Assemblyman Joseph Cryan is apparently abusing his legislative office by having government staff perform work related to his capacity as state Democratic Party chairman, specifically to recruit personnel for some Monmouth County government jobs.
According to e-mails obtained by Monmouth County Freeholder Robert D. Clifton, Cryan’s legislative office staff in Union contacted the state Department of Personnel and the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics about finding candidates for the positions of chief financial officer, directors of the human resources and human services departments, and a new post, inspector general.
Clifton, a Republican, has cried foul and helped push through administrative changes to prevent the new Democratic majority on that county’s freeholder board from hiring personnel in the four jobs.
Clifton may not be a solid ground in trying to change the rules before a new majority takes over county government but it must be an ethical conflict to employ legislative staff at taxpayer expense in performing political tasks related to Cryan’s role as chairman of a partisan political organization.
Dave Jenkins, Cryan’s legislative aide, is paid at taxpayer expense but seeking out prospects for patronage jobs in Monmouth County would be a purely partisan activity.
This is tantamount to using public employees for personal benefit, and it is unethical behavior that is typical of Cryan and symptomatic of what’s wrong with New Jersey.
With up to $500,000 in combined annual salaries, filling these Monmouth County government jobs may potentially be within the purview of the state Democratic Party. They are not legitimate concerns for the General Assembly or Cryan’s constituents in Union County.
Democratic Freeholders John D’Amico Jr., Amy Mallet and Barbara J. McMorrow must consider how they want to govern now that they have control of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders.
Mallet and her running mate raised $274,000 and a comparable amount was invested in previous years by politicians who hope to exploit this situation for themselves.
These Democratic Freeholders may hand out county jobs as political payoffs to Cryan and his master, Sen. Raymond Lesniak, or they may use their new power to truly lead the county in a new direction.
Cryan and Lesniak helped raise large sums for Monmouth Democrats, obviously hoping to expand on their patronage empire.
Several years ago, Monmouth County Republicans used their hiring authority to reward political patrons with lucrative contracts and jobs funded by taxpayers.
This practice culminated in a massive federal crime sweep that landed many Monmouth GOP politicians in jail as part of the FBI’s “Operation Bid Rig.”
Whether D’Amico, Mallet and McMorrow deliver for their political paymasters or the public is a matter of enormous curiosity.
Monmouth County deserves a smarter, more efficient government and they should keep political thugs like Joe Cryan out of it.
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