They probably could have looked the other way.
The news that Assemblyman Neil Cohen is under investigation for allegedly having child pornography on his office computer was painful to read.
But learning that it was his legislative runningmates — Senator Ray Lesniak and Assemblyman Joe Cryan — who turned him in was most shocking.
Lesniak and Cryan often get tagged as the bad guys in Jersey politics. And yet despite how difficult it must have been, they did the right thing by turning in their colleague.
We shouldn’t lower the bar too much on what constitutes ethical behavior, but let’s give credit where it’s due. Not all legislators would have done the right thing in the same situation. Less than two years ago we learned that some of former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley‘s colleagues knew about his advances toward underage pages, yet remained silent. Some still remain in office.
We’ll probably learn more about how this unfolded in the days and weeks ahead, but we should at least give credit to Ray Lesniak and Joe Cryan for the unenviable role they played in this sad chapter in New Jersey politics.
And while we’re on the topic, if the legislators are looking for bonus points, they can extend their do-gooder streak by pushing to make sure that whoever replaces Cohen looks a little more like the people they represent.
Although the 20th district’s residents are over one-fifth African American, one-third Hispanic, and one-half female, the delegation has been 100 percent white and male for a long time.
Who wants extra credit?