Hank Lyon: I lied, I didn't move from my parents' house

Freeholder Hank Lyon recently found himself before a judge again, accused -- once again -- of violating New Jersey election law.  Lyon, who is a candidate for the state Legislature in next week's Republican primary election, could face serious ethical and legal issues in the weeks and months ahead -- and could endanger the seat (even handing it over to a liberal Democrat) if a court finds that, as in 2011, he violated the law.

At issue is Freeholder Lyon's residency and the honesty and integrity of the voting process itself.

We all remember how Hank Lyon won a seat on the Morris County Freeholder Board in 2011.  A late infusion of cash from a corporation controlled by his father -- an infusion allowed only because of an election law loophole that says if a candidate still lives at home with his parents, their money is treated as if it was the candidate's own money.

D. Use of Personal Funds  Use of a candidate’s personal funds on behalf of his or her campaign must be deposited into the campaign depository and must be reported as either contributions or loans to the campaign in the same manner as all other contributions or loans. If the candidate intends to be reimbursed fully or partially for personal funds used on behalf of his or her campaign, then the funds must be reported both as a loan and as an outstanding obligation to the campaign if still outstanding at the end of the reporting period. Once a candidate’s personal funds are reported as contributions, the funds cannot be later characterized as loans and be repaid to the candidate. There is no limit to the amount of personal funds a candidate may contribute or lend to his or her own campaign (except for publicly funded gubernatorial candidates). See Gubernatorial Public Financing Program Manual for more information.  Also, a corporation, of which one hundred percent of the stock is owned by the candidate, or by the candidate’s spouse, child, parent, or sibling residing in the candidate’s household, may make contributions without limit to a candidate committee established by that candidate, or to a joint candidates committee established by that candidate.

That infusion of corporate cash was improperly reported.  A judge overturned a close election, a lawsuit followed, another judge overturned the first decision, while an appeal wasn't pursued after the opposing candidate received a gubernatorial appointment.   Lyon's campaign still owes a huge amount of money to this corporation -- $75,966.66 -- according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJELEC).

Per the NJ election law loophole, this large infusion of corporate cash is only legal while Freeholder Hank Lyon and his father reside in the same household (according to corporate records, Lyon's mother resides in Texas).  Here's where the story gets interesting. 

Hank Lyon has long chaffed at the idea of his political career simply depending on "daddy's money."  He's worked to appear to be outside his father's shadow, going as far as lying on his official Freeholder biography:

"He is a lifelong resident of Morris County, specifically the Towaco section of Montville Township, where he was a member of the Montville Housing Committee.  He now lives in Parsippany."

Lyon even pictured his new home in his legislative campaign's advertising, with the words:  "Recently bought his first house, pictured above."  But if Hank Lyon no longer lived at home with his father, then how is he still using his dad's corporate money and keeping to the law? 

In February 2016, Freeholder Lyon did purchase a residential property in the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany-Troy Hills.  However, Lyon never occupied the property.  Neighbors claim to have no idea who lives at 45 Manito Avenue.  Mail has piled up and apparently gone unanswered.  Repairs and renovations have been pursued in a more or less desultory manner.  Then, on April 3, 2017, Lyon executed a mortgage on this property -- borrowing $125,000. 

According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJELEC), Freeholder Hank Lyon loaned his legislative campaign $35,000 on May 12th and $83,000 on May 16th.  His campaign then purchased $99,997 in cable television advertising that began airing on May 19th.

The mortgage stipulates that the borrower (Freeholder Lyon) "shall occupy, establish, and use the Property as Borrower's principal residence within 60 days after the execution of this Security Instrument."  This Saturday, June 3rd, those 60 days are up.

When Freeholder Hank Lyon moves, in three days' time, the loan his father's corporation has with him will go sour.  It was only allowed while the candidate made his father's home his principle residence.  Freeholder Lyon should have paid off the corporate loan that will clearly place him outside normal, ethical, campaign finance limits.  Instead, he borrowed more to finance another campaign for political office.

Little wonder then that as a candidate for the Legislature, Hank Lyon supported borrowing and debt to pay for basic road and bridge maintenance.  He opposed adjusting the revenue source of the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) for inflation, despite it having failed to produce enough revenue to fund the state's transportation needs since 1990.  Because of this "credit card" policy -- endorsed by Lyon -- by 2015, the revenue source (the tax on gasoline) brought in just $750 million annually, but the interest on the debt to fund all that borrowing cost taxpayers $1.1 billion annually. 

Borrowing, paying your bills with a credit card, is not the way of the fiscal conservative... it is madness. 

Memo to Bill Spadea, Erik Peterson, and others

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin writes a dead-on column today that takes aim at all those people who believe that the blessings of civilization -- things like roads and bridges that don't end up killing you or your family members -- are birthrights instead of things we have to pay for.  Malkin writes:

"News flash, kids: Things aren’t free. Things cost money. And 'free' things provided to you by the government cost other people’s money."

Malkin is using this general principle of conservatism, something every Republican should understand, to make a point about ObamaCare, and a larger point about the behavior of some of our country's younger voters.  Drawing a bead on what she calls one of "the most politically popular provisions of the Orwellian-titled Affordable Care Act" she continues:

"...the so-called 'slacker mandate.' It’s the requirement that employer-based health plans cover employees’ children until they turn 26 years old.

That’s right: Twenty-freaking-six.

Is it any wonder why we have a nation of dependent drool-stained crybabies on college campuses who are still bawling about the election results one week later?

...Who pays for this unfunded government mandate? As usual, it’s responsible working people who bear the burden.

Earlier this year, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the No Slacker Left Behind provision resulted in wage reductions of about $1,200 a year for workers with employer-based insurance coverage — whether or not they had adult children on their plans. In effect, childless working people are subsidizing workers with adult children who would rather stay on their parents than get their own.

Moreover, according to company surveys and other economic analysis, the slacker mandate has resulted in overall increased health care costs of between 1 and 3 percent. The nonpartisan American Health Policy Institute reported one firm’s estimate of millennial coverage mandate costs at a whopping $69 million over 10 years.

...The Obama White House will brag that the slacker mandate has resulted in increased coverage for an estimated 3 million people. As usual with Obamacare numbers, it’s Common Core, book-cooked math. Health care analyst Avik Roy took a closer look and found that the inflated figure came from counting '(1) young adults on Medicaid and other government programs, for whom the under-26 mandate doesn’t apply; and (2) people who gained coverage due to the quasi-recovery from the Great Recession.'

To add insult to injury, another NBER study found that roughly 5 percent of people younger than 26 dropped out of the workforce after the provision was implemented. They used their spare time to increase their socialization, sleeping, physical fitness and personal pursuit of 'meaningfulness.'

Then there are the hidden costs of the millennial mandate: the cultural consequences. All this 'free' stuff, detached from those actually paying the bills, reduces the incentives for 20-somethings to grow up and seek independent lives and livelihoods. Why bother? The societal sanctions have been eroded.

Now, the nation is suffering the consequences of decades of that collective coddling. Precious snowflakes can’t handle rejection at the ballot box or responsibilities in the marketplace. Appropriately enough, the new virtue signals of tantrum-throwing young leftists stirring up trouble are safety pins — to show 'solidarity' with groups supposedly endangered by Donald Trump.

Safety pins are also handy — for holding up the government-manufactured diapers in which too many overgrown dependents are swaddled."

You can read Michelle Malkin's full column here:


Michelle Malkin is a senior editor at Conservative Review.  For more articles and videos from Michelle, visit ConservativeReview.com.  Her email address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

Reason Study author says gas tax must go up

We've all heard about the Reason Foundation study that claimed New Jersey had the most expensive roads in America.  The Reason study was controversial and other studies refuted it -- such as the one coming out of Rutgers University's Voorhees Transportation Center.

Some politicians seized upon the Reason study to argue that cost-cutting efficiencies should be put in place before any more money went to repair and maintain the state's roads and bridges.  We wonder if they would feel the same about the grossly mismanaged Veterans Administration -- close all those hospitals and services and dump the wounded out on the streets until the VA operates more efficiently. 

Others claimed that they could fund the entire Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) with savings from efficiencies and cost-cutting.  No numbers were produced to support this, but in testimony, Barauch Feigenbaum (Reason's Assistant Director of Policy) offered some excellent recommendations as to the areas in which significant savings could be achieved. 

The lamentable fact is that not since 1990 has the state's user tax on gasoline and diesel produced enough revenue to cover the cost to maintain the state's transportation system.  That year the gas tax collected $404.9 million to fund a $365 million transportation program.  The tax on gasoline and diesel hasn't gone up for 28 years, hasn't even kept up with inflation, leading to more and more being borrowed to pay for road and bridge maintenance and repair.  Today the cost of the debt service alone exceeds $1.1 billion.  In contrast, the gas tax collected just a bit more than $750 million in 2015. 

No wonder the author of the Reason study, David Hartgen (Emeritus Professor of Transportation Studies at UNC Charlotte), recently told New Jersey media that there was no way around the revenue problem the now-bankrupt TTF faces: 

Even as some say his report proves that New Jersey must cut costs before hiking the gas tax, Hartgen says the opposite may be true. The transportation trust fund is now $30 billion in debt. Without new revenue from the gas tax or some other source, it cannot spend any money on new construction. 

“I don’t think budget cuts will work,” Hartgen said. “They need to look at the gas tax.”

With no facts, AFP is left with parables

On the TTF crisis they have now helped to create, AFP assures us that it is holding something  firm or firmly holding or something like that.  Look, we all get it that Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is owned by the Koch Brothers -- those Trump hating, Hillary embracing petroleum industry (as in G-A-S-O-L-I-N-E) billionaires.  

AFP was on record its whole existence as opposing the job-killing, business destroying Estate Tax -- until the price of ending it was raising the tax on the Koch Brothers' favorite product.  Then it was all hands firmly opposed to raising the gas tax.  And to this end they have thrown a lot of shit against the wall hoping that some of it stuck.  The latest is a parable from New Jersey's answer to Ayn Rand herself.

Look, we don't need silly parables with clunky characters like "Uncle Sam State."  What is that about?  With a polity that worships political beings as if they were gods on earth, "Uncle Hand State" would be far more appropriate.

Once upon a time, New Jersey's answer to Ayn Rand sold books wholesale to public and private entities.  Nothing wrong in that.  We love books.  But selling a product over time presumably introduces you to the concept of inflation.

The gas tax hasn't kept up with inflation.  Since 1988, New Jersey has charged drivers just 14 1/2 cents a gallon of gas to maintain and repair our roads and bridges.  The price hasn't gone up in 28 years.  

What business doesn't raise its prices in 28 years and survives?

Other states have raised their prices in line with inflation.  New York charges over 40 cents a gallon and Pennsylvania over 50 cents.  If New Jersey had raised its price little by little, in line with inflation, that 14 1/2 cents would be 29 cents today.  

What happened instead was that TTF spending was uncapped in the 1990's and successive administrations extended the life of the debt so they could borrow and spend more.  They spent and spent but didn't raise the tax to pay for it.   Today it will take all of that 14 1/2 cents and the first 10 1/2 cents of any gas tax increase just to pay the interest on that debt.

That's why the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) is broke and road and bridge maintenance and repair has stopped.  There is simply no money to pay for it.  And now, because of the mistakes made in the past, the gas tax or some other tax will have to be raised or roads and bridges will have to close.

The gas tax is a users' tax.  President Ronald Reagan believed it was the fairest way of paying for road and bridge maintenance, repair, and construction -- charge the drivers who use it.

The gas tax is also fairer to the taxpayers of New Jersey.  

New Jersey is a pass-through state on the busiest travelled corridor in the East Coast.  I-95 is the nation's busiest road.  35 percent of those who use New Jersey's roads and bridges are from out-of-state.  Instead of raising the gas tax, for years New Jersey has borrowed more and paid more and more interest on that debt.  In-effect, New Jersey taxpayers are paying interest on debt in order to subsidize out-of-state drivers who continue to use our roads and bridges at the 1988 price per gallon.

The ONLY way to get out-of-state drivers to pay their fair share is through a users' tax on gasoline.  Without an increase in this users' tax -- the gas tax -- local road and bridge maintenance and repair will have to be paid for in higher property taxes.  Now who wants that?

The GOP's 2017 "gas tax" strategy

They failed to break through in 2009 and 2011.  They were stopped cold in 2013, while their party's gubernatorial candidate won by 20 points.  And then suffered historic loses in a low turnout election that should have favored them in 2015.  You have to pity the Republican's legislative leadership, they are running out of scenarios. 

The latest scenario predicts what will happen in the 2017 elections.  This will be the "gas tax" election, they say.  The year when the GOP makes big inroads in the Legislature because of its opposition to the gas tax increase.  Trust them, they tell us, and ignore the fact that we've been hearing this since 2001, and since 2001,we've been losing.

Will this time be any different?  In voting against the gas tax hike, Republican incumbents will be voting against a half dozen tax cuts -- hurting them with important natural GOP voting groups like seniors, veterans, and small business owners.  Then it will come down to resources and to who can afford to tell their story with more repetition.

The problem with Republicans is that they are inconsistent.  The TTF is broke because the Republican Party uncapped it and set it on a course of wild spending and borrowing -- while it lacked the balls to raise taxes in line with inflation to keep up with all that spending and borrowing.

The gas tax hasn't kept up with inflation.  Since 1988, New Jersey has charged drivers just 14 1/2 cents a gallon of gas to maintain and repair our roads and bridges.  The price hasn't gone up in 28 years.

Other states have raised their prices in line with inflation.  New York charges over 40 cents a gallon and Pennsylvania over 50 cents.  If New Jersey had raised its price little by little, in line with inflation, that 14 1/2 cents would be 29 cents today. 

What happened instead was that TTF spending was uncapped in the 1990's and successive administrations extended the life of the debt so they could borrow and spend more.  They spent and spent but didn't raise the tax to pay for it.   Today it will take all of that 14 1/2 cents and the first 10 1/2 cents of any gas tax increase just to fund the interest on that debt.

That's why the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) is broke and road and bridge maintenance and repair has stopped.  There is simply no money to pay for it.  And now, because of the mistakes made in the past, the gas tax or some other tax will have to be raised or roads and bridges will have to close.

Ignoring this stark reality, Republicans have adopted a religious mantra from the house of Grover Norquist -- no new taxes, no tax increases.  And because of this, we are yesterday's party, a dead party, incapable of tackling one of the most basic requirements of civilization:  Roads and bridges. 

Those who worship at the shrine of the most sacred Grover (blessed be his name) can't even discuss fiscal reform, which might involve changing how something is taxed in order to end the way something else is taxed.  Governor Christie, a Norquist acolyte invokes the name of his holiness the way lesser beings invoke the name of Christie (he who is infallible in all things temporal) has blocked any real ideas coming out of the GOP.  Republicans are allowed to worship, they are just not allowed to think.  We're stuck in the status quo of not touching anything for fear of being labeled a heretic.  It is really very sad.

Allowing Grover Norquist to dictate policy is silly.  Grover is no longer the activist, anti-tax crusader he was in the 1980's.  He is now a member of the Washington, DC, establishment who has collected a trash bag full of shit in the course of his wanderings.  And we don't just mean his role as money-launderer in the Jack Abramoff scandal.  Here is conservative Glenn Beck's take on the most holy one:

Here is the full Beck - Norquist interview:

Here is the presentation by Glenn Beck that prompted the interview:

A totally different critique of Grover worship has it that the huge deficits now threatening to destroy the economic health and future of America were a fault of Grover's anti-tax pledge.  It said not to tax, but said nothing of spending, and so Republicans kept their holy vow not to tax -- while they spent and borrowed and spent and borrowed.  A few, very few, heretics warned against this.  They warned that nothing is for free, that you have to pay for it sometime.  Now where have we heard this before?

New Jersey Republicans are big spenders.  Always have been.  Kean, Whitman... even when they cut taxes they've raised spending.  Governor Christie capped local government spending but failed to do the same for state spending.  As in the case of uncapping the TTF, New Jersey Republicans have never quite understood the balance sheet relationship between revenue and spending.  So they learned to love debt.  More and more debt.  Even a self-proclaimed "taxpayer hero" like Senator Jennifer Beck votes for more spending -- like $7 million more for Planned Parenthood -- while opposing any way to raise the funds to pay for it.

While adamantly opposing tax increases, Beck wants to spend millions on things like alternative energy.  How does that work?

Their inconsistency leaves most GOP legislators outside the tent of Republican nominee Donald Trump.  On free education for illegals, the death penalty, welfare for drug dealers and a host of other issues, many GOP legislative incumbents have enough serious flaws in the weave to turn off even the most understanding populist conservative.  Despite this, the NJGOP has determined a populist strategy that mirrors Trump's -- but without the name ID or resources.

As the TTF funding saga shows, the GOP has become a party content with losing, more comfortable in political tactics than in actual governance. Without Chris Christie to choreograph their every move, the NJGOP and its legislators appear incapable of crafting a strategy of governance.  GOP policy isn't about fixing anything, but rather, about adopting a slogan and repeating it often.  Being against something -- even when your party helped create it -- is all that matters.  Unfortunately for both the party and for voters, that isn't policy, it's just stupid politics.