While New Jersey suffered from a crippling structural deficit, politicians created a slush fund to dole out tax dollars for their own personal gain.
Last week at the corruption trial of disgraced former state Sen. Wayne Bryant, a Democratic legislative aide testified that Bryant and other legislators were given complete discretion over the allocation of millions of dollars in the state budget -- from a fund that was supposed to be distributed based on a competitive, merit-based application process. Prosecutors allege that Bryant directed some of his share to the School of Osteopathic Medicine at UMDNJ in exchange for a no-show, pension-boosting job.
The separation of powers were non-existent in 2005 when the budget's $40 million slush fund was proposed by then-acting Gov. Dick Codey and ushered through the legislature by Senate President Codey (a prior budget from then-Gov. Jim McGreevey also included such a fund). Governor Jon Corzine shut the scheme down within months of taking office after conducting an internal investigation, the results of which are still not public.
As if channeling President Bush and his tired excuse of an "ongoing investigation," Codey declined to comment on the issue, claiming his lawyers advised him not to talk about it until after the end of the corruption trial of state Senator Joe Coniglio...which isn't slated to even begin until March 2009.
What happened to the outgoing Governor Codey of 2006 who in an exit letter lamented: "The public can handle a lot more straight talk than people think"?
Codey's not giving it to us straight, and I'm calling his bluff. It's unfathomable that someone can't or won't explain how they're spending their boss' money. But here we have an elected official who can't answer basic questions about a budget he proposed, pushed through the Senate and signed into law.
It doesn't really matter what his lawyers think is best for him -- it's our money and as the person in charge of one and a half branches of government at the time, he owes us an explanation for how it was spent.
Despite the dark cloud hanging over Codey, perhaps he has some legitimate legal reason not to address the issue. Even so, for the good of the state, he should step aside as Senate President until he can provide a full explanation.
Juan Melli is Politicker.com's associate editor.
The Star-Ledger will make a "significant announcement" to employees early next month, according to a source.Read More >
Fight of the Week: Donovan v. Pascrell Fight of the Week Bergen County Executive Kathe Donovan v. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ) http://www.politickernj.com/79736/fight-week-donovan-v-pascrell Paramus mayor's race: Candidates in closely-divided Bergen borough spar over taxes, towing issues PARAMUS - When voters go to the polls in November...
By Jeff Brindle An August 15, 2014 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Chesler reaffirmed the place of political parties in the State’s electoral system. By rejecting arguments that unaffiliated voters should have a right to vote in... Read More >
"But things get touchy between LaBarbiera and LoCicero when it comes to taxes, the bete noire of politics in the statewide election bellwether, Bergen County."- PolitickerNJ
Press releases are submitted by PolitickerNJ users, not by staff. They do not represent the viewpoint of PolitickerNJ.com.