Independent Candidate’s press release for Board of Ethics

The following is the complete press release from the Independent Candidates, you know, the people that Lou Magazzu falsely claims “have not said what they stand for.” Of course, Lou HAS to lie. If he admits that they have fully disclosed what they stand for, he would have to admit that they have been up front in opposing the corruption and ethical lapses that seem to permeate his administration.

In February, 2009, the Cumberland County Board of Freeholders modified the code of ethics to include the right to raise funds for Lou Magazzu’s  failed NACO (National Association of Counties) attempt to be elected to an office with the organization.  While revisiting the code of ethics, nothing was done to establish the County Board of Ethics who would  make decisions on the propriety of such ventures.

The Republican Freeholder candidates have come up with a plan to do so, and as Independent Leaders we offer our solution.
The Board of Ethics should be comprised of six members (none of whom would be elected officials).  No more than three members could be from one political party and no more than one person from a particular town.  All freeholders would be responsible for forming the committee, as opposed to the current form which gives the appointment power to only the Director (with advise and consent of the other freeholders) and also allows for two freeholders to serve on the board.  We do not believe that would provide impartiality.  Other counties have developed their ethics boards using similar guidelines.

This Board of Ethics would settle mostly conflict of interest situations, disclosure issues,  and other such issues.  Complaints regarding criminal conduct would still be referred to the County Prosecutors Office, Discrimination issues to the NJ.Division of Civil Rights, etc.

The first issue the Board of Ethics would tackle is the development of a comprehensive ethics code for the county which would be submitted and approved by the Freeholders.  This would eliminate the situation where the code was amended to benefit only one Freeholder.

In addition, because of the recent attention to unethical behaviors in county government, we are calling on the Freeholders to conduct an ethics audit.

This audit would include a review of past actions, including potential pay to play violations, taxpayer funded trips, freeholders receiving free trips from the freeholder director using funds from citizens with interests in doing business with the county,  taxpayer funded free lunches, spending funds without freeholder votes,  spending taxpayers funds for other than the public good, and excessive out of county campaign contributions.

In addition, the Freeholders should call upon the Attorney General of the state of NJ for assistance in leading an ethics training seminar for county administrators,  county boards and commissions, and constitutional officers (Surrogate, Sherriff, and County Clerk).   This training would give the tools to the individuals at the front line of corruption prevention and serves as a pro active device to stop the spread of corruption in our state.

Finally, for those individuals who have approached our campaign with information they feel is of the criminal nature, we urge them to send detailed information to the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s office where the facts can be best handled.   We will be doing the same with any information that we have received.

Jane Christy                                  Jennifer Swift                                Bruce Peterson

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