The Democratic legislative candidates in the second district today called for the immediate resignations of the elected officials accused today in the Pleasantville, Essex, and Passaic corruption scandal.
"The elected officials named in today's indictment should resign immediately" said Assemblyman James Whelan, who is running for the State Senate. "This type of deplorable behavior cannot be tolerated. We need to send a clear message that these actions will not be accepted. The officials involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of law. If convicted, their pensions should be seized, and any money illegally obtained should be returned to the taxpayers."
Among the group of public officials accused of accepting bribes in exchange for public contracts include five past and present members of the Pleasantville Board of Education, including Maurice "Pete" Callaway, the brother of former Atlantic City Councilman Craig Callaway.
Whelan, who desribes himself as a fervant opponent of the Callaway political machine while serving as Mayor of Atlantic City, said he led the effort to block a close Callaway ally — former Pleasantville school board president Jayson Adams — as a candidate for Atlantic County Freeholder. Whelan said he opposed Adams because of his association with Callaway and reports of questionable deals on the Pleasantville Board of Education. Adams was also indicted today.
"One of the main reasons I'm running for the Assembly is to help eliminate this conduct which breeds public distrust in our government," said Assembly candidate Joe Wilkins. "As an Assemblyman, I will fight for ethics reforms that will eliminate this kind of activity."
"I join with Assemblyman Whelan in demanding that anyone accused of these unacceptable activities immediately resign their office," said Wilkins' running mate, Blondell Spellman. "Elected officials must understand that even the appearance of impropriety is a legitimate cause for public concern. While presumed innocent, elected officials must hold themselves to a higher standard. The public deserves nothing less."
Whelan becomes the first Democratic legislator to seek the ouster of two of his colleagues, Assembly Deputy Speaker Alfred Steele and Assembly State Government Committee Chairman Mims Hackett.