Home>Highlight>Long-stalled anti-bribery bill passes both Assembly and Senate unanimously

Assemblyman Greg McGuckin. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Long-stalled anti-bribery bill passes both Assembly and Senate unanimously

Bill extends state bribery laws to candidates who do not hold public office

By Joey Fox, March 24 2022 4:49 pm

A bill expanding the state’s bribery laws to include candidates for office who do not hold any elected position unanimously passed both houses of the New Jersey legislature today; should Gov. Phil Murphy sign the legislation, it will mark a successful end to a near-decade long effort by Assemblyman Greg McGuckin (R-Toms River) to get such a bill passed.

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Alongside now-former Assemblymen David Wolfe (R-Brick) and Gary Chiusano (R-Frankford), McGuckin first introduced the legislation in 2012, soon after charges against former Assemblyman Louis Manzo (D-Jersey City) were dismissed because Manzo was not an elected official when he accepted bribes in his Jersey City mayoral campaign. But despite the political focus on the Manzo case, the bill never came to a vote in committee or got a Senate sponsor.

McGuckin and his colleagues reintroduced the bill every session from then on, but it stalled each time, even after a near-identical case in Bayonne was dropped for the same reasons.

Things began to change last year, when State Sen. Joe Cryan (D-Union) joined the bill as a Senate sponsor. The bill didn’t advance that session, but when McGuckin and Cryan reintroduced it this session, it quickly came before committees in both the Assembly and Senate.

Asked today why the bill was so immediately successful this session after such a long delay, McGuckin said he wasn’t sure.

“I do not know,” he said. “I have no idea, I’m just thankful it passed.”

McGuckin noted that Cryan sponsoring the bill was a clear boost, giving the legislation an ambassador both in the Senate and among Democrats.

“Senator Cryan getting on the bill late last year really gave it some impetus and some movement,” McGuckin said. “That was very helpful, and I’m very thankful that he jumped on and he shepherded it through the Senate. He did his job and I did mine.”

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