims her group has a waiver exempting it from annual registration. In either event, she says, why send two law enforcement officials to her house?

Renna says someone in county government pulled strings, through a Union County spokesman said he was unaware of anyone requesting an investigation.

A Treasury spokesman, Andy Pratt, said he didn’t have any details, but acknowledged agents work off tips – usually high-profile stuff. “What that unit normally handles is some very sensitive stuff,” Pratt said, adding that “sometimes they deal with terrorists…. They’re a serious group.”

Tina Renna is president of the Union County Watchdog Association. She can be reached at tinarenna@unioncountywatchdog.org.