July 31, 2007

Sheriff McGettigan


McGettigan Supports Ethics and Pay-to-Play Reform
Sheriff says latest GOP plan doesn't go far enough;
proposes tougher ethics rules

(Linwood, NJ) - Today Atlantic County Sheriff Jim McGettigan, the Democratic nominee for County Executive, issued the following statement in response to today’s first reading of pay-to-play reforms being considered this evening by the Atlantic County Freeholder Board:

“I am thankful to both Republicans and Democrats alike on the Freeholder Board for considering what I’ve been pushing for all along – a comprehensive pay-to-play ban which would include contributions by county auditors. I have no quarrel with the reforms on the table, but we can do more to hold county government accountable for those who are working harder than ever to make ends meet and pay more in county taxes year after year.

The public demands governmental transparency and this is merely a first step to ridding the influence of money in local politics.

Today I’m recommending that the Freeholder Board consider the following proposals that would strengthen county ethics rules and go a step further in the pay-to-play debate.

  • Hold the County Executive to the same ethical standards as all county officials, along with the county’s constitutional row officers. The Democratic plan calls for reconstituting the county ethics board with Freeholder Board appointment of two Republicans, two Democrats and a non-partisan retired Superior Court Judge serving as the tie-breaking vote. The partisan appointees cannot be current elected officials or the spouse, child, grandchild, parent or grandparent of a current elected official. Under current law, the County Executive is not accountable to the ethics rules of Atlantic County government. The Ethics Board should be able to enforce sanctions against the County Executive and the county’s constitutional row officers for ethical wrongdoings.

  • Ban the revolving door – The Democrats want to have a three-year ban on employment with any vendors doing business with county government for all paid county employees – elected and appointed. Obviously this does not apply to county volunteer board members – just paid employees and elected officials. Failure to comply will result in immediate suspension of county contracts with any vendor who hires a county employee or paid elected official within the three-year window, AND such vendors will be prohibited from bidding on county government contracts for three years from the time of each violation.

  • Ban on county employees contributing to Atlantic County county-level candidates and Atlantic County political parties. County employees should not feel obliged, threatened or intimidated to support their employers.

  • Online Public Records – The Democratic plan calls for county public records to be posted on the county’s official website. This includes, but isn’t limited to: All payroll for county government employees and autonomous agency employees (including date of hire, title, salary, job descriptions); videotaped proceedings of the Freeholder Board; all Freeholder Board and volunteer board agendas and minutes; all contract proposals bid or not bid; all county permit applications from this point forward; budgets and audits; all expense reimbursements for county officials, elected and appointed; all legal notices and job postings; Health Code violations; county vehicle assignments with make, model, year and cost for each applicable employee; list of all county and county autonomous agency vendors and the amount of their contract awards.

Everywhere I go – from the WaWa in downtown Hammonton to the American Legion Hall in Somers Point, citizens from all walks of life are demanding open and accountable government. They want to know why they keep paying more every year and see so little in return for their tax dollars. Adopting all of these reforms will go a long way to restoring the public’s trust.”