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GOP Congressional Candidate Dilks Calls for Investigation into Mishandling of MLK Grant

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William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet

Turnersville, NJ (August 30, 2018)(CNBNewsnet)-- Paul Dilks, (below photo, left) a resident of Turnersville, an the Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District in NJ, is calling for an investigation into the alleged mishandling of a Community Block Grant by Democratic officials.Dilks is running against incumbent Democrat Congressman Donald Norcross (below photo, right).  Dilks alleges that Norcross and fellow Democrats have redirected the $229,000 Community Block grant that was supposed to go towards the preservation and restoration of a home at 753 Walnut Street once used by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (MLK).

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Superior Court Judge Deborah Silverman Katz at a May 4 court hearing on the matter said she was "dismayed" that the money meant for the rehabilitation was not used for that purpose.  

 Dilks addressed his letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Congressman John Lewis. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer Dilks has raised $1,200 in campaign contributions while Norcross, the brother of George Norcross, the powerful South Jersey political boss, has raised $1.6 million.

In today's political climate you would think the National Republican Committee would be spending money on Dilks' campaign. But that is not case. According to Dilks he has reached out to that committee and has yet to receive a response. When asked about the GOP not supporting him he said, "George Norcross is a long time friend of President Donald Trump. That might be one of the reasons why."

Dilks' letter appears below.  

Dear Secretary Carson, Speaker Ryan, and Congressman Lewis:

As you may know, a community block grant in the amount of $229,035 was recently allocated by the Housing and Urban Development Department for the preservation and restoration of a home at 753 Walnut Street once used by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Camden, NJ.

The area Congressman, Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), had lobbied for the funding and took credit for securing the funding at an event with Congressman Lewis in September of 2016.  At that time, Rep. Norcross said, "I'm proud that I was able to bring our community together to help restore and save this important piece of American History.”

Moreover, Congressman Lewis declared the house to be a “piece of historic real estate that must be saved for generations yet unborn.” 

 Unfortunately – and despite the gravitas lent by Congressman Lewis’s involvement in this important matter – reports indicate that the money has been misappropriated and that none of it was used or reserved for the purpose of preserving the home.

The home was also to be gifted by its current owner, Lily Hunt – an 87-year old woman – for the nominal transaction fee of $1 to a non-profit organization, Cooper's Ferry, which was to have been responsible for restoring the home.  To date, Cooper’s Ferry has not taken possession of the home and has, in fact, left the owner saddled with taxes she never intended to bear after the agreement had been made to gift the home to Cooper’s Ferry.

As reports on this matter have come to light, Camden City spokesman Vincent Basara, was quoted as saying it's not uncommon for money granted for one purpose to be diverted to a different end. 

Meanwhile, Superior Court Judge Deborah Silverman Katz at a court hearing on the matter on May 4th of this year said she was "dismayed" that the money meant for the rehabilitation was not used for that purpose.  

The problem I have with all of this is not only that 87-year-old Lily Hunt has been rendered an innocent victim precluded from protecting the legacy of her father and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as she intended, but we as taxpayers have been victimized by the misappropriation of the funds.

This sorted saga appears to be just another example of taxpayer money being misused and misdirected by the City of Camden and the Norcross Family with Cooper's Ferry, being a reported as a tax shelter for corporations, stuck in the middle.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident.  It has been reported over the years that companies affiliated with and/or controlled by the Norcross family have benefited in the hundreds of millions of dollars in misallocations of taxpayer money.  Examples include:

- Conner Strong -- $256,000,000

- Holtec International -- $260,000,000

- Lockheed Martin -- $107,000,000

- American Water Company -- $164,000,000

In light of this troubling history, given the importance of preserving this historic home, and recognizing the taxpayers’ right to know that money appropriated for a particular cause is not subsequently diverted to secret, unsubstantiated, or potentially improper purposes, I respectfully ask that the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the appropriate congressional oversight committees, and any other watchdog entity with jurisdiction look into the distribution of this grant money as soon as possible as well as every other grant where funds may have been mis-directed to the detriment of South Jersey taxpayers.

Very respectfully,

Paul E. Dilks

C: Hon. Donald Norcross

Congressman for the First Congressional District of the State of New Jersey

U.S. House of Representatives

1531 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515

RELATED: Former Gloucester City Resident Paul Dilks Announces Run for the First Congressional District

Congressman Donald Norcross