Eighth district Republicans got Constitutionally banged up when they tried to confront the Democrats over the issue of Tracy Riley’s husband representing a man charged in a terror plot. But now the GOP is crowing over Riley’s departure from her job as a clerk and office manager at her husband's law firm to focus on her campaign for the Assembly.
Riley announced today that she is leaving the firm, and Republicans say it’s because she can’t bear the association.
"She must have been hearing it during her travels on the campaign trail," said Burlington County Republican Spokesman Chris Russell.
Riley counters no way, she had already postponed taking the bar exam so she could "devote more time listening to and speaking with the taxpayers of Burlington County."
"She’s been planning to do this all along after Labor Day as the campaign intensifies," said Democratic Campaign Spokesman Peter Clerkin. "She’s putting her career on hold to focus exclusively on the campaign."
In the summer, GOP mayors of towns bordering Fort Dix had protested Michael Riley’s legal representation of Shain Duka, one of six men arrested and charged on May 7th with plotting to attack the military base. Riley’s opponents essentially signed off on the mayors’ concerns.
But critics of the mayors responded that the U.S. Constitution is no small document, and that it guarantees the rights of the accused to representation in a court of law. Still, the Republicans insisted, the fact that Riley’s husband would represent a man suspected of wanting do damage to the base raises the patriotism question down here. Now, Republicans argue, Riley is acknowledging as much.
"It crosses an ethical line for him to represent a guy going onto a base to shoot up a bunch of soldiers," said Russell. "She’s tried to create a space between herself and her husband."
"What more do they want?" said Clerkin. "Do they want her to divorce her husband?"
Riley, a domestic violence victim who said she worked her way through law school in order to provide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, said she will complete the last stages of her legal training at a future date.
"I am focusing my complete attention on this campaign, which I entered because of what I believe is a leadership vacuum in meeting the needs of the hardworking people of Burlington County," Riley said in a press release. "In public service, people come first. Making government more accountable and eliminating waste in Trenton to lower our property taxes is far more important to me than pursuing my legal career at this time."
Clerkin said his candidate was not involved in the Duka case.
Riley is running on a ticket with Assemblyman Francis Bodine (the senate candidate) and Chris Fifis, against a GOP ticket comprised of Phil Haines (the senate candidate) and Dawn Marie Addiego and Scott Rudder.