Friday, July 24, 2009

Authorities charge dozens of New Jersey lawmakers, rabbis in massive corruption sting

For those who may naively conclude New York lawmakers have a monopoly on less than ethical political practices, the arrest of dozens of politicians and rabbis yesterday across the Hudson River in a massive corruption sting has once again proven something continues to stink in New Jersey.

Federal authorities arrested Hoboken Mayor Peter J. Cammarano, III, who took office less than a month ago, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez early yesterday morning. Others taken into custody include Assemblymembers L. Harvey Smith [D-Jersey City] and Daniel Van Pelt [R-Ocean County], Mariano Vega, Jr., president of the City Council in Jersey City, Brooklyn Rabbi Saul Kassin and leaders of a synagogue in tony Deal in Monmouth County. Law enforcement officials took a total of 44 people into custody. And they have been charged with money laundering, accepting bribes and a host of other related charges.

This massive sting will certainly continue to have potentially serious repercussions in the contentious gubernatorial campaign between Gov. Jon Corzine and former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. Joseph Doria, Jr., commissioner of the state's Department of Community Affairs, resigned hours after authorities searched is Bayonne home in connection with the sting. Corzine has also called upon Smith and Van Pelt to resign.

The breadth of this massive corruption will continue to unfold, but the fact remains there is something endemically wrong with politics in New Jersey. And this sting simply highlights the unfortunate reality much work lays ahead to tackle this albatross that continues to rear its ugly neck around the state.

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