Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kean Wants Tough New Local Ethics Oversight

Responding to a report issued by State Comptroller Matthew Boxer detailing how a Chesterfield Township Committeeman exploited his position to reap a $200,000 windfall on the sale of development rights on his property, New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. is calling for the Senate to consider legislation he is sponsoring to tighten local government ethics oversight.

“This case of alleged self-dealing by an elected official exposes a need for greater accountability at the local level,” said Kean. “In addition to, as the Comptroller recommends, subjecting local government officials to the same penalties as state officials for violating ethics laws, we should also bring adjudication of such local conflicts of interest the same agency as those occurring at the state level.”

Currently, ethics violations by municipal or school board officials are subject to a set of smaller monetary penalties than those involving state officials, and are adjudicated by the Department of Community Affairs or Department of Education, respectively.

Senator Kean is the sponsor of S-2068, which enhances local government accountability in the following ways:

  • Gives the State Ethics Board jurisdiction over conflicts of interest law involving municipal government officials, removing such cases from DCA and DOE.
  • As recommended by the Comptroller, subjects local government officials to the same schedule of monetary penalties as those faced by state officials for violations of the New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law.
  • Requires the State Ethics Commission to promulgate financial disclosure forms for municipal and school board officials.
“Fragmented ethics oversight that subjects different levels of government to different standards is a recipe for violating the public trust,” Kean continued. “My legislation subjects the government closest to the people- local government- to the higher ethical standards required of state officials and streamlines enforcement of conflicts of interest laws. As the legislative session for 2013 ramps up, I call on the Senate President to ensure that this legislation is given consideration and a vote our colleagues.”

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