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New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Commissioner Bob Gordon. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Senate Majority Office.

Gordon can’t serve on transit board without special legislation

Nobody found law that bars BPU commissioners from holding other posts

By David Wildstein, February 12 2020 1:14 pm

Bob Gordon cannot serve on the New Jersey Transit Board of Directors unless the legislature passes a special bill to waive a conflict with his post as a commissioner of the Board of Public Utilities, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

State law prohibits BPU board members or employees from holding any other public position.

The beleaguered transit agency has a board meeting scheduled for today and it appears that Gordon will attend but not be able to participate.

Gordon, a former state senator from Bergen County, was nominated to the NJ Transit post by Gov. Phil Murphy and confirmed by the State Senate last month.

Murphy’s staff missed the statute that would limit Gordon’s involvement, a source with knowledge of the nomination told the Globe.

It’s not Gordon’s fault.

At his confirmation hearing, Gordon said he had obtained a written opinion form the State Ethics Commission saying there were no statutory prohibition to holding the unpaid NJ Transit post.  He also said he confirmed that lack of prohibition with the BPU ethics officer.

The legislature is in the process of preparing a bill that would specifically allow BPU commissioners to serve as NJ Transit board members.

Gordon was elected twice to the Assembly and four times to the Senate, resigned in 2018 to join the BPU.  His nominations to the utilities commission and the transit board sailed through the Senate with bi-partisan support.

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