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State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway)

NJ Working Families alleges conflicts on EGS committee

Senators have ties to Norcross, group says

By Nikita Biryukov, June 24 2019 12:53 pm

New Jersey Working Families on Friday submitted an ethics complaint to the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards that alleged members of the Senate Select Committee on Economic Growth Strategies had conflicts of interest.

The group claimed State Sen. Bob Smith, who chairs the EGS committee, was conflicted because his law firm represents the Central Jersey Joint Insurance Fund.

The fund is administered by PERMA Risk Management Services, an affiliate of Conner Strong & Buckelew, which is owned by South Jersey kingmaker George Norcross.

Norcross is at the center of the conflicts surrounding the Economic Development Authority, whose programs the committee was convened to review.

Similarly, Working Families claims State Sen. Joe Lagana is conflicted because Chasan Lamparello Mallon & Cappuzzo, the law firm where he is partner, is retained by the South Bergen Joint Insurance Fund, which is also administered by PERMA.

The activists also point spending by the General Majority PAC, which is aligned with Norcross and Senate President Steve Sweeney, in the 38th district’s 2015 elections.

The group makes similar claims about State Sen. Bob Singer, who sits on the board of Ocean County’s Joint Insurance Fund.

That fund is also administered by Ferma.

The activists further charge that Norcross is the political patron of State Sens. Dawn Addiego and Nilsa Cruz-Perez.

They say he backed legislation boosting Addiego’s pension.

Cruz-Perez, the director of constituent services in Camden County, is a longtime Norcross ally.

The complaint was sent to Judge John Harper, Vice Chair The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards, by New Jersey Working Families State Director Sue Altman.

Altman is a political opponent of Camden’s Democratic organization, a group that necessarily — though not officially — includes Norcross.

Altman sits on the board of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, which this year attempted to wrest county committees in Camden from machine Democrats.

Those efforts failed everywhere but Collingswood, where the progressives swept the the county committee with a margin of less than 100 votes.

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