Archive for the ‘Pay-to-Play’ Category

Hectoring Works

Occasionally I start a blog intending to impart a specific piece of information but then wind up stumbling upon a larger truth which, in the case of a countywatchers blog I just put up, turned out to be how the machine always wears you down. Nothing to do with New Jersey pensions or multiemployer benefit cuts so feel free not to click in.

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R.I.P. Bill Schluter

Soft Corruption by William E. Schluter has become a bible for one of my other lives as it reflects closely my experience with legalized graft in New Jersey politics.

Bill Schluter died yesterday. Here are his teachings from past blogs.

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Public Pensions, Secret Investments

A new book by Chris Tobe, CFA examines ‘alternative’ investments primarily in the retirement system of Kentucky with chapters on Rhode Island and North Carolina and reports that fees are much higher then they let on though a lot remains intentionally hidden.

Excerpts follow:

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What NJEA Bought

On Thursday I witnessed seven of eight Union County politicians, against the will of the majority and common sense, repaying their campaign donors.

Today focused on the cautionary tale of New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney who crossed the teachers’ union and has wound up fighting against their money. In his defense (and including an astounding admission):

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Buying NJ Governorship

I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy; Dear Jack, Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.

John F. Kennedy

Next Tuesday in New Jersey we will have a primary election for governor and based on information on the updated New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission website here is how much each candidate (and two from prior years) spent personally on all elections in total (buying support) and this primary election to date.
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Defining Corruption

“I’m blown away that they could make these kinds of threats,” New Jersey Senate president Stephen Sweeney said according to njspotlight:

Sweeney, during the news conference yesterday, also pointed to the message left for him by Fox, the police union official. He went on to cite both state and federal anti-bribery laws, as well as a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on a corruption case involving the former governor of Virginia that he said specifically referred to what constitutes bribery.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, the federal statute “makes it a crime for ‘a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly’ to demand, seek, receive, accept, or agree ‘to receive or accept anything of value’ in return for being ‘influenced in the performance of any official act.’” The ruling also said “an ‘official act’ is defined as ‘any decision or action on any question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy, which may at any time be pending, or which may by law be brought before any public official, in such official’s official capacity.’”

So what exactly was that $11.4 million that the NJEA paid to politicians over the years for?

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Who’s Extorting Whom?

Public employee unions in New Jersey want a ballot measure in November saying, among other things, that the state has to pay something into the state retirement system.  To that end they acted:

 County Democratic Party leaders won’t be able to count on New Jersey’s largest teachers union for political contributions this year because state lawmakers haven’t acted to put a constitutional amendment on state pension payments on the fall ballot.

Three county chairman told NJ Advance Media they received calls from a New Jersey Education Association lobbyist informing them the powerful union would be withholding campaign contributions until next spring out of frustration with stalled legislative action on the proposed public pension constitutional amendment.

To which Senate President (and lead Democrat and beneficiary of union money) Stephen Sweeney reacted:

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