A coalition of gun groups today charged the Democratic controlled Assembly of vote-rigging and said a host of gun control measures, some of which have already been approved by the legislature, are invalid due to improper procedure.
In a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver from law firm Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith and Davis, the groups allege that by halting a June 6 committee roll call vote on A4182 before the vote was complete, it rendered that bill and every bill passed through the committee after the halted vote ineligible for consideration by the Assembly.
As a result, the group says, any legislative action taken after that time is null and void.
“There are important policy reasons for this rule, including ensuring the integrity of the voting process and preventing manipulation of voting results in bad faith,” the letter said.
The bill is considered a signature piece of the Democrats’ gun control measures. On June 6, after it became clear that Democrats did not have the votes to pass the bill through the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, Chairman Charles Mainor halted the vote and tabled the bill.
The bill was then moved to the Assembly Budget Committee, where it passed three weeks later.
The groups claim that the bill was moved to a committee where the votes could better be controlled by leadership and that by halting the bill, every bill considered by the committee after was considered “out of order.”
“Vote-rigging doesn’t get any more blatant than this,” said representatives from the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society in a joint statement. “These legislators ignored their own rules when they couldn’t get their way in one committee, obstructing the bill’s defeat and relocating it to another committee for a “do-over” vote where the fix was in. This outrageous abuse of power will result in the ultimate demise of this legislation.”
But a spokesman for the Assembly Democrats said the rule cited by the gun advocates pertains to floor roll call votes and not committee votes.
“Nothing improper happened,” said spokesman Tom Hester. “There are no specific rules for committee votes (and there was) no problem at all with any procedure.”
According to the letter from attorney Daniel Schmutter, the rule would also invalidate A4181, A4179, A4152, A4178, A4180, S2720, S1279, S2804, S1133 and S2468. All of the bills are part of the sweeping gun control package pushed forward by Democrats in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school massacre and several passed the Assembly on Thursday and are awaiting action from Gov. Chris Christie.