Home>Articles>The time the media took down a congressman from Boonton

State Sen. Joseph Maraziti (R-Boonton) in 1968. Ace Alagna collection courtesy of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center, Seton Hall University Libraries, South Orange.

The time the media took down a congressman from Boonton

Watergate, personal scandal let to defeat of Joe Maraziti in a solidly Republican district

By David Wildstein, November 01 2019 12:28 pm

Click play for audio version of this story

If the Daily Record hadn’t died before Tony Bucco did, the race for State Assembly in the 25th district could be entirely different.

In the old days, when daily newspapers provided intensive local news coverage, politicians like Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) might have been more hesitant to run for an Assembly seat he has no intention of keeping after assuming his late father’s seat in the New Jersey State Senate.

Back in 1974, three months after the Watergate scandal forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency, local coverage of another Boonton Republican, Rep. Joseph Maraziti, helped toss the freshman congressman from office in a strong GOP district.

Local newspapers aimed considerable coverage at Maraziti, whose seat on the House Judiciary Committee put him on national television as Nixon’s defender.  He voted against all three articles of impeachment.

Maraziti also became bogged down in a scandal.

He put his 35-year-old girlfriend, Linda Collinson, on his congressional payroll in a no-show job while she continued to work at Maraziti’s Morris County law firm.

Collinson was outed after she applied for a loan with the House Credit Union.  A staffer in Maraziti’s Washington office told the credit union that she had never heard of Collinson.

Reporters later discovered that Maraziti owned the house Collinson lived in.

Maraziti was also damaged by reports that a Warren County newspaper fired their managing editor, Donald Thatcher, after learning that he was also on Maraziti’s congressional payroll.  Later, news broke that Nicholas DiRienzo, the general manager of two New Jersey radio stations, was also on the congressman’s staff.

Some perspective on Maraziti’s congressional district: it started in Boonton, went through western Morris, included Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren counties, and a small part of then-Republican western Mercer.

In 1972, Nixon won 70% of the vote in the district against George McGovern.

Maraziti’s Democratic opponent was Helen Stevenson Meyner, the former First Lady of New Jersey.    Meyner had run against Maraziti in 1972, when it was an open seat race, and lost by 13 points.

Meyner became one of the Watergate Babies, defeating Maraziti by a 57%-43% margin in a district that continues to be solidly Republican.

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