Senator Says Measure Would Force Public Officials to Aid in Prosecution of Corruption
TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice recently introduced a measure to require public officials to work with the State Attorney General when they have actual knowledge of corruption.
“I’m serious about restoring faith in government by cracking down on those who refuse to report corruption,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “It’s critical that my colleagues in the Legislature support this measure and show the public that we take our elected positions seriously and we are not interested in playing political games.”
The bill would require that government officials and employees who have actual knowledge that a public official has violated the “School Ethics Act,” the “Local Government Ethics Law” and the “New Jersey Conflict of Interest Law” must report that information to the Attorney General.
Senator Rice stated that the penalties for failing to come forward with information are set by the State Ethics Commission and range from an official reprimand, to suspension or dismissal from office. The Commission would base the penalty on the severity of the crime which had been covered up.
According to Senator Rice, in order to stop bogus accusations, this bill would impose criminal penalties for reporting false allegations to the Attorney General.
“It’s important that elected officials are serving the public, and that is why we need to be sure that people are coming forward if they have any knowledge of corruption,” said Senator Rice. “Under this bill, public leaders could forfeit their office if they cover for a corrupt colleague. However, this bill also has protections in place to make sure that the Attorney General isn’t bogged down by frivolous allegations, and that unscrupulous individuals cannot use legitimate corruption investigations for political gain.”
The bill is pending consideration in the Senate State Government Committee.