The Democratic leadership in the New Jersey legislature this week declared their intentions for the New Year, announcing that the issues of loophole-free pay to play reform, a wheeling ban, clean elections renewal, overhaul of the legislative ethics committee, and a new legislative ethics code would take precedence with the upcoming legislative session, starting Jan. 8.
“We’ve got a combination of experienced veterans and bright new leaders ready and eager to tackle the challenges that lie ahead,” said Senate President Richard Codey, D-Essex, in a statement. “We’ve made great progress, but there’s still a lot more work to be done. Now it’s time to get to it. Tougher campaign finance and ethics laws are a fundamental component of a more transparent and efficient government.”
Wheeling and pay to play reform should take special precedence, considering how both practices continue to riddle many levels of state government and sour the taste of state government in the mouths of taxpayers.
Trenton sees plenty of both, with men like Robert Torricelli – who have real campaign donation links to numerous members of Trenton city government – regularly receiving lucrative awards of city funds, through City Council resolutions awarding cash to development projects in which “the Torch” has an interest.
Just look at the presence of foreign Camden County law firms performing legal work for the City of Trenton for exorbitant moneys and understand that the practice of wheeling is alive and well in Trenton and the rest of New Jersey.
In the past, city legal work was done in-house through the City Attorney’s office, but now law firms making donations in far-away places in New Jersey are rewarded with contracts in places like Trenton.
Just follow the money.