While the political furor over Gloucester County Democratic Chairman Michael Angelini’s alleged pension padding continues to rage, his future as chairman of the county’s dominant party is uncertain.
Gloucester County Democratic insiders, for the most part, will not go on the record on whether they think Angelini should stay or go as chairman.
The county’s most influential Democrat is incoming Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford). Two weeks ago, Sweeney said, “I don’t think this is a reason for him not to be a chairman.” Today, he declined to comment any further on the matter.
Several of the county’s Democratic insiders who asked that their names be withheld reveal mixed opinions on whether Angelini should resign, remain as chairman but choose not to run again when his term expires in June, or seek reelection to the post. They are loathe to condone the practice of collecting pensions for multiple part-time public jobs that, according to IRS standards should be classified as independent contractor arrangements, but argue that it was not illegal when Angelini did it and note that the chairman was the only attorney targeted in the report for what was considered a fairly common practice.
What is clear is that there is no organized movement to push Angelini out, but his future as chairman is not completely secure.
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Twp.), a Gloucester County resident, announced today a pension reform bill intended to close a loophole that allows certain members of several government lobbying organizations to draw public pensions. Moriarty said that he had not yet read the inspector general’s report on Angelini and will withhold comment on it until he does. Moriarty did read media accounts of the report, but said they were “conflicting” on information about Angelini’s salaries.
“I’ve been pretty clear on this issue and remain firm that we cannot support part-time work for pensions… I come from the real world. Not the government world. So none of this has ever made sense to me,” said Moriarty, who was a television news reporter before going into politics.
Moriarty said that his own lack of comment on the situation was not because Angelini heads the Democatic party in Moriarty’s home county.
“I’m not hesitant to criticize anyone if I think it’s warranted. I haven’t read that report yet but I’m interested to read it,” he said.
Gloucester County GOP Chairman Bill Fey has been the most outspoken political figure on the issue, despite, he said, receiving warning shots about Republicans engaged in the same practice being exposed.
“Fraud and pension abuse is fraud and pension abuse – end of story. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” said Fey, who added “I checked around the county. I looked at Republicans in the county and I don’t see that happening here.”
Fey compared aspects of Angelini’s public jobs to former state Sen. Wayne Bryant’s (D-Lawnside) conviction on a fraud charge regarding his low-show part-time position with the Gloucester County Board of Social Services. The problem, Fey argued, is endemic to South Jersey’s political machinery.
“Angelini had help — lots of help from the local municipalities to do what he did. Right now everyone’s being good little soldiers and keeping their mouths shut,” he said.
Angelini could not be reached for comment.