Could Sanford’s Victory Lead To A McGreevey Comeback?

Former Gov Jim McGreevey. Wikipedia photo

Former Gov Jim McGreevey. Wikipedia photo

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford overcame the scandal of his marital infidelity and abandoning his state.  He was elected in a special election to the U.S House of Representatives last night.

Could former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey launch a similar comeback?

Sanford won by 9 points in a district that went for Mitt Romney by 18 points last November.  Nate Silver argues that 13% of South Carolina’s 1st district voters withheld their support of Sanford over his sex scandal.  McGreevey lives in Rush Holt’s 12 Congressional District of New Jersey.  McGreevey could win that seat if it was open, unless Scott Sipprelle was the GOP nominee, but he wouldn’t challenge Holt in a primary.

But what about U.S. Senate?  Senator Frank Lautenberg announced he is retiring.  Newark Mayor Cory Booker won’t say if he is running, officially. Booker strung the Democratic Party along for too long before announcing he wouldn’t run for governor this year.   McGreevey wouldn’t really be stepping on Booker’s toes if he announced a candidacy for U.S. Senate.

Congressman Frank Pallone says he wants Lautenberg’s job. He wouldn’t be too happy if McGreevey entered the senate race. But McGreevey offered Pallone the opportunity to become a senator in 2002 when Senator Robert Torricelli dropped out of his reelection campaign.  McGreevey doesn’t owe Pallone anything.

Gay Rights is the progressive social issue of our day.  Who would be a better standard bearing for Gay Rights in a New Jersey U.S. Senate race.  Booker, Pallone or McGreevey?

McGreevey will appear with Governor Christie at the Hudson County Jail this morning.  They are holding a press conference about the work that McGreevey is doing as a minister to incarcerated women.  There will probably be YouTubes and spots on the evening news.

Timing is everything, they say, in politics.  A governor driven from office in a sex scandal being elected to congress is good timing for McGreevey.

Posted: May 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 U.S. Senate race | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Codey Wan Kenobi

CodeyWanState Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) wants former Acting Governor Dick Codey to stop Starship Christie from conquering the dark side of Trenton this November.

Lesniak said on facebook:

Codey for Governor?  Christie’s style has vaulted his popularity, but Codey has style also.  Christie’s feisty style has overshadowed his support for Romney and his policies that would cut taxes on the wealthy while putting added burdens on everyone else.  Honk if you like Codey for Governor.  Now that Corey Booker has chosen not to run, Codey is our Obi Wan Kenobi.

Codey, a senator representing parts of Morris and Essex Counties served as governor after Jim McGreevey resigned in 2004.

Codey has yet to declare his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to challenge Christie.  Recent media reports say that Codey is weighing his options and is 50-50 about running.  State Senator Barbara Buono (Middlesex) is the only announced Democratic candidate so far.

In addition to Codey, Senate President Steve Sweeney(Gloucester) is considering a run.  Our friends at SaveJersey.com report that an unknown organization is conducting a push poll for Sweeney in South Jersey.

Posted: January 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Gubernatorial Politics, Barbara Buono, Chris Christie, Jim McGreevey, Richard Codey, Stephen Sweeney | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Does Pallone have the fortitude to run for U.S. Senate?

Now that Newark Mayor Cory Booker has taken himself out the the gubernatorial race, everyone expects him to run for Frank Lautenberg’s U. S. Senate seat in 2014.    A recent poll indicated that Booker would easily beat Lautenberg in a Democratic primary should the 88 year old senator make another run.

That hasn’t stopped Congressman Frank Pallone from calling Democratic County Chairs to remind them that he is still interested in the Senate seat he has long coveted but never had the guts to fight for.

Pallone best shot at becoming a Senator came and went in 2002 when he declined Governor Jim McGreevey’s offer to replace the disgraced Senator Robert Torricelli on the ballot against Doug Forrester.   McGreevey brought Frank Lautenberg out of retirement and got the State Supreme Court to rewrite New Jersey’s election law so the switch could be made after the statutory deadline.  The polls showing Forrester beating Toricelli scared Pallone off from giving up a easy victory in CD-6 in favor of his dream job in the Senate.

Lautenberg went on to clobber Forrester in 2002 and was elected again in 2008. 

Pallone was passed over for the Senate in 2006 when Governor Jon Corzine chose Bob Menendez to replace him in the Senate.  Menendez won his own term that November and was reelected last month.  He is on the verge of becoming the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Pallone clearly wants to be a Senator, but his history indicates that he doesn’t have the fortitude to risk his cushy lifestyle as a congressman in order to fight for his dream.  I hope he grows a pair and goes for it, because the race to replace him in the 6th Congressional District would be great for blog traffic.


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: December 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Gubernatorial Politics, 2014 U.S. Senate race | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Did Christie Throw The Election to Obama?

As someone who has witnessed the destruction of my hometown and the devastation Sandy wrecked upon the lives of so many people I care about, I really don’t care if the partnership that Governor Chris Christie forged with President Barack Obama contributed to Obama’s reelection.

As I embraced my dear friend while we were standing in the wreckage of what used to be her mother’s home while she was crying, “she’s going to die,” the last thing I cared about was politics.

For over a week I’ve witness my neighbors’ possessions be piled into a garbage transfer station that used to be a parking lot and then be loaded into trailers be be trucked away.  Soon many of those neighbors will be living in trailers in a park while someone else decides when, how and if their homes can be rebuilt.

I won’t complain that I haven’t slept in my own bed and there is no power at my house.  I still have a house.  My friends don’t.  My friend, the mayor, his wife and three young children are sleeping on cots in a gymnasium.

I could care less that Christie wept when Bruce Springsteen called him a friend.  I care even less that Obama facilitated the friendship.

I am comforted that Chris Christie is doing his job and doing it well.  I am comforted that he assembled such a competent team to form his administration three years ago and that they work so well together.

I can’t imagine Jon Corzine, Richard Cody, Jim McGreevey, Christie Whitman, Jim Florio, Tom Kean or Brendan Byrne being as hands on or as competent as Christie has been in this crisis.  I also can’t imagine Cory Booker doing the job that Christie has done or assembling as good a team to do it.

Chris Christie is doing his job and doing it well.  He’s witnessed far more of the devastation to New Jersey than I have. I’m pleased that for the last weeks he hasn’t cared about politics either.

Pundits on both sides of the aisle are saying that if not for Hurricane Sandy, Obama may not have been reelected.  That could be true.  But given Obama’s record, the state of the world and the economy, the election should not have been close heading into the last weekend in October.

Obama said he will be a better president as a result of the campaign. He said he heard those who opposed him and his policies.  I hope that proves to be true.  We’ll know soon enough.

I don’t think Chris Christie will be a better governor because he has Obama’s cell number.  I think it is more likely that Obama will be a better president because he has Chrisite’s number.

Posted: November 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics, Barack Obama, Chris Christie, Christie Administration, Hurricane Sandy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Corzine Economics: The $750 million Bond Question

Do you approve the “Building Our Future Bond Act?” This bond act authorizes the state to issue bonds in the aggregate principal amount of $750 million to provide matching grants to New Jeresy’s colleges and universities. Money from the grants will be used to build, equip and expand higher education facilities for the purpose of increasing academic capacity.


We thought we were rid of him in 2009.  We sent him back to Wall Street where he destroyed the company that hired him as CEO and he destroyed the businesses and savings of thousands of investors when $1.2 billion of their money went missing.   He testified before a congressional committee that he simply does not know where the money is.  MF’ing Jon Corzine.

Yet the ghost of Jon Corzine in on the ballot twice this November.  Once, if Joe Kyrillos has his way, in the form of Bob Menendez, the man Corzine made a Senator.

Perhaps more dangerous to our fiscal health than Bob Menendez is the insidious alliance of trough swillers who are hoping New Jersey voters don’t notice that ballot question #1 is Corzine Economics and Governance.

Imagine this is a personal expenditure.  It is.  If not for you, for your children or grandchildren.

Imagine your income has been down for a few years and its lower that what you expected it would be so far this year.  Your credit rating has been downgraded.  Your savings have been depleted and you don’t know that you’re going to be able to make ends meet at the end of the year.  Not that hard to imagine.  Many New Jerseyans are living through that nightmare.  Our state government is going through exactly that.

Then imagine that a group of politicians, unions, business groups, colleges, gas and electric companies, water companies, insurance companies…pretty much everyone who supported Corzine’s plan to sell or lease our highways and his plan to borrow $450 million to fund stem cell research comes along and asks you to guarantee a $750 million loan to build, equip and expand facilities on college campuses.

Again, not hard to imagine because its happening.  The group is called Building our Future: Yes on #1Its list of donors smells like #2 if you’re concerned our New Jersey’s fiscal health and your own.

As of October 10 the group’s donors had kicked in $900,000 to persuade you to vote for their largess, according to The Star Ledger.

Most of Building our Future’s donors have a financial stake in the passage of referendum, which could create dozens of large construction projects on college campuses across the state.

The group’s first donors include: PSE&G ($200,000), New Jersey Carpenter Contractor Network ($100,000), New Jersey Resources ($100,000), Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters PAC ($100,000), New Jersey State Electrical Workers ($100,000) and the American Federal of Teachers New Jersey ($10,000).

William Paterson University was the first higher education institution to donate to the cause, with a $33,000 check, according to the ELEC filing. University officials said the money came from private donations to the William Paterson Foundation, the school’s nonprofit fund raising arm.


This group knows how to raise money. $900,000 since they were formed in August.  They also know how to spend it.  Save money?  Not so much.  Their web site cost over $18,000.

The Corzine connections to the group run deep.

Maggie Moran was the first chairperson of the group, according to their ELEC reports.  Moran was Corzine’s Chief of Staff when he served in the U.S. Senate. She was his Deputy Chief of Staff while he was governor. Laura Matos was the group’s first treasurer. Matos served in the governor’s office for Jim McGreevey, Dick Cody and Corzine.  Moran and Matos are now partners at M Public Affairs, Inc.  Building our Future: Yes on #1 shares office space with M Public Affairs in Lake Como.  Building our Future: Yes on #1 and M Public Affairs have the same phone number.  Of the $188,000 Building our Future: Yes on #1 spent through October 9, $55,000, including the $18K web site, was paid to M Public Affairs.

The new chairman of Building our Future is union leader William T. Mullen.  The new treasurer is John Duthie who is also the treasurer of the NJ State Laborers PAC and the Laborer’s International Union of North America.

The Corzine connections run deep.

We couldn’t afford Jon Corzine when he was governor and we can’t afford his borrow and overspend policies now.

Vote No on #1.


Posted: October 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »


By Mark Lagerkvist, NewJersey.Watchdog.org

For state Sen. Frederick Madden Jr., the path of public service also has been a road to personal wealth.

Madden collects more than $241,000 a year in public salaries plus retirement pay. He gets $49,000 as a legislator, a $106,983 as a police academy dean and an $85,272 annual pension as a State Police retiree. 

Since he “retired” at age 48 nearly a decade ago, Madden has cashed $770,156 in New Jersey retirement checks. Among the 15 legislators who draw state pensions, no one pockets more than the senator from the state’s 4th Legislative District, which includes parts of Gloucester and Camden counties.  (See chart below.)

It may madden taxpayers, but double-dipping practices by public officials generally are legal under state law.

“There are those who have an issue with people retiring from one organization and going to work someplace else,” Madden told New Jersey Watchdog. “Obviously I don’t have a problem with people doing it. I’ve accepted that in my own personal life. I don’t have a problem with it at all.”

The problem is whether the state can afford such generosity. New Jersey’s pensions are underfunded by $36 billion, according to the State Treasury’s latest numbers. Other studies have estimated the shortfall as high as $144 billion.

‘Special Retirement’

How did Madden retire with a fat pension at 48? Other public employees in New Jersey typically must wait until 60 or older to retire with full benefits. Under federal Social Security, the full retirement age is 66.

The answer is simple: “Special Retirement.” It is a rule that only applies to law enforcement officials in the Police & Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) or State Police Retirement System (SPRS). The special retirement provision allows officers to retire at any age after 25 years of service, without reduced benefits.

“It’s basically a young person’s job,” said Madden. “The system is set up for them to retire early to keep the forces young. We have mandatory retirement at 55.”

Two months before he turned 21, Madden was hired as a $9,088-a-year state trooper who would climb up the organizational chart. He could have retired at 45 with full benefits, but Madden maximized his nest egg by staying for four more raises, three more birthdays and two big promotions to lieutenant colonel and deputy superintendent. Then he retired June 30, 2002.

“I had reached the top of my career in policing. It was in my best interest to move on, so I decided to retire,” Madden said.

Four months after his 48th birthday, Madden began receiving a SPRS pension for life. It will pay him more than $2.5 million, if he lives until age 80 — the average life expectancy for a 57-year-old white male in the United States, according to federal statistics.

“I’ve earned that,” said Madden. “I paid into that system like every other trooper. You can make it sound like I’m getting something I don’t deserve, and that’s wrong.”

Madden’s pension is based on 27 years of service and a final salary of $112,451 a year. Previous years of lower pay and smaller retirement fund contributions are not part of the calculation. Under the statutory formula, his pension pay is 67 percent of his final salary, plus cost-of-living increases.

The senator noted the State Police does not participate in Social Security. Employees do not contribute to the federal program and typically do not qualify for its retirement benefits.

One-Day Retiree

The first thing Madden did after he retired was return to the government payroll in a law enforcement job.

On July 1, 2002 — one day after he left the State Police — Madden started a new job as chief of detectives for the Gloucester County prosecutor. His new $105,000 salary, along with a pension of roughly $75,000, boosted Madden’s annual income to $180,000.

“There are a lot of positives to taking retirees that have strong resumes and productive work experience and placing them in other public jobs,” said Madden.

One state rule is supposed to prevent workers from temporarily retiring from public employment to take advantage of pension funds. A retirement only is considered to be legitimate, or “bona fide,” if “there is a good faith action to retire” and “there has been a cessation of employment of at least 30 days,” according to SPRS and PFRS handbooks.

If a retirement is not “bona fide,” the state can force the employee to return any benefits paid.

The rule often is ignored and seldom enforced. Previous New Jersey Watchdog investigations uncovered numerous examples of one-day retirements by officials who currently work for the state attorney general, county sheriffs and prosecuting attorneys.

Back to the State Police

In a twist of fate, Madden returned from his “retirement” to head the State Police temporarily as a result of someone else’s scandal. 

Gov. James McGreevey named Madden acting superintendent in October 2002 when Superintendent Joseph Santiago resigned amid allegations of “gross mismanagement.” The appointment lasted four months.

“One Friday morning, I showed up at the prosecutor’s office for work. That afternoon, I was in the governor’s office assuming command of the division,” recalled Madden.

It was good news for Madden’s paycheck. The Gloucester prosecutor gave him a $20,000 raise — upping his pay to $125,000 a year — then assigned Madden to the State Police on an “intergovernmental loan.”

Meanwhile, Madden’s state pension kept rolling in at a rate of $75,000 a year, boosting his annualized income to $200,000.


When the State Police found a new superintendent, Madden quit the Gloucester County prosecutor in February 2003 to run for state Senate as a Democrat.

“I was thinking, ‘If they can do this job…’” Madden chuckled. “I think I bring morals and ethics and truthfulness to the seat. I had been policing my entire life, and I wanted to try something different.”

In a close election decided by recount, Madden beat Republican incumbent George Geist by 63 votes. One of the victor’s spoils was the $49,000 annual pay received by legislators.

In May 2006, Madden found a third stream of public income. He was hired as acting dean of the Gloucester County Police Academy with a $76,128 a year salary. Two years later, Madden was promoted to dean of the academy, a law enforcement training program at Gloucester County College in Sewell. His pay was boosted to $96,500 per annum.

“I have no problem balancing them,” said Madden, referring to his two jobs. He said he has flexible hours at his 35-hour-week college position and takes vacation time to attend Senate sessions when necessary.

He contends that state taxpayers benefit because he can hold two public positions in New Jersey concurrently.

“If I go across the bridge to Temple University (to work in Pennsylvania), those people get the benefit of my training and the college degrees that the people of New Jersey have invested in,” he said.

Madden’s police academy salary is now $106,374 a year. Cost-of-living hikes have boosted his annual pension to $85,272, while his legislative salary remains at $49,000.

Bottom line: Madden rakes in $241,255 a year from a state pension plus two public salaries. He said he is not earning additional pensions from the college or Legislature.

15 NJ Legislators Collect State Pensions

New Jersey Watchdog found 15 current legislators — six senators and nine Assembly members — who receive state retirement checks in addition to legislative salaries, according to public records. The nine Democrats and six Republicans receive an average of $43,000 in annual pension pay.

Not coincidentally, those who get the biggest checks are retirees of PFRS or SPRS. State pension formulas and regulations favor law enforcement officials over other public employees.

For example, if Madden had retired as a member of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) at the same age, salary history and years of service, his pension would have been cut in half.

Of the 15 lawmakers who receive state pensions plus legislative salaries, three are on the payrolls of other public agencies in New Jersey. In addition to Madden:

# # #


Title First Last Dist D/R  Pension/Yr Plan
Sen Fred Madden 4 D  $     85,272 SPRS
Assemb Gordon Johnson 37 D  $     75,492 PFRS
Assemb David Rible 11 R  $     55,032 PFRS
Sen Samuel Thompson 13 R  $     51,996 PERS
Assemb Gilbert Wilson 5 D  $     50,304 PFRS
Assemb Dianne Gove 9 R  $     49,644 TPAF
Assemb Connie Wagner 38 D  $     46,368 TPAF
Sen James Holzapfel 10 R  $     43,176 PERS
Sen Loretta Weinberg 37 D  $     40,860 PERS
Sen Jim Whelan 2 D  $     35,160 PERS
Sen Robert Singer 30 R  $     34,404 PERS
Assemb Cleopatra Tucker 28 D  $     33,996 PERS
Assemb Joseph Egan 17 D  $     24,216 PERS
Assemb Ralph Caputo 28 D  $     11,628 PERS
Assemb John DiMaio 23 R  $     10,356 PERS
TOTAL          $   647,904  
AVG          $     43,193

New Jersey Watchdog’s research focused on current state legislators who draw retirement pay from state pension funds. Data are from pension, payroll and personnel records obtained from the New Jersey Department of Treasury, Civil Service Commission and local governmental bodies through state’s Open Public Records Act requests. Pension amounts and employment status are current as of December 2011.

Rible receives a pension for “accidental disability retirement,” which is not based on age or years of service. For details, click here for New Jersey Watchdog’s investigative report on Rible’s disability pension.

Key to abbreviations for state pension plans: PFRS – Police and Firemen’s Retirement System; SPRS – State Police Retirement System; TPAF – Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund; PERS – Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Posted: February 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: New Jersey Watchdog, Pensions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

McGreevey’s Ordination In Limbo

By Art Gallagher

Machiavellian gay American Jim McGreevey’s bid to become an Episcopal priest has been rejected by the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, according to a report in the New York Post.

The former governor was not rejected because of his sexuality, but because he’s “a jackass,” according to a source quoted by the Post.  Church leaders sited McGreevey’s bitter divorce and  their concerns that he might be using the Church to recover his public image as reasons for his rejection.   McGreevey can try for the priesthood again after more study and charitable work.

McGreevey remains on the State payroll and in the pension system as a faculty member of Kean University’s Graduate Management Program, where he teaches ethics.

Maybe McGreevey would fare better in his vocation if he joined the faculty of a college affiliated with the Episcopal Church, like Bard College.  Bard is a 2 1/2 hour drive from McGreevey’s Plainfield home and they have a High School Early College Program in New York City.  If they would have him, it would be doable.  But how would he continue to accumulate his state pension credits?

Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Jim McGreevey, Pensions | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »