Governor’s Friends Sit On Special Ethics Panel
A Democratic governor who showered a girlfriend with expensive gifts and cash will not be investigated by his state’s ethics commission even though the woman is a union head for state employees currently negotiating a contract with the governor’s administration.
The New Jersey Ethics Commission refuses to investigate Governor Jon Corzine’s potential conflict-of-interest, saying that it is the job of a special Ethics Advisory Panel established in 2003 by a disgraced New Jersey Governor (James McGreevey), who admitted hiring his unqualified gay lover as the state’s Homeland Security expert.
The two members of the special advisory panel are appointed by none other than the governor and their job, if they chose to do it objectively, is to impose fines on their boss if he is found to have violated the conduct code.
The Corzine case perhaps merits more objective investigation because it involves an ongoing state contractual issue that will inevitably affect taxpayers. His former girlfriend, Carla Katz, is representing 40,000 New Jersey state workers who are in the midst of negotiations with Corzine and his administration.
During their two-year romantic relationship Corzine, a multimillionaire, gave Katz hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and other lavish gifts that both parties refuse to disclose because they are personal. Although the relationship supposedly ended a few years ago, Katz recently and secretly bought a $1.1 million condominium, which she had previously rented, in a building where Corzine lives.
Because such a purchase would be quite difficult with Katz’s $119,000 annual salary, one newspaper article speculates that perhaps there is a continuing relationship between the millionaire governor and the union leader. At the very least, the state’s ethics commission should look into it and not completely defer to the friends who sit on the governor’s special panel.