District 8 Assemblyman Fran Bodine and his running mates, Tracy Riley and Chris Fifis, today threw punches in the direction of outgoing Republican State Sen. Martha Bark, who is under state investigation in connection with money she received from the Burlington County Bridge Commission for part-time work.
In response, County GOP spokesman Chris Russell said the Democrats' press conference amounted to little more than damage control for Bodine.
Bark was quoted in the Sept. 30th edition of the Courier Post as saying of voters, "They're far more concerned about property taxes and issues of finances than they are of ethics. Anyone that's in the Legislature ought to be dealing with the issues that the public is most concerned with."
Bodine, who is running for state Senate, and Fifis and Riley challenged their opponents to join them in denouncing Bark’s comment specifically, and "the culture of corruption and cronyism synonymous with the Burlington County GOP," in general.
"Her statements are disappointing but hardly surprising," said Bodine, a veteran GOP lawmaker who joined the Democratic Party earlier this year. "Sen. Bark and the Burlington County GOP were never concerned with ethical behavior before, so why would they start now? This is precisely why I left the Republican Party. Boss Glen Paulsen and his cronies are completely out of touch with what New Jersey voters want and what our government needs. If my opponent has any respect for the voters, he will denounce the Burlington County GOP's culture of corruption and pledge to stand with honest politicians to fight for comprehensive ethics reform."
A flabbergasted Russell said Bodine lacks credibility, particularly in the wake of recent press coverage he’s received.
"I can only assume that Bodine, Riley and Fifis must have missed the devastating article that ran statewide in Gannett Newspapers today slamming career politician Fran Bodine for bragging about using his influence to put family on the public payroll, arguing why it's OK to personally profit on the backs of taxpayers while doing little work, and getting caught in a blatant lie by the reporter writing the story," said Russell. "After this, it would be shameless for these three to ever utter the words 'ethics' and 'reform' in the same sentence again, but to do it today they must be completely oblivious to the firestorm this story has sparked." I wonder how the political bosses in Camden feel today knowing they've invested so much time and money in a bunch of stone cold losers?"
Bodine’s running mates joined in the Bark pile-on, beckoning their opponents in the Assembly race, Dawn Addiego and Scott Rudder, and Bodine’s rival for Bark’s vacated state Senate seat, County Clerk Phil Haines, to do the same.
"For months, our opponents have remained mute on the matter of ethics reform," Riley said. "When we called on them to follow our lead on banning pay-to-play and ending the cycle of cronyism, corruption and complacency that has come to define Burlington County government, they stuck their heads in the sand and refused to stand up for the taxpayers."
"The Republican candidates run and hide every time there is talk of real ethics reform in Burlington County," said Fifis. "Now, when we call on them yet again to join us in denouncing the culture of corruption and insider deals that are driving up our property taxes, they wheel out a disgraced mouthpiece to say voters are not concerned with ethics. Senator Bark has been swimming in a cesspool of corruption with her $330,000 in no-show jobs. Are Haines, Rudder and Addiego going to stand side-by-side with her, or are they going to do the right thing?"