Will S-1500 force Sen. Singleton to resign from his job?

New Jersey Democrats are in the process of making a pig’s breakfast of efforts to reform the use of “dark money” to influence elections, as well as the operations and processes of government.  Legislation proposed by Senator Troy Singleton (D-07) seeks to require “disclosure by independent expenditure committees; raises certain campaign contribution limits; repeals ban on certain intraparty fund transfers.”  The Bill is S-1500.

We strongly support full disclosure and are great fans of groups like Common Cause and RepresentUS, which campaign for transparency and honest government.  That said, along with open government comes the need to enforce laws against those vigilantes who use the data from such to harass and harm those who chose to financially support a political candidate or committee. 

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that making a political contribution to a candidate of your choice is a form of free speech – protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  Disclosure should not be a means by which thugs can target the homes, families, and employment of individuals who exercise that right.  From the NAACP seeking to protect its donors from southern KKK groups to Christian groups seeking the same protection from wealthy LGBT activists, disclosure will soon lose its popular support if it becomes a means to vengeance or violence. 

Particularly as some Democrats are seeking to recruit and politicize the actual criminal class (including violent criminals), S-1500 should include tough sanctions to protect the free expression of political choice.  And this is just as important for Democrat Party primaries as it is for General Elections, if you get our drift… so don’t cut your own nuts off just to spite someone else.

S-1500 amends existing law to increase campaign contribution limits, but neglects to address the glaring deficiencies in the rules enforced by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJELEC).  Take this portion of the bill as a for instance:

“No individual, other than an individual who is a candidate, no corporation of any kind organized and incorporated under the laws of this State or any other state or any country other than the United States, no labor organization of any kind which exists or is constituted for the purpose, in whole or in part, of collective bargaining, or of dealing with employers concerning the grievances, terms or conditions of employment, or of other mutual aid or protection in connection with employment, or any group shall: (1) pay or make any contribution of money or other thing of value to a candidate who has established only a candidate committee, his campaign treasurer, deputy campaign treasurer or candidate committee which in the aggregate exceeds [$2,600] $3,000 per election… No candidate who has established only a candidate committee, his campaign treasurer, deputy campaign treasurer or candidate committee shall knowingly accept from an individual, other than an individual who is a candidate, a corporation of any kind organized and incorporated under the laws of this State or any other state or any country other than the United States, a labor organization of any kind which exists or is constituted for the purpose, in whole or in part, of collective bargaining, or of dealing with employers concerning the grievances, terms or conditions of employment, or of other mutual aid or protection in connection with employment, or any group any contribution of money or other thing of value which in the aggregate exceeds [$2,600] $3,000 per election…”

Why is it a bigger deal for a labor union to contribute $3,001 to a candidate or incumbent, but no big deal to throw a six-figure job, benefits, and a pension at him?  Because that’s what is being done.

Let’s look at the case of Senator Troy Singleton as an example.  On his personal financial disclosure statement covering 2017 (the latest available), the Senator lists that he was paid in excess of $50,000 by the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters.  This was the largest portion of his income.  His personal financial disclosure statements (2011-2016) all list the same source of income.  

And it’s not like Singleton was a union carpenter who worked his way up through the ranks and was rewarded by his brothers and sisters.  Singleton was a political operative a lieutenant in the regime of south Jersey political boss George Norcross.  Singleton worked for Norcross captain Joe Roberts, a Camden County Assemblyman who was made Speaker of that chamber.  His hiring was a straight political act.

So let’s get serious.  If you want to take out the corruption, dry up the money, stop ignoring the elephant in the room. 

But hey, if you are looking to put out press releases that congratulates yourself on some bullshit tweak that will go the same way as all the other bullshit tweaks… well, this is the kind of legislation that will accomplish that.  Just like old Joe Roberts’ “Clean Elections” b.s. of more than a decade ago.  Yep, old Joe was so committed to the people of New Jersey, that the moment he retired he got out of the crap hole he helped to create and moved to a low tax Red State.  Joe Roberts might be a hypocrite, but he was no fool.

The Democrat Party vendor blog, InsiderNJ, recently reported that Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-03) was in support of S-1500.  This is curious, given his own sources of income.  In an ethics case from 2013, documents from the United States Labor Department were entered into the record, stating the following:

“As Senate President, Steve Sweeney is paid $49,000 per year, plus an “allowance equal to 1/3 his compensation” ($16,333) for a total of $65,333.

Steve Sweeney is also an official with the Iron Workers union.  As a general organizer paid through the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, AFL-CIO, Sweeney received a base salary of $165,264 in 2012.  In addition to his base salary, Sweeney also received compensation in the form of allowances and disbursements for expenses. His total compensation through the International in 2012 was $206,092.

In addition, Sweeney received allowances of $21,351 as President of Iron Workers District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity. In 2012, Sweeney's total compensation through the Iron Workers was $227,443.

The Department of Labor requires public disclosure by labor unions of how union dues are spent.  These disclosures list union employees, their salaries and allowances.  The disclosure also includes the allocation of time by union officers and employees estimating the amount of time spent on various activities such as organizing or administration.  One of the purposes of this disclosure is to show how much the union has spent on its core activities: collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.  Non-members working in a union environment are obligated to pay dues, but only to support these core activities.

According to disclosure filings by the International, Sweeney spends a considerable amount of his time as a union official on activities described as ‘Political Activities and Lobbying.’ (LM-2, Schedule 12, Disbursements to Employees, Line I, Schedule 16)

What political activities did he engage in and on behalf of which candidates and causes? The explanation offered as part of the disclosure describes political activity as ‘to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of anyone to a Federal, state, or local executive, legislative or judicial public office, or office in a political organization, or the election of Presidential or Vice Presidential electors, and support for or opposition to ballot referenda.’ (Instructions for Form LM-2 Labor Organization Annual Report, page 27)

Lobbying is described as ‘associated with dealing with the executive and legislative branches of the Federal, state, and local governments and with independent agencies and staffs to advance the passage or defeat of existing or potential laws or the promulgation or any other action with respect to rules or regulations (including litigation expenses).’ 

Senator Sweeney is not registered as a lobbyist with the United States Senate or House of Representatives.  He is not a registered lobbyist in Pennsylvania.  The union that pays Sweeney's salary does not use outside lobbyists.  Instead, it uses an employee as its primary lobbyist – registered with both the House and Senate.  It is interesting to note that the primary lobbyist in Washington allocates only 50% of his time to political activity and lobbying.

New Jersey state law does not appear to allow legislators to simultaneously serve as lobbyists. 

Questions concerning Senator Sweeney's political activity and lobbying for the Iron Workers union become a more serious matter when the amount of time allocated to these activities is noted.  Calculating the value of that allocation as a portion of Sweeney's compensation adds further emphasis. 

Sweeney spent 30% of his union effort in 2012 on political activity and lobbying.  In 2011 and 2010, the amount was 38%.  In 2009, the amount was 34%.  There is no indication of the actual amount of time Sweeney devoted to these activities, only the proportion of the whole.

Placing dollar amounts on Sweeney's activity helps put matters into an easily understandable form.  In 2012, Sweeney's gross pay was $165,264, and his total compensation was $227,443.  In simple terms, Sweeney was paid $49,579 of his gross, or $68,233 of his total compensation, to engage in political activity and lobbying for the union.  In 2011, Sweeney was paid $62,141 of his total compensation for political activity and lobbying.  In 2010, $58,377, and in 2009, $56,669.”

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In Senator Sweeney’s defense, it must be said that he started his career as a blue collar man.  Sweeney was an actual ironworker, served his apprenticeship and earned his way.  He wasn’t a fake like Troy Singleton.

As for the ethics complaint.  It was brought before the New Jersey State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ethical Standards, that august body where ethics goes to die.  They duly heard the complaint, killed a few chickens, and closely examined the entrails… before the Norcross lieutenant who chaired the committee delivered a lecture to the complainant about daring to bring such affronts before them.  Don’t you know man, this is New Jersey!

And it’s not just these guys.  Most of the Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature are in hock to some machine, serving some master, living off pay checks courtesy of some regime.  Do they recuse themselves when presented with a conflict of self-interest?  Of course not!  That’s why they are there.  People like Senator Nick Sacco (with three public jobs and collecting a public pension) and Teresa Ruiz (two public jobs, with a third for her spouse) routinely vote on legislation that directly benefits the political machines that pay them.  That’s why they are there.

David Goodman, a spokesperson for Represent New Jersey, recently had this to say about political reform in New Jersey:  “Partisan Gerrymandering serves to strengthen the forces and effectiveness of dark money.  What it really amounts to is rigging elections—politicians prioritizing big donors to get elected, and then redrawing their districts to stay in office. They are picking their voters, instead of the other way around.”

He noted that just a month ago, Represent New Jersey alongside coalition partners, like the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, organized the fight against the partisan gerrymandering bills with action alerts, countless calls to legislators, impromptu hallway lobbying and in-person advocacy at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Facing massive grassroots pressure, the Senate President and Assembly Speaker pulled the amendment.  RepresentUs members showed that this movement is ready to fight against corruption by those in power—regardless of party affiliation.

Goodman says he is excited that the state Senate is holding hearings on S-1500, on January 17th.   He should temper that excitement with realism and know that they are playing him and RepresentUS.  And that’s okay, so long as he knows, and then uses that knowledge to turn it around… and play them.

NJGOP should try to stop sale of New Jersey college to Chinese Navy.

The Chinese Navy… yes, the Communist Chinese Navy… is trying to purchase a college in New Jersey.

For nearly a century, Westminster Choir College (part of Rider University), has been one of America’s leading academic institutions for advanced musical studies, with a core mission of “training ministers (with music as their ministry) in the Christian evangelical tradition.”  It is also one of America’s national treasures for classical music.  The college’s Westminster Choir has performed with the New York Philharmonic over 300 times, more than any other organization. 

This story has been reported extensively… from the New York Times to Fox News, but now there's opposition to a Chinese government-owned defense contractor for the Chinese Navy trying to buy it.

An alumni group, the Westminster Foundation, has sued to stop Rider University from selling it, claiming that the Chinese government would have a direct foothold in America academia.

The Westminster Foundation’s lawsuit contends that the company intended to run the school, Princeton Westminster International, is really owned by Bejing Wenhuaxuexin Education, which is a subsidiary of Bejing Kaiwen Education Technology, "a for-profit Chinese entity owned and controlled by the government of China."

The lawsuit states that just three weeks before it announced its intent to buy Westminster, Kaiwen changed its name from Jiangsu Zhongtai Bridge Steel Structure Company, "a manufacturer of components of Chinese naval vessels and is a defense contractor" for China's military," in order "to create the veneer and seeming appearance of an education entity to justify its acquisition of Westminster Choir College."

Security experts believe that the real reason the Chinese government wants to buy Westminster Choir College is to gain a foothold in Princeton’s regional academic community and then exploit Princeton's reputation as a center of studies for the U.S. intelligence community.  The United States government maintains contracts at known research centers in high tech, defense, and cyberspace that happen to be near Westminster's campus. Westminster Choir College is a tiny music school in one of the most sensitive centers of intelligence and defense research in the world.

The attorney for the Westminster Foundation recently was quoted:  "For the first time in American history, an American college would have been taken over by a unit of a foreign authoritarian foreign dictatorship, which is what China is. The sad reality is that academic freedom disappears, true education disappears, the ability to create music, drama culture, to study religion disappears because all of these things are subject to censorship in China."

So… what is the NJGOP going to do about it?

This is a made to order issue for Republicans and right-thinking Democrats alike.  So who is going to step up?

Martin Marks is a strange kind of “conservative”

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The NJGOP is in an existential fight for its very survival.  The fighting confidence of its flag officers has been shattered and its field officers are rattled.  Nothing they have tried has worked.  Too often they are saved by chance and the victories won are by means less unconventional.  The commanders at NJGOP HQ need to re-think their assumptions, come up with a new strategy, and re-tool their tactics.

Conversely, morale is high amongst the troops.  In some ways, it has never been higher.  Thousands of registered Republicans and ideological conservatives, libertarians, and Trumpian populists engage the machine Democrats and socialist left each day on social media.  They do this on their own – without prodding or direction from their leaders.  They are keen for battle and ready.

What the NJGOP lacks is an NCO class.  It lacks on-the-ground leaders in towns, neighborhoods, parishes, churches, gun-clubs, PTAs, taxpayers’ groups, and community associations to take the message from the generals to the troops, focus them, and then get it done. 

So the job of any thinking conservative who genuinely cares about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in New Jersey is to help mold that new strategy, the new message, and then to motivate and train a new corps of grassroots NCOs.  This is what must be done and we need everyone focused on doing it.

But people are naturally selfish and cannot be relied upon to set aside their ambitions to do what so desperately needs to be done.  Even in the midst of a crisis, some will continue to  grab for whatever remains to satisfy a swollen ego. 

And so we have the madness of Martin Marks, of late the Mayor of Scotch Plains and someone who likes the activity of running for higher office.  Having failed to achieve it as a Republican, he has announced that he will run as an Independent or Third Party candidate.  Yes, you heard that right:  Unable to accept defeat, he seeks annihilation. 

The annihilation of such a once promising candidate would be sad.  He could be an asset to his party.  But it is worse than that, because Martin Marks intends to run against the Prime Sponsor of the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, and in doing so Martin Marks will almost certainly ensure her defeat by a machine Democrat or Democratic Socialist. 

In consciously choosing this path – to be on the November ballot, ripping votes out of the heart of the Republican coalition, to the benefit of some Leftist – Martin Marks will most assuredly and consciously be participating in the election of some rabidly pro-illegal immigration, pro-human trafficking, pro-criminal, pro-abortion, pro-Planned Parenthood, anti-law enforcement, anti-Religious Liberty, anti-Second Amendment, anti-First Amendment, anti-Bill of Rights, anti-Constitution scumbag.  Why would any thinking person who claims to be a “conservative” do this?

In stories printed elsewhere, Martin Marks has claimed that he is a supporter of President Donald Trump and that he is running because others within the NJGOP have expressed their concerns about the President’s tone and policies.  Some have noted, for instance, that the President’s tax cut plan passed last year ended up putting congressional Republicans – and, by extension, the NJGOP – on the wrong side of the property tax issue.  There is no disputing that the Democrats seized upon it to campaign to the right of Republicans on property taxes.  In New Jersey, that is deadly for any Republican candidate.  And it was.

It should be noted, that Martin Marks himself was a critic of Donald Trump, even after Trump was assured the nomination.  Marks went out of his way to write a column in SaveJersey that pissed all over Donald Trump:

“I am not happy that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party for President. In a field that at first rivaled the size of your typical Kentucky Derby, Trump was my last choice. “ (Martin Marks)

Having said that – which, of course, is his right – why would Martin Marks then use others’ concerns with Donald Trump as an excuse to assure the election of a machine Democrat or Democratic Socialist?

There is a job for Martin Marks to do and it is an important one.  If he wants to show that he can motivate and lead, there is something that he can do this year that will unite Republicans and conservatives around him.  Recent changes to the law now allow candidates for school board in New Jersey to bracket together and run as a team.  They don’t run as Democrats or Republicans, these are non-partisan elections, but they can run as pro-taxpayer or pro-traditional values.

People like Martin Marks can be leaders in the NJGOP fightback by going school district by school district in his county and recruiting like-minded people to run for school board.  Then he can provide direction and guidance to see them through to victory… his victory and a victory for our movement.  Instead of destroying, he will be building.  

The school board is everything.  Every day we hear people complain that kids don’t know the Constitution, they don’t know their history, geography, the process of government, and their responsibilities as citizens.  Well take the school boards over and teach them!  Children only know socialism because they have only been taught socialism.  That’s our fault… but we now have this great tool to recruit, run, and take it back.  What we lack are people with a working knowledge of campaigning who are willing to set aside their own egos and spend a cycle or two building the party.  After 2021, the districts will all be different again and new opportunities will be present, only now you will have built something. 

Conservatives seek to C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E the institutions that are the vessels of our values and hopes.  The Republican Party in New Jersey is in an existential fight for survival.  For better or worse, it is the best political institution we have to conduct the fight from the right.  Don’t work to weaken it.  Don’t kill it.  If you do, your soul will regret the part you played in doing so.

Caution on that poll from Let’s Drive NJ Campaign

The Pro-Illegal immigration lobbying group, Let’s Drive NJ Campaign, recently released the results of a poll they paid to have done.  The poll purports to support claims that New Jersey voters are wildly in favor of handing over a New Jersey driver’s license to anyone who decides to over-stay their visa or who sneaks across the border illegally.  

The poll is being used to stampede frightened Democrats into opening up new employment opportunities to illegal, non-union transport workers – and to silence squeamish Republicans.  No doubt the Star-Ledger will make use of such a law to further drive down the costs of distributing its newspaper.

That said, before taking the poll too seriously (and it did sample just 561 people statewide), take a moment to read how the questions were structured.  Actually it is more of a messaging development document than a poll on what people actually believe.  In other words, if prompted by questions X and Y, would you respond to question Z in such and such a way.  Here is a humorous send up on how it is done…

Pushing for a $15 minimum wage, the Star-Ledger pays its drivers $10 an hour (are any undocumented?)

The Star-Ledger doesn’t report the news.  As Editor Tom Moran wrote (November 1, 2018):  “Our core mission is helping voters decide which lever to pull.” 

That’s right, the Star-Ledger is a advocacy organization.  First and foremost, you can always depend on the Star-Ledger to lobby for its own bottom line. 

For years, the newspaper was a strident supporter of the New Jersey State Supreme Court’s Abbott Decision – which forces working class families in suburban and rural New Jersey to subsidize the property taxes of wealthy corporations and professionals in urban areas.  Among those wealthy corporations was the parent corporation that owns the Star-Ledger, whose property holdings were so extensive in Newark that the city named a street… no, make that a plaza, after the Star-Ledger

Now comes this new hypocrisy.

A few days before Christmas, the New Jersey Globe reported that while editorializing for a $15 minimum wage, the Star-Ledger  was paying workers at $10 an hours, with no benefits.  The corporation that owns the Star-Ledger is itself owned by one of the richest families in America. 

Here’s an excerpt from the New Jersey Globe:

The state’s largest daily newspaper ran an advertisement in Wednesday’s print edition seeking drivers for newspaper deliveries willing to work 2-3 hours daily, “starting around 3 AM,” with a typical bi-weekly compensation that starts at $400.   That could mean less than $10-per-hour.

To get a job like that, applicants must have their own cars. Star-Ledger drivers – they call them Delivery Service Providers — receive no benefits; they “are independently contacted, meaning they are self-employed” and receive 1099s.   Minimum wage laws do not apply.

There is no paid vacation time, no workers compensation, and since drivers do not handle collections, there are no gratuities involved.

“The job, once the bastion of neighborhood kids looking to make a few extra bucks on their bikes, has evolved into a grueling nocturnal marathon for low-income workers who toil almost invisibly on the edge of the economy,” wrote Associated Press reporter Michael Levenson in 2016.

Today the Star-Ledger once again editorialized for drivers’ licenses for resident undocumented immigrants illegally in the United States.  Is this another self-serving position for the owners to take?  Will this help drive down the cost of newspaper distribution?  We wonder if there are any internal memos on this?

While the Star-Ledger and its owners are up on all the latest virtue-signaling, paying just enough lip-service to reassure the cocktail set that they are good and worthy people, their actions seek to drive down the wages of American workers, while creating an immigrant class of toiling wage slaves.  Raising the minimum wage is a farce until you can control the gray economy that doesn’t abide by such rules.  Normalizing the gray economy (by things like drivers licenses) will only solidify its position as an alternative workforce.

And while the Democrats talk about the minimum wage, Governor Murphy is doing his utmost to flood the state with illegal labor that every economist tells us will drive down wages.  When there is more of something, you pay less, we all know that.  Either the Democrats are well-meaning but stupid, or they are engaging in the very same hypocrisy that the Star-Ledger is engaging in.

Here is the original New Jersey Globe story:

https://newjerseyglobe.com/media/star-ledger-editorializes-in-support-of-15-hour-wage-but-pays-drivers-much-less/