Atlantic County Republican chairman Keith A. Davis said today that a major campaign contribution made last month to Democrat Assemblyman Jim Whelan by Camden County bosses ?ties him even tighter to outside interests who seek to gain a political foothold in Atlantic County and exert greater influence here.?
Davis said reports filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission reveal Whelan accepted a contribution of $8,200 from the Leaders? Fund controlled by Camden County Democrat powerbroker George Norcross.
?Was the contribution in return for past favors or in anticipation of future ones or both?? Davis asked. ?Whelan can?t have it both ways. He can?t continue to insist he?s his own person and free of outside interests while, at the same time, gather contributions like that from the Leaders? Fund.?
?It?s increasingly clear that the strings run from Camden County Democrat bosses directly to Whelan,? Davis said. ?They have secured control over him and they will most certainly expect him to respond to their direction.?
Davis referred to a news article in early December in the New York Times in which the prospect was raised that Norcross was involved in legislative efforts to exempt casino floors from a statewide ban on smoking in public places.
?Whelan flip-flopped on the smoking ban proposal, first supporting it and later retreating from that position in favor of a partial ban,? Davis said. ?He turned his back on casino workers, broke his promises to them, and is now willing to jeopardize their health by exposing them to the perils of second hand smoke. It is difficult and would be foolhardy to ignore the connection between Norcross? opposition to the ban and Whelan?s sudden change of position.?
The chairman pointed out that Whelan?s 2005 Assembly campaign was financed in large measure by money flowing in from Camden County.
?We witnessed what happened shortly afterward when Whelan sided with Camden County leaders in forcing a state budget stalemate, a shutdown of state government, and the forced closure of Atlantic City?s casinos,? Davis said. ?More recently, he joined the Assembly Speaker from Camden County in support of repealing a low and moderate income housing allocation law which, if approved, will have disastrous economic consequences on the growth zone municipalities in Atlantic County.?
?Whelan has consistently cast his lot with his Camden County financiers to the detriment of the citizens and taxpayers of Atlantic County,? Davis said. ?The latest contribution should be taken as a warning sign that he will continue to do so.?