Two prominent New Jersey politicians who were convicted on federal corruption charges last year are still sitting on huge war chests. Sharpe James, a former Newark Mayor and State Senator, has $1,161,398 in his old campaign account, while former Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Wayne Bryant has $597,021. Both accounts have been largely untouched since their criminal convictions.
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission turned down Bryant's request to use campaign funds for his legal defense. Former State Sen. Joseph Coniglio, whose corruption trial begins next month, had used some of his campaign funds for legal expenses prior to the ELEC ruling. Coniglio has $16,358 in his account.
Elected officials convicted of crimes do not lose control of the campaign accounts in New Jersey. While the leftover monies cannot be used to pay for personal expenses, it can be used to make charitable or political contributions – or in the case of former Essex County Executive Thomas D'Alessio, to pay for a Mercedes lease.