Yesterday Governor bans ‘pay-to-play’. Order toughens law but leaves some loopholes
Here’s some background information:
The law passed last spring allows generous donors to county political parties to win lucrative state contracts. It also allows donors to the state party in control of the governor’s office to win contracts awarded through a “fair and open process,” which need not select the lowest bidders. Critics such as Common Cause have called the new law “a sham” because of those and other loopholes.
And while the law does not become effective until Jan. 1, 2006, McGreevey’s order will go into effect Oct. 15. Although a new governor could rescind the executive order when McGreevey resigns Nov. 15, Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), who is in line to become acting governor, vowed to keep it in effect.
Long-term NJ residents like myself don’t put much faith in politicians’ vows, especially when we hear “As long as the sun continues to rise in the East and set in the West while I am acting governor, this executive order will remain in place.” Roberto, for instance, even questions whether this is just another McGreevey maneuver to keep himself in office after November 15. Never mind that anything that starts with “As long as . . . ” reminds me of Scarlett O’Hara vowing never to go hungry again.
The NJ government fiscal year ends on September 30, and next year’s budget has already gone through. The new executive order (not a law) doesn’t come into effect until October 15. There’s plenty of reason to cast doubt on an executive order that
a. doesn’t affect the current budget or next year’s
b. is issued by a lame-duck governor, and
c. has built-in escape clauses, such as
McGreevey’s order bars contributors to gubernatorial candidates and state or county parties from getting any state contract worth $17,500 or more unless it is awarded to meet an “immediate need.”
Will an “immediate need” be more powerful than “the sun continu[ing] to rise in the East and set in the West”, IF there’s an acting governor? We’ll see.