Trenton – The state’s public corruption laws would be strengthened under terms of legislation authored by Senator Joe Cryan that was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
The bill, S-510, would clarify the law to specify that candidates for public office are subject to anti-bribery statutes. The courts have ruled in multiple cases that candidates and those who have been elected but not yet taken office can’t be convicted for bribery.
“Since the courts made those decisions, it’s the Legislature’s responsibility to define correctly what the statute would be so there is no question that attempted bribery is illegal,” said Senator Cryan. “The law should be clear and definitive that public officials and those seeking public office will be punished for trying to sell out the integrity of government service.”
The courts have ruled in dismissing charges or reversing convictions that the bribery statute does not apply to an office that a person does not hold. Senator Cryan’s bill would clarify and strengthen the law.
It would expand the definition of “public servant” in the state’s anti-corruption laws to include anyone who is a candidate for public office and anyone elected but has not yet assumed office.
It would make bribery in “official and political matters” for these individuals a second-degree crime, punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, unless the bribe is worth less than $200, which would be a third-degree crime.