Kean wants A.G. to investigate Lonegan arrest

Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. wants the state Attorney General to investigate the possible violation of Steve Lonegan’s first amendment rights. Lonegan, a former Bogota Mayor and possible 2009 candidate for Governor, was arrested on Sunday outside Middle Township High School where Gov. Jon Corzine was holding a town meeting.

“The right to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances is the foundation of our democracy. This right is clearly established in both the United States and New Jersey constitutions and it has been upheld by centuries of case law,” said Kean, whose great-great-great-great-grandfather was a member of the Continental Congress. “The citizens’ ability to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms must be rigorously protected. Attorney General Milgram as the State of New Jersey’s highest law enforcement official has a responsibility to investigate this matter.”

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale has asked U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie to investigate whether Lonegan’s arrest was an “improper use of police powers to stamp out opposition.”

“I am deeply disturbed by the arrest of Mayor Steve Lonegan during Governor Corzine’s town hall meeting Saturday. Even more troublesome are the published statements and video tape that seem to indicate that Corzine’s people conspired with local police to shut down the peaceful protest outside of the high school,” said Cardinale. “I am also concerned at statements by a Corzine Administration spokeswoman that give the impression that the Governor doesn’t care that first amendment rights were being violated during his town hall meeting and that some of his staff might have been involved. Who does he think he is – Joe Stalin?”

“The right to freedom of speech is the cornerstone of liberty in the Republic. The Legislature and the United States Attorney must make every effort to protect it and to investigate those instances where it is denied to the people,” Cardinale said. “Not since A.G. Peter Harvey threatened Senator Bob Martin in the wee hours of the morning have we seen so flagrant an abuse of police powers in New Jersey. Harvey got away with it, Corzine must not.” Kean wants A.G. to investigate Lonegan arrest