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Barnes Bill to Improve Ethics Disclosure at Independent State Authorities Released by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Peter J. Barnes III to improve ethics disclosure at independent state authorities was released Monday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-759) requires that members of independent state authorities make disclosures concerning relationships between the members’ relatives and the authorities upon which the members serve. Specifically, a member must report to the Attorney General:
· The employment by the authority of a relative of the member; or
· The existence of a contractual relationship between a relative of the member and the authority.
“Disclosure is always the best way to ensure good government, and this is a reasonable step forward to ensure taxpayers are protected,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex). “This requirement would be similar to that expected of other public officials, and it’s the right thing to do.”
A member shall make the report to the Attorney General within 30 days of the hiring by the authority of the member’s relative, the creation of a contractual relationship between the authority and the member’s relative or the member’s appointment, as appropriate.
If, upon or prior to the date of the bill’s enactment, a relative of a member is employed by, or has a contractual relationship with, the authority upon which the member serves, then the member shall report that information to the Attorney General within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.
A member who violates the requirements of the bill would be subject to removal from office and liable to a penalty of up to $5,000, unless the member knew or reasonably should have known the member was in violation, in which case the penalty shall be no less than $5,000 and no more than $10,000 for each violation.
The bill was released 9-0 by the Assembly transportation panel.