"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ethics Complaints

Back in March, Bob Ingle discovered Democrats had a state-paid intern going through years of financial-disclosure forms from state legislators. Republicans suspected the effort was an election-year opposition research project being conducted at taxpayer expense. Back then, Democrats claimed the intern was looking for ways to strengthen disclosure.

Yesterday, Democrats exposed the real purpose of the project. Two County Democratic Party Chairmen have filed ethics complaints against seven Republican legislators “as current events on Legislative conflicts gave me cause to review the relevant files and the information contained herein only recently came to light”. In other words, taxpayers paid the research tab for a partisan stunt. Is that ethical or even legal?

Clearly, the Democrats are out for revenge to counter the growing list of Democrats who have been investigated, indicted and convicted for public corruption by the U.S. Attorney’s office, led by Chris Christie. If that was the goal, their little project was a bust.

The complaints, which may be read here, allege the lawmakers “may have advocated for” a number of state grants from 2000 through 2002. “Based on financial disclosure forms” the complaints identify employers and charity affiliations for the legislators and in some instances for their family members. Missing from the complaints are specific conflicts of interest or cases of personal financial gain tied to the state grants.

Not surpassingly, the ethics complaints were filed by two attorneys, Richard J. Perr and Elia A. Pelios, both with their own pipelines into state and local coffers.

Perr is a partner at the law firm Fineman Krekstein & Harris and an adjunct professor Rutgers School of Law - Camden. In his spare time, Perr is also the Burlington County Democratic Party Chairman.

The second complaining attorney, Elia A. Pelios, works for the law firm Ventantonio & Wildenhain, is Commissioner/President of the Somerset County Board of Taxation and President of the New Jersey Association of County Tax Boards. In his spare time, Pelios is also the Somerset County Democratic Party Chairman.

New Jersey’s Attorney General, Stuart Rabner should investigate these two with their tangled financial, political and government connections - that’s if he can spare a few minutes away from his all important Corzine seatbelt case.

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3 Comments:

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Leiter for Senate said...

This is why you're the best, Enlighten! Nobody exposes these frauds better than you.

Dino

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger Trochilus said...

Excellent catch, Enlighten!

And if the Attorney General just leafs back through the files a few short years, he will come to a published document by then-Attorney General Robert DelTufo which, among other things, specifically admonished the Senate Democrat staff, who were state-employees, for having engaged in partisan political campaign activity while on State time. They were running what they termed a “coordinated campaign,” that even involved assistance to Senator Lautenberg and Congressman Pallone.

That A.G. document outlined the specific activities and prohibitions, as well as the relevant law on the subject. And, it was specifically intended to serve as an unmistakable marker for the future to prevent such abuse from partisan staff members. It urged the adoption of guidelines for partisan staffs, which are today embodied in the "Joint Rules of the Senate and General Assembly, part, G., paragraphs 31 – 34. Partisan Staff Conduct and Resources."

The water’s edge with those rules, though, is with campaign-related activity. Campaign work, under those rules, is:

"[w]ork that does not reasonably fulfill the employee’s official duties and materially contributes to: (1) a person’s chance of election or re-election to public or party office, or (2) the financial prospects or the electoral advantage of a political party or candidate."

Though the rules were adopted by both Houses of the legislature, with jurisdiction over enforcement in the Joint Ethics Committee, it is not outside the jurisdiction of the Attorney General to enforce New Jersey law as relates to misuse of public funds.

 
At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Oliver said...

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