Earlier this year the Camden County GOP disavowed County Freeholder candidate Vincent Squire after it was discovered that Squire was not completely honest about his checkered past including his use of an alias and his second degree felony assault charges (for beating his son) which were pending in Superior Court. Party officials also claimed to be aware of at least one cash contribution Squire accepted that he had not turned in or report to the ELEC. At the time Republicans called on Democrats to also clean house. Is that finally happening?
In Franklin Township Somerset County the all Democrat Council unanimously voted to censure three term Councilman Rajiv Prasad saying that he “engaged in multiple actions in his official capacity as an elected official that are improper for a person in his position”. Prasad has been accused of calling the FBI to intimidate people for their Facebook posts, instructing a defendant to visit a judge in his office to influence the outcome of a case, attempting to alter the outcome of parking tickets and attempting to circumvent the protocol in order to avoid public scrutiny on a project by repeatedly calling for votes while omitting them from the agenda.
Franklin Township Mayor Philip Kramer said “I cannot begin to express how sad and angry your actions have made me. But what bewilders me is in a town that prides itself on its diversity, is how (you) have committed actions that jeopardize that diversity.” Former Councilwoman Roz Sherman said “He has disgraced himself and is dragging the council with him. The council has to regain its integrity and standing with Franklin Township residents, which has been severely damaged as a result of Mr. Prasad’s attempt to bypass the legal and normal process of handling the situations already mentioned”.
Prasad is the first Councilman to be censured in Franklin Township in at least 15 years. Prasad’s censure said he “engaged in multiple actions in his official capacity as an elected official that are improper for a person in his position” and “these actions are in a manner and to the degree that he has lost the trust of many residents and the governing body of Franklin Township”. It goes on to say Prasad’s actions “dishonor the important position in which he has been entrusted,” and “admonish him in the strongest of terms by censuring Mr. Rajiv Prasad Councilman, At-Large for the multiple improper actions he has taken”.
New Jersey residents seem to accept corruption as part of state politics. Voters in New Jersey recently reelected Senator Robert Menendez who after 44 years in public office could not talk about any significant accomplishments, was formally reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee saying he broke federal law after his trial ended in a mistrial and rumors of being with underage prostitutes. Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James was convicted for fraud after he conspired to sell city-owned properties which were flipped for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Camden County power broker George Norcross was recorded discussing patronage jobs and making threats. We recently talked about over 100 years of corruption in Atlantic City. This Wikipedia page lists 51 New Jersey politicians who have been convicted of crimes.
It is about time a Democratic governing body in New Jersey called out one of it’s own for corruption. Many Democrats run their towns and our states like it’s their private kingdoms double dipping and giving out favors and important appointments based on friendships and political affiliations. We see it all over the state. I hope that Franklin Township serves as an example to other Democratic bodies in New Jersey to clean house and remind them that they are here to serve residents.
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