Polistina to introduce legislation creating waiting period on executive branch appointments for former legislators

In an attempt to eliminate the potential for pension boosting, backroom deals and conflicts of interest involving retiring legislators, Assemblyman Vince Polistina today announced that he will introduce legislation prohibiting former legislators from receiving any executive branch appointment for at least two years after they leave office.

?Allowing legislators who are leaving office to have a soft landing in a state board or commission creates too many opportunities for abuse,? said Polistina, R-Atlantic. ?Not only can this be used as an effort to boost pensions, but it also can create the opportunity for backroom deals as legislators are preparing to leave office but still casting votes.?

Just this week Governor Jon Corzine announced that he was appointing former Assemblyman Frank Blee to the Local Finance Board in the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Blee retired from the General Assembly last year after losing a special election convention for the 2nd District State Senate seat. Blee later endorsed the Democrat candidate, then-Assemblyman Jim Whelan, in the general election.

Polistina noted that Senator Whelan recently sponsored a bill requiring Local Finance Board approval of the RFP and sale of Bader field ? property worth as much as a billion dollars ? a decision in which Blee will now have a significant voice.

?This is not a new practice, but it is certainly a bad one and we need to eliminate it now,? Polistina said. ?By requiring a two-year waiting period we can eliminate the appearance of impropriety that these appointments can create.?

Polistina said that Senator Whelan needs to use senatorial courtesy to stop the Blee appointment in order to avoid the appearance of any impropriety related to the legislation he has proposed regarding Bader field.

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