NJ Working Families is inviting you to show up with them Tuesday at the NJ Ethics Commission to tell them to focus on ethics issues arising from the interrelated Christie administration scandals. The group filed a complaint last month against David Samson, whose law firm and clients benefitted enormously from the time the Christie confidante was given the job of Port Authority chair, which he’s since resigned. They complain the Ethics panel will instead address a 5 year old case against a union rep, Dudley Burdge; persecution of union workers, they say, instead of tackling the corruption at the top.
What: Demonstration at State Ethics Commission
Where: 28 West State Street, Trenton
When: Tuesday, April 22nd at 9:30am
In the unfolding Christie scandals being investigated at both the federal and state level, two kinds of issues emerge, and they intertwine. One is the question of whether laws have been broken, and who broken them when. In the Bridgegate scandal, in which Christie appointees used an apparent cover-up story of a “traffic study” to explain the deliberate 5-day traffic snarl in North Jersey with top Christie appointees and Christie himself furthering that fiction, we have Port Authority Pat Foye raising red flags early saying the lane closures likely broke both federal and state law. And now we know that early this month U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman has convened a grand jury, which means that part of the federal investigation has moved past the inquiry stage and into a criminal investigation. The Hoboken allegations are quieter, in terms of breaking news that reaches the national level, but the potential legal ramifications huge. Both the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office are involved, and the legal issues may include criminal bribery, extortion, racketeering conspiracy charges.
But intertwined with all of the legal issues are questions of ethical conduct. The Ethics Commission is supposed to be a neutral watchdog, to keep public officials honest. But as the Ledger reports it is instead a body plagued by cronyism, its destroyed by Christie, with even a former Christie staffer placed as its Director.
The Ethics Commission has the power to impose heavy fines, bar people from public office, and in some cases send them to jail. Working Families wants to see if it has the teeth to swing that that spotlight and those powers to examine what’s been going on in the highest reaches of the Christie administration.