Should convicted felons be allowed to hold party posts?

Atlantic County Democrats say they plan to ammend their party bylaws so that County Committee members convicted of a crime would automatically be removed from office. Ronald Ruff, the Democratic County Chairman, said today that he has sent certified letters to Craig Callaway, Ramon Rosario and Gibb Jones — three former Atlantic City Councilmen who had been convicted on federal corruption charges this year — requesting that they resign their party posts. “You are not welcome in our party,” Ruff wrote. “This party has no place for those who violate the public trust.” In 1982, Trenton steakhouse owner Joseph “Jo-Jo” Giorgianni was convicted of molesting a fourteen year-old girl and almost avoided prison when his lawyers argued that at 565 pounds and suffering from asthma, he couldn’t handle prison. A Judge actually bough the argument and Giorgianni remained free until he was videotaped in Atlantic City with a ringside seat at a boxing match — surrounded what the Trentonian called “a cloud of cigar smoke.” He eventually served three years in prison. Now the convicted sex offender fancies himself as a political player. Three years ago he won election to the Republican County Committee in Trenton’s North Ward. GOP Assemblyman Bill Baroni has called for his resignation, but local Republicans have declined to press the matter — and interestingly, several key Mercer Democratic legislators and party officials have passed on making comment. Giorgianni apparently played a key role in the recent Trenton mayoral campaign, backing Mercer County Freeholder Tony Mack over incumbent Douglas Palmer, both Democrats.