Chris Christie may have rained on the Democrats’ parade with his corruption bust yesterday on the day of the party’s convention, but the most popular politician in the state isn’t blaming him.
Although his running mate, Assemblyman Mims Hackett, was arrested yesterday along with Assemblyman Al Steele and eight other Democratic officials for taking bribes, Senate President Dick Codey told an audience at the convention this morning not to complain about the timing of the arrests. Codey also said that he talked privately to Hackett last night and expects an announcement from the arrested Assemblyman soon.
“I want to make myself clear on this. I know there’s been criticism and talk about whether the US Attorney is political in nature in his investigations — the timing of his investigations,” said Codey. “Let me say to those who would say that, that is not the question. He is doing his job, and he should be doing his job. He didn’t put a gun to anybody’s head and put their hands in the cookie jar.”
It was the most that any politician had publicly said about the statewide corruption case at the convention, which began last night with a cocktail reception.
Codey went on to say that corruption is not endemic to Democrats, and insisted that when Republicans controlled the state government they did not adequately address the issue. Still, Codey was careful not to immediately condemn his running mate or the other arrested officials.
“Everybody deserves a day in court. We don’t know what the future holds, but all I can say is that we should be the party that speaks the loudest against corruption,” said Codey, who was given a standing ovation before and after his speech.
But Codey seemed skeptical on whether revisiting the just-signed dual office holding ban
to eliminate the grandfather clause would make much of a difference, saying no law can stop an official who’s “hell bent on doing something wrong.” The first priority should be, Codey insisted, for Democrats to police themselves. Last night, Assemblyman and state Democratic Chair Joe Cryan suggested that Democrats ought to consider taking another look at the legislation in light of yesterday’s arrests.
Both Hackett and Steele held multiple government jobs.
After the breakfast, Codey would not say whether he asked Hackett to resign in their conversation last night, but suggested that the public will find out soon enough.
“I spoke to Mr. Hackett last night and I expect we will have an announcement soon about his future in the legislature,” said Codey.