New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week proposed ethics reform measures that would require legislators to file the same financial disclosure statements submitted by the executive branch and also ban dual office holdings at all levels of government.
The Republican governor’s initiatives include mandating legislative members and their senior staff disclose financial information, and raising the maximum income and asset disclosure rate to $50 million from $500,000.
Christie also seeks to ban dual office holding at the state, county and local levels.
In 2007, lawmakers passed a bill to stop legislative members from holding more than one elected position, but current lawmakers with multiple jobs were grandfathered.
“Ethics reform in New Jersey has been patchwork of half measures that failed to be fair and uniform, left gaping loopholes for special interests to maneuver through, and fell far short of what the public demands,” Christie said in a statement. “These measures are about good, open, and honest government, where the playing field is level for everyone and the rules are unambiguous.”
Lawmakers who abuse their position should lose their pension benefits and those who commit first- through fourth-degree crimes should give up campaign funds, according to Christie’s plan.
The governor also aims to close loopholes on the awarding of government contracts.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said Christie’s proposal includes areas of likely agreement, though he and other Democrats pointed to Reform Jersey Now. As a nonprofit, that organization is exempt from disclosing its donors. It advocates smaller government and has promoted Christie’s initiatives.