Five months after resigning as Bergen County sheriff after getting caught on tape making racist and homophobic statements, Michael Saudino is back in politics.
Bergen GOP chairman Jack Zisa announced tonight that Saudino would play an active role in the organization and will help Republicans raise money for their 2019 campaign.
“He’s been welcomed back to the Republicans,” Zisa told the New Jersey Globe. “I think he was very direct in his belief of where the state may be going under Demcoratic leadership.”
Saudino spoke briefly to Republicans attending a meeting at the Hackensack party headquarters, and according to sources in attendance, received enthusiastic applause.
Twice elected as a Republican, Saudino switched parties in 2016 as a political expedient way to win a third term. He quit last September after a recording of the sheriff making disparaging remarks about blacks and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, a Sikh, was obtained and released by WNYC.
“He talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state — better criminal justice reform. Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever the fuck they want, smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don’t worry about it. You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops,” Saudino was caught saying after attending the January 2018 inauguration of Gov. Phil Murphy.
Saudino said Murphy picked Grewal because of “the turban.”
Murphy and key Bergen County Democrats quickly demanded his resignation.
Zisa acknowledged that there may be some challenges to Saudino’s return, but believes it is in the best interest of the Republicans to have him back.
“I think as a law enforcement guy, he’s always had a Republican soul,” Zisa said. “He’s taken a hard look at where he stands.”
As for the tape, Zisa said the portion leaked to the media wasn’t Saudino’s entire statement.
“Mike has a lot to offer as an individual. We hope to be able to benefit by his experience,” Zisa said. “He comes with some challenges and some risk, but with every action there is a reaction.”
This story was updated at 10:34 PM to include comment from Zisa.