As campaigns for public and party office begin to take shape for 2019 and 2020, here’s a story about a local official who got in trouble when he sought to trade a government job for a direct political act.
Back in 2007, the Republican mayor of a small town in Salem County went to prison for offering his opponent a job if he dropped out of the race.
Mack Lake was seeking re-election to the Carneys Point Township Committee. He approached Democrat Anthony Rullo and offered him an appointment to the Carneys Point Sewerage Authority that paid $1,500-per-year. After that offer was rejected, Lake upped the offer to a $15,000-a-year part-time post as a housing inspector.
Rullo reported the offer to law enforcement and wore a wire in subsequent conversations with Lake. He remained in the race.
On Election Day, Rullo defeated Lake by 62 votes, 1,198 to 1,136 (51%-49%).
Two weeks later, Attorney General Stuart Rabner announced that the state had indicted Lake on one count of official misconduct and two counts of bribery.
A jury convicted Lake, who was sentenced to three years in prison.
Anne Milgram, who became attorney general after Rabner became chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, appealed the sentence and got Lake’s time increased to five years.