For the past two years, New Jersey has not had an Attorney General. John Hoffman was elevated to the post of Acting Attorney General when Governor Christie appointed Jeff Chiesa to the United States Senate to fill the seat of Frank Lautenberg.
The Attorney General is supposed to be the people’s top government attorney, not the governor’s. The Governor has his own chief counsel whose office is in the same State House suite as Christie’s.
Government is based on checks and balances, and in New Jersey the Senate vets the governor’s nominee for AG. But Christie has circumvented the state constitution by leaving Hoffman in the acting position for far too long.
Hoffman’s lack of concern for the people he is supposed to be working for is exemplified by his stubborn defense of the Exxon Mobil giveaway settlement. Instead of defending the governor’s blunder, he should be advocating for the people and the environment in New Jersey.
In many states, the people elect the Attorney General. But that’s not the solution to our problem. With money rather than principle being the prime factor in our electoral process, an elected AG would turn into an auction, with the job going to the highest bidder.
Governor Christie should obey the letter and the spirit of the state constitution and submit a nominee to the state senate for vetting. Whether it’s Hoffman or someone else, the nominee would receive a hearing and be questioned by both parties. Public input would also be part of the process. That’s the way the system is supposed to work. At least that’s how it should work for a chief executive who respects the constitution and the rule of law.