CRYAN BILL TO BAR GOVERNOR FROM SKIRTING FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE DEADLINES RELEASED BY ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

GOP Fails To Support Good Government Legislation; Polistina and Casagrande Fail to Take A Stand

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan sponsored to require financial disclosure statements be submitted annually to the State Ethics Commission no later than May 15 was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-2768) comes after Gov. Chris Christie earlier this year quietly signed an executive order that delayed the disclosure deadline from May to August.

“These forms are designed to assure the public that government officials do not have personal financial interests that conflict with their official duties,” said Cryan (D-Union). “Any effort to delay that disclosure raises serious concerns and questions and is unacceptable. Republicans failed to stand up for transparency and public disclosure today when they abstained on this good government legislation, but the deadline is there for a reason and the public expects it to be met.”

The bill passed 3-0 with Democratic support. Assembly Republicans Vincent J. Polistina and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande failed to take a position and abstained.

The bill, released by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, provides that financial disclosure statements that are required to be submitted to the State Ethics Commission must be filed with the commission no later than May 15 of each calendar year. A person who accepts an office or employment after the 120th day preceding May 15 will file a financial disclosure statement with the commission no later than 120 days after commencing service in the office or employment.

“The bill expressly prohibits the governor, the commission, or any other official from granting an extension of these deadlines,” Cryan said. “The public expects better, but sadly it seems we have to put this into law to make sure it stands.”

The bill also provides that income information reported in a financial disclosure statement filed on or before May 15 will be for the prior calendar year. Income information reported in a financial disclosure statement filed after May 15 will be for the prior calendar year and for the period between Jan. 1 and the fifth day preceding the date of filing of the current calendar year.

The bill specifically provides that during 2010, any person who files a financial disclosure statement with the State Ethics Commission after May 15 must include income information for the period commencing Jan. 1, 2009 and ending on the fifth day preceding the filing of the statement.

“The public expects greater transparency and accountability from their public officials, not less,” Cryan said. “I thank my Democratic colleagues for doing the right thing and supporting this bill and I am disappointed the panel’s two Republicans failed to take a stand on this ethics issue.”

The bill now goes the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.

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