Sungenis’ Ethical Quandary continued

Nancy Sungenis quandary gets ever more convoluted. Not only does Nancy serve as the vice chairperson of the Cumberland County Democratic Organization, but she is the County Superintendent of Elections (otherwise called Commissioner of Registration).

Commissioner of Registration
Mrs. Nancy L. Sungenis

555 Shiloh Pike
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
856-453-5801
(FAX) 856-451-3172

As a special state officer, she is subject to the State of New Jersey Code of Ethics. One would assume that it is difficult to violate New Jersey Ethics. New Jersey is lax on enforcement, and even more lax on what is ethically permissible. For instance, double-dipping and pay-to-play, while blatantly illegal in other states is condoned and even recommended in this state. Recent ethics reforms have done little to address the problems, serving only to legislate loopholes ensuring that violations persist.

However, there are a few strict laws in place.

Pursuant to section 23(a) (1) of the Conflicts Law, each State agency is required to promulgate a code of ethics to govern and guide the conduct of State employees and special State officers and employees in the agency. Each code must conform to the general standards set forth in section 23 of the Conflicts Law, but may be formulated with respect to the particular needs and problems of the agency to which the code is to apply and, when applicable, shall be a supplement to the uniform ethics code to be promulgated pursuant to section 23(a)(2) of the Conflicts Law.

We find it interesting that Lou Magazzu and Nancy Sungenis choose to overlook the Cumberland County ethics laws. Actually the county ethics laws are extremely vague, was this done on purpose? The New Jersey Code addresses Nancy’s illegal activity more directly.

In Case No. 435-77, the Commission determined that a Department of Health employee was permitted to serve as chairman or co-chairman of a public employees’ committee in support of a gubernatorial candidate. The State employee was cautioned that he must not use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for the candidate of his choice. Further, he must be careful not to permit his political activities to conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest.

Nancy Sungenis approved and signed a letter to the local media as well as to Registered Democratic voters endorsing an outright falsification of events, and supporting a specific candidate. This one-sided support for a political candidate is worrisome considering the position she holds. It causes some consternation among voters that she might not effectively and honestly fulfill her duties as an officer of the state charged with ensuring fair and honest elections.

Here are a few more interesting paragraphs concerning the interpretation of New Jersey Ethics laws in the New Jersey Uniform Ethics Code 2009.

In Case No. 34-85, two members of the Board of Dentistry were advised that N.J.S.A. 52:13D-24 expressly permits the solicitation and acceptance of campaign contributions for announced candidates for elective public office. The dentists were cautioned, however, about political activities which directly involve persons subject to licensure and review by the Board of Dentistry. The dentists sent letters, on personal stationery, to thousands of New Jersey licensed dentists, to solicit re-election campaign funds for a New Jersey Assemblyman.

In 1997, in Case No. 29-97, the Commission considered the effect of section 16(b) of the Conflicts Law on State officers and employees who serve as campaign treasurers. Section 16(b) prohibits State officers and employees from representing, appearing for or negotiating on behalf of, or agreeing to perform any of those activities for, a party other than the State in connection with any matter pending before any State agency. The Commission’s precedent has established that signing reports, making telephone calls, attending meetings and/or responding to inquiries by a State agency on behalf of a third party are acts of representation. Campaign reports must be signed by the campaign treasurer and submitted to the Election Law Enforcement Commission (“ELEC”), a State agency, and in the event of a complaint to ELEC, the treasurer would be required to appear in person or respond in writing to ELEC’s inquiry. Thus, a State officer or employee is prohibited from serving as a campaign treasurer because the treasurer’s duties include representing the campaign organization and/or the candidate before ELEC.

In Case No. 07-01, a County Superintendent of Elections employee was advised that his proposed participation in his friend’s campaign for municipal office was not appropriate under the application of section 23(e)(5), activity which might reasonably be expected to impair objectivity and independence of judgment, and section 23(e)(7), appearance of impropriety. In his official capacity, the employee supervised a staff of 53 employees, represented the Superintendent of Elections at necessary functions, and assisted voters and interested parties by providing requested records.

The employee expected to participate in the following political activities: door-to-door campaigning, participating in phone bank work, coordinating volunteers, giving instructions on election procedures, staffing the campaign headquarters, participating in voter registration drives, attending rallies and fundraising events, and preparing mailings to registered voters.
In prohibiting the activity, the Commission balanced the State employee’s interests with the public’s interest in ensuring fair and unbiased elections.

In Case No. 05-03, the Commission considered an allegation that a Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”) employee violated the Political Activities Prohibition of the DCA Code of Ethics when her name and picture appeared on a campaign mailer for a local mayoral candidate. The campaign mailer prominently featured the State employee in her capacity as a former mayor. It did not mention her role with the State and did not reference any relationship between the municipality and the DCA. Section XI, Political Activities Prohibition, of the DCA Code provides as follows:

An employee shall not directly or indirectly use or seek to use his authority or the influence of his position to control or modify the political action of another person. An employee during the hours of duty shall not engage in political activity; nor shall he at any other time participate in political activities, which would impair his usefulness in the position in which he is employed. A State employee retains the right to vote as he chooses and to express his opinions on political subjects and candidates.

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20 Responses to Sungenis’ Ethical Quandary continued

  1. millvillemagnus says:

    This is getting too awful. Doesn’t anyone in Cumberland County even CARE about these illegal activities? Certainly the press doesn’t.

  2. biggassbass says:

    Its sad really. I mean its really absurd. What is it going to take to get the media? We need to get this done cause if nobody knows, Lou wins

  3. SalarySam says:

    So does anyone know the proper office at the State to send a complaint or request for an investigation. Until there are consequences they are going to continue to ignore the legalities.

  4. If you are concerned about Sungenis’ disregard of the ethics code, you can file a complaint to:
    Election Law Enforcement Commission
    Steven M. Dodson
    Election Law Enforcement Commission
    P.O. Box 185
    Trenton, New Jersey 08625
    Phone (609) 984-7749
    Fax number (609) 777-1448
    steven.dodson@elec.state.nj.us

  5. A friend emailed this to us this morning:

    If I have information regarding what I suspect is a violation of the Conflicts Law, whom should I contact?

    You may call the State Ethics Commission’s toll-free hotline, 1-888-223-1355 or send a letter to the Executive Director, State Ethics Commission, P.O. Box 082, Trenton, NJ 08625-0082.

    Allegations may also be filed with the State agency employing the State officer or employee in accordance with procedures established by the agency. Upon receipt of an allegation, the State agency is required to file a copy of same with the State Ethics Commission. It is within the discretion of the Commission to direct the State agency to transfer the allegation to it. (N.J.A.C. 19:61-3.4) Notice of all determinations made by State agencies in connection with hearings conducted pursuant to N.J.A.C. 19:61-3.1 must be filed with the Commission. All determinations with respect to the Conflicts of Interest Law which involve the removal of a State officer or employee or any other disciplinary actions are effective only when approved by the Commission.

  6. millvillemagnus says:

    Why hasn’t Miles Jackson, with his lengthy rationalizations, chimed in on this one?

  7. tryagain says:

    Maybe because there is NOTHING illegal!!!! More mucn ado about Nothing!! Same thing as Ricky Tonetta moaning about stupid things like sign sizes!! What a bunch of crap! Sure eliminates him as a REAL legitimate candidate!! Guess he really doesn’t believe in the First Amendment if he crafted this idiotic ordinance. Sounds like a BIG BABY whining!! How pathetic Ricky!!!

  8. Whoknew says:

    One more possible violation: Did Nancy organize a Democrat Women’s luncheon that was held Saturday, October 3, 2009, where only Dem. women were invited to and Dem. candidates attended?

  9. Rev. Higgs Boson says:

    Blatant ethic violations, and these things have been going on for years. I’d say it’s time for a change.

  10. WuLi says:

    What a JOKE! The site prints the letter that has Sungenis signature. She APPROVED and SIGNED a letter that not only has a blatant lie (but there is nothing illegal about signing on to a total lie, unfortunately) and the site publishes the actual Ethics Code, and then Lou’s people say there was nothing illegal?

    This upcoming election is totally at risk if Sungenis is allowed to continue in her role as Commissioner of Registration. She violated the ethics code by publicly endorsing one candidate, and writing disparaging remarks about other candidates in letters that were published in everylocal newspaper.

    This illegal act was egregious and unprofessional. It will make the results of any Cumberland County election suspect, as she has proven that she will #1 Lie, #2 ignore ethics laws, and #3 attempt to influence voters towards certain candidates and away from others while sitting in an official capacity on the elections board.

    ONLY those that would benefit from elections fraud would find nothing wrong with her actions. Nancy Sungenis needs to be sanctioned before November if the citizens are to have any confidence in our electoral system.

  11. tryagain says:

    YEAH YEAH right WULI, tell it to the Judge or better yet to Greedy Gloria!! Nothing illegal here except perhaps your dreams!!

  12. What part of the following is unclear?

    “In Case No. 05-03, the Commission considered an allegation that a Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”) employee violated the Political Activities Prohibition of the DCA Code of Ethics when her name and picture appeared on a campaign mailer for a local mayoral candidate.”

    Nancy Sungenis signature appeared on a mailer, and on letters to the editor throughout the county supporting a freeholder candidate. That is clear, that is blatant, and it is surely inappropriate. But Team Magazzu has no qualms whatsoever about overstepping the bounds of the law to further its goals. “Appearance of Impropriety” is just as flagrant a transgression as an actual act of impropriety according to the Ethics Code.

  13. tryagain says:

    Operative words here are “the Commission considered an allegation”!! ” Considering” and “allegations” are just that!! Perhaps you should look them up in the dictionary!!

  14. WUU59X says:

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to see if Lou’s actions dealing with travel and NACO would be possible if he had to comply with the same ethics requirements as school board members? Fact is, he would have to have reimbursed the county THREE times the cost of his travel, registration and expenses. And obviously, he would not have been able to shake down contributors.

  15. There is a book written by Roy Morrison Jr. It’ called Fraud of the Century. He talks about a CERTAIN Political group. I beleive he talks about the D’S?I’am wandering if he noticed that there is some kind of trend going on and wants the people who can think on there own to beaware of what’s going on in Governmet.He happened to be on C-span3 History.I’am wandering if any one else was wacthing.It was down in Nashville Tenn. Public Library if my mind serves me correctly.INTERESTING?

  16. Hey Alex says:

    Please check the spelling. It’s wondering not wandering. And I mean that with the most respect. I’ve seen this several times.

  17. tryagain says:

    Poor Alex!! He is still living in the Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh world!! News Flash for you Alex!! They are losers!! The Contract with America signed by Frank Lobiondo is history! You know the whole term limit thing Frank promised us? Keep reading your FAR FAR right wing books! It’s good for the imagination and the conspiracy theorists! Send Rush a few dollars or some prescription drugs, he needs them!!

  18. mango says:

    I hate to see this website devolve into partisan squabble. It has nothing to do, as far as I am concerned, with elections at the state or national level. It has everything to do with the bad governance Lou offers in Cumberland County. As a Democrat, I despise Limbaugh and his ilk. As a county resident, I really want to see Lou’s power hold on the county broken. Even if he gets back in and his running mates don’t make it, it will be some progress — the needle nudged a bit, so to speak. We will then have to keep this website alive to focus on county government and continue to publicize Lou’s transgressions. I will say this for the Republicans, however. They are doing a great job uncovering facts that call into question the ethics of the county Democratic party. They are going after Lou vigorously and persistently, which is what it will take to topple him.

  19. Guess-Who says:

    mango:
    It is INDEPENDENTS that make Up the most Reg. VOTERS in the STATE of NJ.(50%+)
    IT is NOT just Repub’s on this Site.
    It is Dem’s & Independents that are also including the Facts to Magazzuwatch.
    The Days are almost over for this Current group of Incumbent Freeholders in CC.
    Nov 3,2009

    The PEOPLE have had Enough of the EXCUSES from these Individuals.
    12 yrs is Long Enough for anyone to Serve in an Elected Position on a Freeholder Board.
    New Faces & Fresh Ideas will be the CHANGE that is Needed to Move Our Communities into the 21st Century.

    Where is the Alternative Energy Plan at the County Level?
    We will be LAST again in S. Jersey to Install on/at Our County Buildings.

    ________________________________________
    Checks & Balance make the County a Better Place

  20. SalarySam says:

    Was Nancy Sungenis with Lord Lou at any of the NACo events?

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