Should New Jersey’s ethics laws uniformly cover localities, too? That’s the topic of this NJ.com analysis.
New Jersey has 566 municipalities, 611 school districts, 190 local authorities, and 121 fire districts. The costs of supervising all of those is staggering. Moreover, the potential for abuse is plain. Supervision and control varies, and too often is well-intended but toothless. The applicable law, called the Local Government Ethics Law, contains no clear ban on gifts, no explicit ban on nepotism, insufficient disclosure requirements for business interests, no significant penalties for transgressions and no direct power to cause removal from office. Jurisdiction to enforce the law is vested either in local municipal ethics boards or the Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services. Interpretation of the governing standards, and penalties meted out, varies widely.