The Republican Party in New Jersey is looking really good these days, not necessarily because of its stances on issues or the bills it has sponsored, but due to the recalcitrant actions of the Democrats.
Recently, Democrats in the State House have been resistant to cooperate with an extended federal subpoena into the files, memos, e-mails and other documents kept by the Office of Legislative Services (OLS). The subpoena’s main purpose is to look into how millions of public funds were distributed over the last three years.
Why on earth would the Democrats stonewall an investigation unless they have something to hide?
The subpoena itself stems from the probe of Democratic State Sen. Wayne Bryant. U.S. Attorney Chris Christie has been able to expose several legislators and public officials like Bryant who try to circumvent the law.
Dubbed “the king of double dipping,” Bryant has been charged with several corruption allegations. Since the public has found out about his egregious behavior, Bryant has shed three of his public jobs.
Bryant was able to rack up $83,696 in retirement benefits from his public positions. One of those included his “no show” job at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, where he spent less than the minimum one hour per week at the job.
At the same time he funneled $12.5 million to the university through his position in the Senate as the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee (SBC), which he was later forced to step down from in disgrace.
Bryant was also able to award $2.75 million in state grants to his home town of Lawnside, where his law partner resides and his brother is the mayor.
Through his position as the former chairman of the SBC, he was able to slip undisclosed pork into the budget to benefit his own town, as well as give several clients of his private law firm similar special grants (totaling over $7 million to just two clients).
There is a likely chance more iniquitous behavior has yet to be unraveled. The fact that the OLS is fending off any investigation can only mean one thing: there is more dishonest, self-serving politics waiting to be found.
The Democrats and the OLS are claiming the records are protected by the attorney-client privilege because they deal with advice requested by lawmakers or staffers. There may be an attorney-client privilege, but we’re dealing with public lawyers and a public government.
Citizens should know what is going on within their government. What happened to the Democrats’ position on supporting a transparent government? Apparently, they are not for it when it may hurt them.
Republican Assemblyman Kevin O’Toole put it best, saying, “This is an investigation into the potential abuse of the people’s money, and the (OLS) and Democrat legislative leaders should not stand in the way.” This is New Jersey citizens’ money. The people have a right to know how, where and why their hard-earned dollars were spent.
The Democrats’ only other argument is that the subpoena is not related to broader research on the Legislature. Sure, is that why Christie just issued subpoenas to all of the major legislative leaders in both the Assembly and Senate to see how they handed out funds? Of course this is about the Legislature!
Every year, the Legislature awards millions in state grants with very little public scrutiny or oversight. This pork-barrel spending, known in New Jersey as “Christmas tree items,” more than doubled in the last five years, totaling about $350 million. This money always goes to the party in power, the Democrats. The Democrats’ effort at blocking the public’s inquiry into tax-dollar expenditures is undemocratic.
The Republican Party is completely united in opposing the OLS’s decision on preventing the federal subpoena. In fact, Republicans on the Legislative Services Commission did not even know that the Democrats sought to battle the subpoena until the public knew. It is clear that Republicans are the true backers of ethics reform while the Democrats try to buttress their immoral ways and fight off real change.
Engulfed in this bleak situation is shimmering hope for reform. With Republicans portrayed as the “good guys” in this ordeal, the 2007 state-wide elections will surely be exciting.
The Democrats and their weak property tax relief plan, consistently embarrassing corruption scandals and overall ineptitude at leading the great state of New Jersey may tip the scales for the GOP. Hopefully, voters will realize that the Republicans are the only chance for ushering in real change in New Jersey government.
In this upcoming state election, New Jersey may lose some of its blue color and take in some shades of red. One can only hope the Republicans can become the majority in a state that has suffered due to the idiotic and hypocritical nature of the Democrats.
Information from – The Star-Ledger