State legislators better move quickly to pass the ethics reform legislation proposed last week by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.
It appears that residents in New Jersey could soon become sufficiently fed up with the constant presence of corrupting campaign contributions and the endless parade of corruption convictions to organize and oust some complacent legislators in the 2009 elections.
Detractors say Gov. Corzine’s reform push, which came in the form of four executive orders and some legislative proposals, is nothing more than a last-minute political move to deliver on the governor’s unfulfilled campaign promises while stealing the corruption-fighting spotlight away from his likely Republican opponent, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.
But detractors such as these should probably understand that at this point the Garden State’s residents probably care less about the political motivations behind the governor’s initiatives and more about whether they actually get passed by the current state Assembly and Senate.
As the issue has come more and more into the public perception, there has been a constant call for an end or at least a significant reduction in the practices of pay-to-play and wheeling.
These shameful practices involve the delivery of lucrative government contracts to campaign contributors, and the practice of moving campaign cash back and forth between state political organizations in order to circumvent existing campaign finance law.
Evidence of how serious this issue has become can be seen in the constant parade of editorials and the emergence of grassroots campaigns and non-profit organizations, all aligned against these practices.
The issue’s seriousness can also be gauged by the nearly constant passage of local pay-to-play restrictions in state municipalities and counties.
But despite the severity of the problem, neither party‘s officials have successfully delivered on any promises to get the corrupting influence of money out of New Jersey politics, whether in power or not.
Each party has instead moved to do little except make lofty, unfulfilled promises while undertaking a series of half-steps and half-measures that allow most of the corrupting influence of money to continue, and New Jersey residents are rightfully getting sick of it.
Legislators, however preoccupied with the current economic crisis, must ensure that real, bona fide ethics reforms are passed into as soon as possible, regardless of the potential political motivations of advocates like Gov. Corzine and others.
Voters are equally responsible for the current situation through their continued support for do-nothing officials of both parties, but they need to stand strong and vote for whichever candidates deliver on ethics reform regardless of party loyalty.
New Jersey is sinking under the weight of corruption, and even crafty politicians like Gov. Corzine are right when they that it’s time to do something about it.