First District Senator Nick Asselta and his Republican Assembly running mates Norris Clark and Michael Donohue ? responding to a denial by the Governor?s spokesman that a proposal submitted by a financial services firm in February has informed the Administration?s approach to selling, leasing, or ?monetizing? New Jersey?s toll roads ? today called on the Governor to reveal whether or not the firm in question was Goldman Sachs, and to reveal what, if any, counsel he or members of his Administration have sought or received from Goldman Sachs as he considers his plans to sell, lease, or ?monetize? the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and the Atlantic City Expressway.
?Is Goldman Sachs advising the Governor as he prepares his plan to lease or ?monetize? the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and the Atlantic City Expressway? Is that why his plan is still secret? New Jerseyans have a right to know,? said Asselta.
?Yesterday, the Governor?s spokesman denied that a February proposal outlined in Toll Roads News ? available online at http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/3028 — was anything more than ?an unsolicited proposal,? and said, ?We?re comfortable with the advice we?re getting from our financial adviser.?
?This raises the obvious question: who IS the Governor?s ?financial adviser? on this matter? Is it Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street financial services giant the Governor once headed as CEO? If so, we?ve got a serious appearance of conflict of interest. It wouldn?t be right for the Governor to be using state assets to enrich his former colleagues.
?Even if the Governor had never headed Goldman Sachs, though, we?d still have questions about the role this firm might be playing in any transaction with the state. As an article in the January/February 2007 issue of Mother Jones magazine, entitled ?The Highwaymen? ? available online at http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/01/highwaymen.html — makes clear, Goldman Sachs has apparently begun offering a new financial service: advising state governments on how best to privatize their assets. Meanwhile, another arm of Goldman Sachs is busily putting together investment groups to buy up the companies that operate privatized toll roads. That in itself certainly sounds like a conflict of interest.?
?On June 21, Democrats ? including Jeff Van Drew and Nelson Albano ? voted to give the Governor a blank check to pay legal, financial, and engineering advisors whatever was necessary to prepare for the sale, or lease, or ?monetization? of our toll roads,? added Clark. ?Was Goldman Sachs one of the financial advisors? It?s our understanding that some $4.6 million of taxpayer has already been spent or contracted for in preparation for the sale, or lease, or ?monetization? of the toll roads. How much of this is going to Goldman Sachs??
?Using state assets to put money in the pockets of your friends is wrong,? said Donohue. ?Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James just got indicted by federal authorities for using Newark assets to enrich his friends. It?s time for the Governor to step up and tell us ? is he or anyone in his Administration seeking or receiving counsel from Goldman Sachs on this hare-brained scheme? Haven?t we had enough surprises from our Governors in recent years??
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