TRENTON, N.J. – In an attempt to stop political payback by party bosses, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso introduced legislation, A-5861, this week that would prohibit any elected constitutional officer from holding a chairperson position in a municipal, county, or state political party committee.
“There are clear conflicts of interest that need to be acknowledged when elected officials also chair a political party,” DiMaso (R-Monmouth) said. “Perhaps the most blatant example is when chairs and co-chairs also serve as elected constitutional officers for a county where they are in charge of the same employees who decide their personal salaries and department budgets.”
In Monmouth County, Sheriff Shaun Golden also heads the county Republican Party and County Clerk Christine Hanlon serves as the party’s co-chairwoman.
“I have put up with being mistreated by the political bosses personally over the years, they have even attacked my children, but now clearly there are decisions being made which negatively and financially impact the taxpayers because these conflicts of interest are allowed to continue.”
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“We need only look towards the mess happening this election cycle to see that people who are vocal in their support of me are seemingly being punished for no reason other than sheer vindictiveness,” DiMaso continued. “Friends who work for the County have been transferred to other departments or further away from their homes. Worse, my dear friend former Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno was fired despite the amazing work she’s done feeding thousands in the State during the pandemic.”
Both officials received salary increases of 18% during the pandemic and their departments made costly purchases. Conversely, the surrogate, who can show no party affiliation once elected, has had no budget increase or pay raise. The latest published public records listed Golden’s salary as $173,692 a year and Hanlon’s salary as $116,425.
“Residents who hear about constitutional officers being allowed to hold political chair positions are shocked that we would allow this to happen. More So when they realize that those very people hold power over those who pay their salary. Think about it, a police chief would never be allowed to be a township administrator in charge of their own salary and budget while holding such a position of authority like chief of police. It would very clearly be a conflict of interest, yet this similar circumstance is allowed to go on. It’s time for us to pass legislation and stop this abuse of power.”
If enacted, DiMaso’s legislation would take effect immediately.