Two former New Jersey political powerhouses joined NJTV’s Michael Aron on his weekly show, On the Record, this week to discuss the 2013 gubernatorial race, the 2014 U.S. Senate race and to reminisce about the good old days… the governors they served under and how the climate has changed in Trenton since the days when they held power.
Democrat Joe Doria served in the State Assembly from 1980-2004. He was Speaker in the 1990-1992 session. Doria left the Assembly after losing the Democratic primary in 2003. In 2004, he was elected by the Hudson Democratic Committee to fill the State Senate term vacated by the death of Senator Glenn Cunningham, who was also the mayor of Jersey City. Doria also served as mayor of Bayonne from July of 1998 through October of 2007. He resigned from the Senate and as mayor when Governor Jon Corzine nominated him to become the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, one of the most powerful Cabinet positions in the State. His public career came to a sudden end in July of 2009 when Corzine announced his resignation as DCA commissioner after his home was raided in the Operation Bid Rig sweep the resulted in 44 arrests. Doria was never arrested and the U.S Attorney’s Office cleared him of all charges in October of 2011.
Republican John Bennett is chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Committee. He served in the State Legislature for 24 years, 10 in the Assembly and 14 in the Senate. While a Senator, Bennett was co-president of the chamber with Richard Codey during first two years of the McGreevey administration. Bennett was Acting Governor for 3 1/2 days, during the week between the Whitman/DiFrancesco administration and the McGreevey administration when New Jersey had five governors…DiFrancesco, Codey, Bennett, former Attorney General John Farmer and McGreevey.
Bennett’s career as a senator came to an end after he was defeated at the polls by Ellen Karcher, then a member of the Marlboro Township Committee. The Asbury Park Press ran Bennett out of office with a relentless series of articles, over a period of months, over a billing irregularity while he was Marlboro’s Township Attorney. Bennett was cleared of any wrong doing by the Feds in March of 2007.
Bennett is collecting a $90,000 annual pension from his years in the legislature and a plethora of part time law appointments tacked together to provide a handsome income.
In Chris Christie:The Inside Story of His Rise to Power, authors Bob Ingle and Michael Symons describe U.S. Attorney Christie’s reluctance to use Solomon Dwek as informant during the Operation Bid Rig investigation in 2006. “Do I really want to get in bed with this guy?” Christie is described as asking his deputies who were pushing for approval to make Dwek an informant.
Ironically given how Democrats and defendants have argued that the July 2009 arrests based on Dwek’s sting were politically motivated to help Christie, the Deputy U.S. Attorneys advocating the sting argued to Christie that he would have been acting politically if he did not approve Dwek’s cooperation.
If this Star Ledger article by Matt Friedman is an indication of charades to come this summer, the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee will make Joe Oxley’s confirmation hearing for his Superior Court Judgeship nomination a payback for the unceremonious end to former House Speaker, Senator and Commissioner of Community Affairs Joe Doria’s career when he his home was raided during the July 2009 federal operation.
Doria has been cleared of any wrongdoing. He has a letter from the U.S. Attorney, just like John Bennett does, but his career in public service is over. Maybe Doria can become Chairman of the Hudson County Democrats some day.
U.S. Senate nominee Joe Kryillos is in the Democrats sites as well. Dwek is the ammunition.
Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski Tuesday issued a list of questions for Kyrillos, including how often he met with Dwek, what was discussed, who else was in attendance and whether he was ever contacted by law enforcement about it. “If you deny this and suggest Dwek is lying, does that raise the possibility with you that Dwek’s testimony that convicted others should be questioned?” Wisniewski wrote.
Kyrillos campaign spokesman Chapin Fay did not directly respond to Wisniewski, instead repeating that Kyrillos did nothing to help Dwek.
During the trial of Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez it was revealed that among the diobalical schemes Dwek deployed in the 14 years leading to his 2006 arrest was a life insurance scam. Dwek paid the life insurance premiums of people close to death who could not afford to keep their policies. Upon the death of the insured, Dwek would give the deceased’s family 10% of the policy proceeds and pocket the rest.
Dwek’s father tried to get Soloman a pardon from President George W. Bush. Maybe President Obama will pardon Dwek if he helps knock Chris Christie down a notch and helps keep Bob Menendez in the Senate.