Two mayors and two state legislators are among 11 public officials arrested in New Jersey as part of a corruption investigation, the U.S. attorney's office in Trenton announced Thursday.
"The defendants allegedly demanded and accepted payments ranging from $1,500 to $17,500 at any one time," the release from the U.S. attorney's office alleges. "In most cases, the defendants sought to establish and perpetuate a corrupt relationship with the cooperating witnesses to continue receiving bribes."
State Assemblymen Mims Hackett Jr. and Alfred E. Steele -- both Democrats -- and Passaic Mayor Samuel Rivera are among those arrested, the news release says.
Steele also serves as undersheriff in Passaic County, just outside Newark. Hackett is also mayor of Orange.
Also arrested were Keith O. Reed, the chief of staff to the Newark City Council president, Passaic Councilman Marcellus Jackson and former Passaic Councilman Jonathan Soto, the release states.
Five current and former school board members in Pleasantville, just outside Atlantic City, were arrested, too: Jayson G. Adams, James T. McCormick, James A. Pressley, Rafael Velez and Maurice Callaway, who also serves on the City Council.
A private citizen, Louis Mister, was snatched up in the sting as well, the release states.
"Each of the 11 public officials and one associate accepted the corrupt payments from companies that offered insurance brokerage or roofing services to school districts and municipalities," according to the news release.
Color me surprised. Or not. I'm sure just about every single state has its own corruption problems but Jersey is pretty synonymous with it. I can't think of a state with a worse repuation off the top of my head, though Chicago and New Orleans probably beat it on a city-level comparrison. I'm surprised the investigation even went through quite frankly. DA's are usually political appointees and this entire state is pretty well-wired by the Dems. No one is very eager to investigate their own in most cases and it almost always degenerates into a war between the parties.
I think I would like to be a politician. I'm sure it's not possible at this point for various reasons, but I always thought it might have been a pretty good occupational choice for me in an alternate reality. I mean, I'm sort of a wonk when it comes to politics. It's died down a bit, but I used to practically immerse myself into every bit of news and fluff that came out of Washington. I also like to believe that I'm a generally personable individual. I'm not sure it's full blown charisma or anything, but I tend to be relatively glib though with a tendancy to sometimes say things I should keep under wraps. Certainly if I were planning for a political career, I would have to scrub God only knows how many ill-advised forum and LJ entries and we all know that nothing can ever really be deleted from the web nowadays.
So sure, it's clearly a pipe dream but it still seems like a nice idea. After all, politicians have it pretty sweet. Congressmen get some great health care and there's a good pension after you get thrown out of office and a pretty nice salary (~165k / year) while you're there. Add in there the amount of graft you pick up on the side and the prestige and it sounds like a good idea to me.