BILL WOULD INCREASE MAXIMUM ETHICS FINES TO $10,000 – AS RECOMMENDED BY RECENT COMPTROLLER REPORT
Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin introduced legislation yesterday imposing larger fines against unethical local public officials after a recent State Comptroller investigation showed current penalties did not deter a local official from improperly using his government position and gain substantial profit in a land deal.
“It’s no longer a shock when public officials act in their own interests instead of the public good. With penalties set so low, it’s more surprising that we don’t see officials improperly profiting from public service more frequently,” Handlin, R-Monmouth, said. “To an unscrupulous official with $1 million at stake, a $500 penalty is just a sunken cost that would barely budge the bottom line.”
A recent Comptroller’s report determined a Chesterfield Township committeeman improperly used his government position in facilitating a private land deal that brought him substantial profit. The report recommended increasing maximum fines for violations of the Local Government Ethics Law from $500 to $10,000. Handlin’s proposal would implement those increased penalties.
“I agree with Comptroller Matt Boxer’s call to bring ethics penalties for local officials in line with those for state employees, especially now that New Jersey is undergoing a massive rebuilding effort mixing planning decisions and tens of billions of federal funding,” Handlin, R-Monmouth, said. “Rebuilding our state after Hurricane Sandy is too important to be tainted by corruption. We need a loud message and strong deterrents against self-serving politicians who violate the public’s trust to earn a buck.”
Comptroller’s press release: