Sweeney Moves Swiftly to Restore Order, Bonhomie

Mosquera, Sweeney and Weinberg.

Philadelphia– All’s well that ends well, right? So it seems in the case of NJ’s biggest power company’s support of Congress’ anti-gay crusader, Rep. Scott Garrett. Perhaps without appreciating the breadth of his intolerance, PSE&G has been bankrolling Garrett’s reelection efforts. And while it’s surely PSE&G’s prerogative to support whomever they like, if they pick folks like Garrett, the PR blowback should come as no surprise.

And blowback is just what happened yesterday. After weeks of fighting PSE&G (and getting nowhere especially quickly) noticed was served that something’s gotta give.

Senate President Steve Sweeney understood that. And when it came to light that PSE&G also sponsored one of Sweeney’s convention events this week, Sweeney boycotted the event altogether. Sweeney did this is solidarity with tens of thousands of gay people who send PSE&G a payment every month. He also sent a more practical message: bigotry is bad for business.

Sweeney: ““Because of PSEG’s continued support of Rep. Scott Garrett’s hateful comments towards the LGBTQ community I can no longer participate in the NJDSC Delegate Breakfast during the DNC. Should PSEG withdraw its sponsorship of the Delegate Breakfast, I will recommit to attending. I hope PSEG does the right thing by condemning Rep. Scott Garrett, requests the return of its money and commits to never supporting him again.”

And with that, progress came swiftly.

“I have been in communication with folks at PSE&G for a few days,” Senator Loretta Weinberg told PolitickerNJ. “They have assured me that they are no longer contributing to Scott Garrett’s campaign.”

Too good to be true, right? Actually no.

We have assurances that PSEG will not support Garrett going forward,” Assemblyman Tim Eustace told PolitickerNJ. “The Senate President deserves kudos for standing up and Rahway Councilman Bob Bresnahan has been a stalwart soldier in this battle. My hope is that we work together this week as we see this company, as well as many others, see that our cause is just.  My heartfelt thanks to the hard work that went into crafting a way forward.”

“I think that’s progress and I am hoping that the breakfast goes on as planned,” added Weinberg. “However, I am not certain that the Senate president will agree with me.”

I hope so. When PSE&G gave us lemons, Senator Sweeney whipped up a big batch of lemonade. Hopefully he’ll reverse his boycott so democrats can thank him in person.

When LGBT activists began connecting the dots between bigoted politicians and the NJ companies who curry their favor, it was our job to sound alarm bells and so we did. When you’re an activist taking on powerful politicians and huge corporations, you don’t get that many chances to make your case. And when you see a pressure point, you take it because you have to.

I hope Senate President Sweeney understands that. His willingness to transform what would have been an unacceptable juxtaposition into a teachable moment suggests he does.

Ideally, said Weinberg “we will have an opportunity to engage together in more substantive conversation about corporations and institutions and their responsibility to to be clear about human rights issues.”

[Note to the Senate President: We LGBTs didn’t seek your help to ruin Wednesday’s event. We did it because we couldn’t pull this off this whole equality thing without powerful allies like you. Thank you.]

Jay Lassiter started covering New Jersey politics in 2005 as a blogger for BlueJersey.com. After a stint as America’s first State House blogger, Jay did communication for Congressman Rob Andrews and Congressman John Adler. Jay’s best known for his work legalizing medical marijuana and gay marriage and for working to end N.J.’s death penalty. He’s on Twitter @Jay_Lass.