Politickernj writers Darryl Isherwood and Max Pizarro posted an in depth piece yesterday afternoon that exposes an incestuous web of influence driving planning, zoning and development approvals before the Middlesex County Freeholder Board and several municipal planning boards in the county.
State Senator Bob Smith of Piscataway is the leader of the PACs that fund the campaigns of the Freeholders and municipal officials who approve the applications. The applicants are donors to the PACs. Smith is the applicants’ attorney.
It’s all legal. And no one would know about it if not for Harold Kane of Monroe Township painstakingly examining thousands of pages of ELEC reports to find out where all the Middlesex Democratic money was coming from and the good journalists at Politickernj and The Star Ledger following the money.
Smith, the Senator working the system, and Peter Barnes, the Assemblyman and Middlesex County Democratic Chairman who’s candidates benefit from the system, know the solution to this “craziness.” Barnes said that “any impetus to close the hole lies with the legislature.” Smith said, “There is a solution to the craziness we have now and that is publicly financed elections – or complete transparency. “In New Jersey, we have nothing but chaos. The state needs one set standard across the state.”
Where is their legislation? Smith and Barnes are both powerful members of the legislature. They obviously know how the work the system. They know how to fix it.
Sponsor the legislation gentlemen. Publicly financed elections won’t work. Complete transparency will.
Here’s a campaign finance system that would be transparent:
1) Remove all limits on campaign contributions.
2) Require that all candidates and campaigns disclose all contributions of any amount on a dedicated website within 24 hours of receipt.
3) Competing campaigns, good citizens like Kane, and good journalist will examine the donations and expose influence. Voters will decide if the influence is acceptable of not.
Correction: Peter Barnes, Jr, the Middlesex Democratic Chairman is no longer in the legislature. His son, Peter III is an Assemblyman.
Now there are two Barnes and a Smith who can advocate for legislation that creates complete transparency.