Ethics Panel Investigating Cryan

STATE—The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards voted unanimously Tuesday to pursue an investigation into allegations that Assemblyman Joseph Cryan abused his office by having legislative staff perform tasks related to his non-government post as state Democratic Party chairman for the politician’s personal benefit.

Monmouth County Freeholder Robert D. Clifton disclosed in January that Cryan’s legislative staff contacted the state Department of Personnel and the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics about finding candidates for jobs when control over that county’s freeholder board switched parties.

Dave Jenkins, the Cryan aide who sent the email messages, is paid at taxpayer expense.

A complaint filed by Democratic political strategist James J. Devine said seeking out prospects for patronage jobs in Monmouth County would be a purely partisan activity.

“This is using a public employee for personal benefit, and it is unethical behavior that is typical of Cryan and symptomatic of what’s wrong with New Jersey,” said Devine.

“Since Mr. Cryan is paid by taxpayers for his service in the Legislature, he should not confuse that government job with his private, personal role as chairman of the Democratic State Committee,” Devine wrote in his Jan. 9 complaint. “There is no less an ethical conflict to employ legislative staff at taxpayer expense in performing political tasks related to Mr. Cryan’s role as chairman of a partisan organization, than it would be for a mayor to have a city public works crew repair his home driveway.”

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