Legislative leaders have trouble filling ethics committee seats

The Senate and Assembly both passed laws disbanding and reforming the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards earlier this year.  But so far, only two of the new committee’s eight seats have been filled.

That’s because it’s hard to find people interested or eligible to serve, according to Rick Wright, executive director of the Assembly Republicans.

“We are going to make appointments, but like everyone else we’re having a hard time finding people,” he said.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards has been widely considered a joke for most of its existence.  It averaged one sanction against a legislator every 10 years during its nearly four decade lifespan.  Meanwhile, filing toothless complaints with the committee became standard fare during the legislative campaign season, when candidates or their allies would file a complaint against an opponent and then issue press releases trumpeting it.

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Aron takes over as NJN news director

NJN announced today that Senior Political Correspondent Michael Aron will serve as the network’s Interim Director of News and Public Affairs.

Aron takes over for Bill Jobes, who’s retiring after holding the post for 21 years.

In addition to appearing on NJN’s newscasts, Aron hosts and produces Reporters Roundtable. He often hosts and co-produces On the Record.

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Christie disappointed with James' sentence; thought ex-mayor should serve more time

U.S. Attorney Chris Christie: Politicker file photoU.S. Attorney Chris Christie: Politicker file photo 

NEWARK - U.S. Attorney Chris Christie rejoiced following the federal sentencing of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James today, but also acknowledged that a U.S. District Judge’s decision fell far short of what Christie and his prosecution team had sought.

He strove to focus on the positive.

"In seven weeks, Sharpe James will report to federal prison for one reason and one reason only: he is a criminal," Christie told reporters. "He is a federal felon."

Then he turned to U.S. District Judge William Martini’s imposition of a 27-month sentence on James instead of federal prosecutors’ suggestions of a 15-20 year penalty.

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James gets 27 months

NEWARK - Citing violation of the public trust but noting the former mayor's overall effectiveness while in office, District Court Judge William J. Martini sentenced Sharpe James today to 27 months in prison, and a fine of $100,000.

His former girlfriend, Tamika Riley, received 15 months for her role in the corruption case.

In his sum-up, the judge reproved the prosecution for taking a heavy-handed and "inflammatory" approach to James's penalty, saying his imposition of what they hoped would be a maximum sentence of 15-20 years would be an "extreme injustice."

"It disappoints me and it shocks me that government would seek 10-20 year sentencing," Martini said. "I know in the zeal of prosecution, things sometimes get distorted. ...If the intent was to advocate for a big sentence to put this court on the spot, I'm not concerned with that, nor was it effective.

"It makes me question some of the perspectives here," added Martini, who also described as "unhelpful" letters he had received calling for the maximum penalty.

He said he struck the proper balance on a "sad day."

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Hsing in 7th District House race as an independent

Update: Lance campaign response now included.

The Bridgewater Courier-News recently got wind of an overlooked story.

Bridgewater Councilman Michael Hsing, who cast his lot in with many other candidates in the 7th District Republican congressional primary, is running in the general election as an independent. And as of the last Federal Election Commission filing, he had more cash-on-hand than the Republican nominee, State Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Flemington).

Hsing, who’s served on the Bridgewater council for seven years, failed to make a dent in the primary, and decided to forego the nominating convention of his home county of Somerset. Lance, now the Republican nominee, won. Back then, PolitickerNJ’s Max Pizarro reported on rumors swirling about an independent Hsing bid, since he refused to endorse any of the other candidates. At the time, Hsing said “that will be determined and disclosed later."

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State investigated Internet porn in legislative office before, OLS chief says

State investigated Internet porn in legislative office before, OLS chief says

The Office of Legislative Services investigated pornography on Neil Cohen's office computer last yearThe Office of Legislative Services investigated pornography on Neil Cohen's office computer last year
Office of Legislative Services (OLS) Executive Director Albert Porroni confirmed that his office had received a call from District 20 legislators about "salacious material" found on the office's computer system long before pornographic images of minors were allegedly found on Neil Cohen's legislative office computer.

Porroni said that he could not recall the exact time frame of the complaint, but sources tell PolitickerNJ.com that it was made approximately one year ago.

At least one pornographic web site was accessed from a District 20 legislative office computer, and State Sen. Raymond Lesniak and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan had suspected Cohen, sources say. The web site was not suspected of having child pornography, however.

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Martini clashes with prosecutor in James sentencing

NEWARK - Facing an increasingly indignant district judge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Germano said she wants 15-20 years, or the maximum penalty for former Newark Mayor Sharpe James.

"Your Honor, committing crimes does not come with an AARP card, this is not the movies," Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Germano said, referring to the 72-year old James. "He was healthy enough to travel to the Dominican Republic with Tamika Riley."

Judge William Martini objected to that last point, which is not part of this case, he argued. In an increasingly angry tone, he also challenged Germano’s more general references to James.

"You throw out a person’s entire history because of one instance in his life where he committed a wrong?" Martini wanted to know.

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The Back Room

Trenton mayor's race: Worthy campaign funds surge according to filed ELEC report

Trenton mayoral candidate Walker M. Worthy, Jr. raised more than $75,000 during the most recent fundraising period, boosting his total campaign contributions to date to close to $110,000, according to a written statement issued by his campaign. 

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 15, 2014

East Side Neighborhood Association hosts packed Paterson Mayor's Forum PATERSON – On the eastern end of Market Street stands a restaurant amid the clinging remnants of industry and a city’s trampled history, where inside under chandeliers in front of a crowd of 100 people, seven candidates for mayor made...

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Op-Ed

Ryan's Budget Plan

BY ALBIO SIRES This week, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), released yet again another budget with misplaced priorities that will slow our economic recovery and destroy American jobs.  Rather than address the priorities of the... Read More >

Contributors

(4-16-14) New Jersey Vote By Mail Law - The voter turnout for New Jersey’s November gubernatorial election was the lowest since the days of prohibition, coming... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »
Watching Governor Chris Christie's shocking BridgeGate implosion, it's easy to forget the time when he truly seemed unstoppable.  Blessed with incredible political gifts and a Jersey bluster to match,... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"A break-in occurred early this morning at the offices owned by Carl Sharif and two others at 660 Stuyvesant Ave. in Irvington, New Jersey. Several items are reported missing, including two laptop computers owned by Carl Sharif. There is also reported damage in the building. The Irvington police were called and a report was filed." - Jeffries campaign spokeswoman Lupe Todd

- PolitickerNJ.com

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