The United States Attorney’s Office and State Attorney General’s Office prefer that the Assembly does not start expulsion proceedings against its members who were recently indicted or arrested on corruption charges, according to Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden).
“As you know, prior to any expulsion hearings, Rule 7:6 requires that the committee ‘serve written charges on the member, provide an opportunity for the member to be heard, to present witnesses, testimony and other evidence, to cross examine witnesses and to be represented by counsel,’” wrote Roberts (D-Camden) to Assembly members Dawn Marie Addiego (R-Evesham) and Scott Rudder (R-Medford), who had requested in an August 1 letter that Roberts call an emergency legislative session to begin the process.
“Given that our rules would require the formation of a parallel investigation to the ongoing criminal inquiry, I immediately consulted with the State Attorney General and the United States Attorney concerning the expulsion of these members and the due process proceeding required by our rules. They advised that moving forward with the expulsion proceedings could significantly threaten their ongoing criminal investigation of these members and conveyed to me their strong inclination that I not move forward with any proceeding that could in any way hamper their investigation.”
Assemblymen L. Harvey Smith (D-Jersey City) and Joseph Vas (D-Perth Amboy) have each been charged with corruption and remain in the Assembly, although Vas has not shown up to a meeting since his first March indictment by Attorney General Anne Milgram. Neither is running for reelection.
Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean Twp.), who was arrested in the same sting that took down Smith last week, resigned Friday.
Roberts last week suspended pay and health benefits for three charged members.
Although Addiego and Rudder’s letter to Roberts was polite, a press release that accompanied it today was more politically charged.
“Last month’s arrests of legislators, mayors and local officials – and the resignation of a key member of Governor Corzine’s cabinet – proved that the Democratic tact of pretending New Jersey is not infested with corruption does not work,” said Addiego. “We must act now to purge the Legislature of anyone – regardless of party affiliation – who is accused of breaking the public trust.”