TRENTON, N.J. – A bill establishing that public servants who have yet to be sworn into office could be guilty of bribery, just like sitting politicians, cleared a legislative hurdle on Thursday when it passed both the Assembly and Senate unanimously.
“Political candidates have been permitted to sell the power of their future positions to solicit bribes for far too long. They need to be held accountable. It’s time to close the loophole,” Gregory McGuckin (R-Ocean), a prime sponsor of the legislation said.
The bill (A2472), which is also sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Auth and Marilyn Piperno, expands the definition of a public servant in existing bribery laws to include any person who has been elected, but not assumed office, and political candidates whose activities are subject to regulatory oversight by the Election Law Enforcement Commission.
“New Jersey law has let corrupt would-be politicians get away with crimes like bribery. We must preserve the public trust in our election process by fixing this broken system,” Auth (R-Bergen) said.
In 2021 and 2012, judges dismissed charges against two Hudson County Democrats who were running for mayor at the time they were accused of accepting bribes. They could not be convicted, because they did not technically hold public office.
“Candidates who take bribes should be punished so that they are never in position take public office in the future. They should be behind bars, not a taxpayer-funded desk,” Piperno (R-Monmouth) said.
The bill heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.