Home>Highlight>Longtime Assembly bill to apply bribery statute to candidates gets a Senate sponsor

Deputy New Jersey Attorney General John Nicodemo. (Photo: Zoom/NJ Globe.)

Longtime Assembly bill to apply bribery statute to candidates gets a Senate sponsor

By David Wildstein, November 23 2021 2:09 pm

A nine-year bid to apply the state’s bribery statute to candidates for public office continues, but now with a sponsor in the State Senate.

State Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-Union) introduced legislation on Monday that would make it a crime for a candidate to seek or accept a campaign contribution in direct consideration of a future action.

The same bill was first introduced by Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Toms River) in 2012 and was reintroduced in four successive legislative sessions without every making it out of an Assembly committee.

The original bill was introduced after a U.S. District Court Judge dismissed an indictment involving former Assemblyman Louis Manzo (D-Jersey City) because his actions didn’t constitute criminal activity under New Jersey state law.

The legislation appears to advance a belief that the state attorney general’s office improperly charged several small-fish players in a corruption sting involving tax appeal attorney Matt O’Donnell because they held no public office.  A Superior Court Judge tossed an indictment against a former legislators after his lawyer argued that the statute didn’t apply to candidates.

The bill expands the definition of public servant under New Jersey’s bribery laws to include candidates seeking office.

But the legislation also separates campaign speeches and promises that generate lawful campaign contributions.

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