Pallone wants Justice Department to review prosecutor's attendance at Christie party

Pallone wants Justice Department to review prosecutor's attendance at Christie party
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown with her former boss, Chris Christie, at a forum at Fairleigh Dickinson University last year.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) wants the Justice Department to look into First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown's attendance at a social/political gathering at the home of Christopher Christie, a former federal prosecutor seeking the GOP nomination for Governor.  Pallone wants Acting U.S. Attorney General Mark Filip to determine if Brown had permission to attend the event and if it violated any laws or guidelines regarding prosecutors at her level.

Pallone says the January 25 party at Christie's Mendham home "was an organized function of Mr. Christie's political campaign, and not simply a social gathering.  It included, among other things, speeches from prominent Republican fundraisers about campaign fundraising strategy, as well as remarks from key personnel of Mr. Christie's political campaign and Mr. Christie himself about campaign strategy for his candidacy for governor."

"Given the many examples of misconduct and excess over the last few years at the Justice Department, it is clear that such confidence has been shaken and considerable work needs to be done to ensure that we once again have faith that our laws are faithfully executed and justice is administered fairly and without regard to political consideration," wrote Pallone, who is also seeking a review of DOJ gudelines so that senior members of the U.S. Attorney's staff do not become part of a campaign infrastructure.

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, said that Brown did nothing wrong.

“We are not required to act like cloistered drones when it comes to the political process and, with some obvious restrictions, we are allowed to associate with and support campaigns and make political contributions if we so choose  -- just like all Americans," Drewniak said. "I would refer you and anyone else who is genuinely interested to read the rules governing our conduct in this regard.”

Pallone's full letter to Filip:

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Redd running for Camden mayor

Redd running for Camden mayor
State Sen. Dana Redd (D-Camden)

TRENTON - State Sen. Dana Redd (D-Camden) will run for mayor of Camden and plans to kick off her campaign this Saturday, Feb. 7th, she told PolitickerNJ.com.

Now serving her first term as senator, Redd, 40, is concurrently serving as vice president of the Camden City Council. She said she hopes to be able to work out a deal with Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, 82, who has served as Camden's chief elected official since 2000.

"I've had discussions with Mayor Faison and we're trying to put together a unity slate," said Redd. "I'm hoping she endorses me."

Faison's office issued a statement this afternoon.

The mayor has not officially made a decision about whether she intends to run for re-election.

"It's time to stop fighting and serve the people," Faison said.

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Kaiser leaves top BCUA post

Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA) Executive Director Leonard Kaiser – a business partner in the grants consulting firm at the center of the indictments of former Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joe Ferriero and former party counsel Dennis Oury – retired yesterday for “personal reasons,” according to a press release issued by the agency.   

That marks the third recent resignation for Kaiser, whose home was raided by the FBI in November.  He also left his position on the Meadowlands Commission and as president of the North Arlington Education Foundation. 

In a statement, Kaiser said that he had been planning to retire for three years.

“I have spent 34 years in public service – as a councilman, a freeholder, a mayor and a county government official. It’s been an honor for me to have these opportunities and I am grateful to all those who have aided and supported me in all of those endeavors,” he said.

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So far, GOP has one candidate in 38th

Ridgefield Councilman Nicholas Lonzisero has filed a letter of intent with the Bergen County Republican Organization to run for assembly in Legislative District 38, according to the party's chairman, Bob Yudin.

So far, no other Republicans have come forward to run in the Democratic-leaning district, which some members of the party think maybe, just maybe could be put in play in light of the state's economic woes and the pending federal corruption trials of former State Sen. Joseph Coniglio (D-Paramus) and ex-Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero.

"We're actively recruiting now," said Yudin.

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Scutari wants longer terms, O'Toole likes limits, Weinberg wants reapportionment

Scutari wants longer terms, O'Toole likes limits, Weinberg wants reapportionment
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union)

TRENTON- State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) wants to change terms for members of the state Senate from four to five years, and when he opens the item up to discussion on the Senate State Government Committee, state Sen. Whip Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex) goes in the opposite direction by broaching the issue of term limits.

“You can’t say New Jersey is a success story,” O’Toole says. “This committee has the opportunity to do something bold."

State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) doesn’t immediately align herself with O’Toole’s suggestion, but does question lengthening the terms of service of legislators.  She worries about creating even more insular elected offices.

“When you extend the term, you only let the incumbent continue that (natural incumbent) advantage,” Beck says.  “The way our districts are crafted now, it’s very difficult to overturn an incumbent. You have to have a safeguard that you’re not simply crafting a way for those in office to simply stay in office.”

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Test WUC on live monday again

For now, 'I'm from New Jersey' derails four-song package of proposed state songs

For now, 'I'm from New Jersey' derails four-song package of proposed state songs
Songwriter Red Mascara

TRENTON - In 1960, Gov. Robert Meyner complained that New Jersey didn’t have an official state song that bands could play when he appeared, so songwriter Red Mascara wrote “I’m from New Jersey,” he tells the Senate State Government Committee.

Mascara’s state song passed both houses of the Legislature in 1972, however, the governor never signed the measure into law and Mascara’s ode to the Garden State dangled into history.

Now, as the state senate committee considers the passage of four official state songs packaged in a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May), an elderly Mascara fights for the inclusion of his song in the official canon.

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