Corzine Announces Sweeping Ethics Reform Package

TRENTON – Gov. Jon Corzine delivered an ethics reform package Wednesday that he says will promote ethical and fiscal responsibility. The governor originally promised to make a commitment to a more open, honest and accountable government during the 2005 campaign.

Governor Jon Corzine announces sweeping ethics reform package on the statehouse steps in Trenton on Wednesday, Sept. 24. (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

“We have an absolute responsibility to give our citizens the most we can from their tax dollars,” said Corzine.  “This is about ethics in government, which is fundamental.  But it’s also about fiscal responsibility, which is essential in light of today’s economic and financial crisis.”

“Today we are taking bold action,” said the governor.  “We are finishing what we’ve started, to end the insider deals, influence peddling and self-interest of old politics.  This reform will end pay-to-play once and for all, at all levels of government.”

Corzine signed two executive orders designed to close loopholes in the pay-to-play ban and impose a new and impose a new ban on pay-to-play for all state redevelopment contracts.  The governor also signed a third executive order to create a task force to recommend ways to strengthen local government ethics and improve enforcement, compliance and training.

Many of the proposed reforms require legislative action and the governor plans to seek comprehensive legislation to enact those reforms.  The governor’s ethics reform package would close loopholes in the pay-to-play law that applies to county and local governments and also ban wheeling.

“Earlier this year, Senate President Codey and Speaker Roberts voiced their support for banning pay-to-play at every level of government,” said Corzine.  “They also included a wheeling ban on the reform agenda they announced earlier this year, and it is included in today’s package.  I commend them for their efforts and anticipate they will be able to work with their Republican partners in the legislature to get these reform measures passed.  These reforms should be a bi-partisan effort.”

Corzine’s proposals for legislative action also include extending pay-to-play reform to school districts and regional utility authorities; banning no-bid contracts and reforming existing government contracts law; lowering contribution limits to county committees and requiring greater disclosure for 527s and similar entities; and making the State Ethics Committee an all-public member body.

“We have reached a point where New Jerseyans have come to believe that instead of government of, by and for the people, we have a government of, by and for political contributors, lobbyists and those who at every level pay to play,” Corzine said.  “Today, that era ends.  Today, we set the stage for New Jersey to once again be a model for others.  The great people of this state deserve nothing less.”


Too Little, Too Late

Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s package of ethics reform measures are “too little, too late,” according to a Democratic strategist who says it is time for progressive New Jersey voters to start shopping for an alternative candidate to run in next June’s primary election.

“Gov. Corzine promised to be a different kind of senator and governor, but he is as addicted to politics as he is disinterested in substantive policy,” said James J. Devine, who was political director at the Democratic State Committee in 1992-93 and not heads a group called Reform Democratic Organization for Union County. “New Jersey Democrats are not getting their money’s worth from this former Wall Street executive.”

An alternative Democratic nominee would give voters a chance to gauge the incumbent’s performance on the state’s financial condition, hospital closings, official corruption, and a host of other areas where Devine says, “Corzine has failed New Jersey.”

“Instead of putting people first, Corzine, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs, has surrounded himself with Wall Street veterans and political bosses who have only concerned themselves with money,” said Devine.

“Instead of putting a value on people and services we need to enjoy life in New Jersey, Jon Corzine followed his Wall Street instinct and tried to borrow $40 billion,” said Devine. “We need a Democratic governor who shares our values on education, health care, jobs and the economy, and the time is now for real Democrats to come forward to draft a leader to help take back our party from Wall Street and the mob.”

“Corzine’s property tax proposals and plans for selling or leasing state assets, along with his record of closing hospitals and cheating poor school districts, show that under the liberal rhetoric lies a cold-hearted stock manipulator and nothing more,” said Devine.  “As for guilt by association, Jon Corzine condemned himself by cozying up to John Lynch, Sharpe James, Joe Ferriero, Joe Cryan, Ray Lesniak, Wayne Bryant, Carla Katz, Xanadu developers and many others.”

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