By Michael M. Shapiro
During the recent trial of David Delle Donna, the Mayor of Guttenberg, New Jersey, one of Governor Corzine’s deputy chiefs of staff, Javier Inclan, testified that he passed envelopes from a bar owner to the Mayor, which he believed to be filled with illegal cash campaign contributions. The Mayor and his wife were convicted on extortion and tax-related charges after being charged with accepting $40,000 worth of illegal gifts from that bar owner.
Is Mr. Inclan being charged, fired, or demoted in some manner? No. Instead, the Governor publicly commended him and a day later, Mr. Inclan resigned, with his pension and benefits fully intact. Yes, you read me right. Rather than publicly admonish Mr. Inclan for his role in this political corruption, the Governor, through his spokesman, Lilo Stanton, stated, “The governor commends Javier his effort and he believes it takes courage to testify in this trial…Javier was testifying in the case for the prosecution against someone who was clearly a convicted felon.” While it may take courage to testify in this trial, should the Governor be commending his deputy chief of staff for doing what any citizen should be doing anyway? Given Mr. Inclan’s role in the whole affair, it would seem that testifying was the very least he could do to aid the prosecution.
Moreover, for a Governor who has pledged that ethics reform would be a top priority and has consistently asked the media and the public to hold him accountable, it would appear that he is off base. The public is disconcerted by political appointees and elected officials who engage in shady conduct without disciplinary action. It is more ghastly when shady conduct is rewarded with a commendation from the highest elected official in New Jersey.
Mr. Inclan may have done nothing legally or ethically wrong. Then again, he may have. In any event, he does not deserve commendation for testifying at the trial of a corrupt mayor, and certainly not from the Governor of our State who professes to be a clean government reformer.
Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com. Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org
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