Pennsylvania’s state constitution bars convicted felons from holding elected office in the state. Bruce Blunt the Democratic Mayor of Morton Pennsylvania was removed from office by a Common Pleas Judge on Wednesday due to a 1988 conviction for felony aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest and related offenses. It seems like a no brainier that those with felony convictions be barred from holding holding elected office. Why does New Jersey not have a similar law?
In New Jersey those convicted of a felony are not eligible to vote while incarcerated or on parole or probation. Once an offender completes all supervised release requirements their voting rights are automatically restored. The law does not bar convicted felons from holding elected office. The exception is New Jersey school boards. A bill was signed into law in 2017 barring convicted criminals from running for boards of education.
According to a 2015 article in the Washington Post New Jersey is #1 in the country in criminals per politician. The article points out that compared to the national averages New Jersey’s politicians are more prone to crime.
In 2014 West Long Branch Attorney Eugene LaVergne ran against Cory Booker for U.S. Senate. LaVergne was disbarred in 2012 and was convicted of misapplication of entrusted funds and contempt of court. The conviction was based on the theft of $108,000 that was held in trust for a client.
In 2016 Nilesh Dasond attempted to run for the Edison school board after being convicted of immigration fraud and money laundering conspiracy and serving 6 months in federal prison. Dasond though his company Cygate Software obtained fraudulent work visas and green cards for several people who were not his employees. It was Dasond’s attempt to run for school board that inspired the 2017 law barring convicted criminals from running for boards of education.
Vincent Squire who was convicted of multiple counts of Theft by Deception and Burglary and had pending felony charges unsuccessfully ran Pennsauken Township Committee in 2017 and Camden County Freeholder Board in 2018
Voters in New Jersey must insist that the legislature pass legislation barring those with felony convictions (especially convictions for financial crimes, fraud and theft) from holding elected office. Honesty and integrity must be restored to New Jersey’s political system. You can click here to find your representative in the state legislature. Please contact your representative and tell them that we the voters of New Jersey insist that New Jersey follow Pennsylvania’s lead and bar convicted felons from holding elected office.
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