In New Jersey, sometimes voters overlook an indictment

If Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone (D-Bayonne) wins re-election despite his indictment on state corruption charges, he won’t be the first politician accused of a crime to be validated by the voters. In May 1982, State Sen. William Vincent Musto was re-elected Mayor of Union City 24 hours after being sentenced to seven years in a prison, and moths after his conviction on federal racketeering charges. The same day, Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson was forced into a runoff with City Council President Earl Harris; both were under indictment at the time. The two candidates under indictment combined for 74% of the vote. (Gibson and Harris were both acquitted, although Gibson was later charged on another offense.)

Five weeks before a 1990 special election, Assemblyman Cyril Yannarelli (D-Paterson) was indicted on charges that he paid campaign workers to falsify some 5,000 voter registration forms. He lost the heavily Democratic 35th district to Republican Frank Catania by nearly 3,000 votes. Yannarelli, a former Passaic County Freeholder who had sought the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in 1982, had won a special election convention for the Assembly after John Girgenti (D-Hawthorne) replaced the late Frank Graves in the State Senate. Yannarelli avoided prison by participating in a pre-trial intervention program.

In 1980, U.S. Rep. Frank Thompson (D-Trenton), accused of taking bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as an Arab sheik, lost his bid for a fourteenth term to 27-year-old Republican Christopher Smith by a 57%-41% margin. Thompson outspent Smith by a 2-1 margin in a district where Jimmy Carter outpolled Ronald Reagan.

 

In New Jersey, sometimes voters overlook an indictment