Home>Highlight>Wallace probably won’t be reappointed as legislative ethics panel chairman

Former Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr. (Photo: Brown & Connery).

Wallace probably won’t be reappointed as legislative ethics panel chairman

Embattled ex-Supreme Court Justice was Steve Sweeney’s pick

By David Wildstein, January 21 2022 11:06 am

Former Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr. is unlikely to return to his post as chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Wallace had served as chair of both the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission and the legislative ethics committee, a dual officeholder situation that might have created the appearance of a conflict.  Ethics complaints against the redistricting commission would have gone to the joint legislative committee and not the State Ethics Commission.

It’s not clear whether the New Jersey Supreme Court considered the possibility that an ethics complaint against Wallace would have come before a panel he headed when they picked him as the redistricting tiebreaker last summer.

Also unclear is whether the top court, when choosing between Wallace and former Superior Court Judge Marina Corodemus, considered that appearance of another conflict: that Wallace had been named to the ethic panel by Senate President Steve Sweeney, and that Sweeney had two appointments to the redistricting commission — Camden County Commissioner Jeff Nash and former Camden Mayor Dana Redd — where Wallace was the independent tiebreaker.

It appears that the new Senate President, Nicholas Scutari, has no plans to reappoint him.  His term ended on January 11, when the new legislature took office.

The committee hears ethics complaints against members of the New Jersey Legislature and its staffs.

Sweeney picked Wallace, who had lost his seat on the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2011 when Republican Gov. Chris Christie refused to renominate him, in 2013 following the death of the incumbent ethics chair, Rutgers University Professor Alan Rosenthal.

Republicans sharply criticized Wallace for his role as congressional redistricting tiebreaker, especially after he initially announced that he voted for the Democratic map only because 2011 tiebreaker John Farmer picked the GOP redistricting plan.

“In the end, I decided to vote for the Democratic map simply because the last redistricting map was drawn by the Republicans,” Wallace said last month.

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner later ordered Wallace to “amplify” his reasons.  Wallace did, saying he liked the Democratic presentation better.

Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio has reappointed the two ethics committee members named by his predecessor, Jon Bramnick:  Michael Mitzner and Patrick Toscano Jr.   Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho and Scutari have not yet announced their picks.

Members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards hold two-year terms and there is no hold-over status.

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