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Lagana Will Introduce Bill to Ban Governors from Using Taxpayer Funds for Out-of-State Political Travel

Assemblyman Joseph Lagana on Wednesday announced that he plans to introduce legislation aimed at protecting taxpayers by prohibiting New Jersey governors from using public money to fund political travel.

“No elected leader should be permitted to use the taxpayers’ hard-earned money as a political piggy bank,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The people of New Jersey are practical enough to understand that there are certain costs naturally associated with the official business of being the state’s chief executive, but they also have a reasonable expectation that those costs be assessed judiciously and that public funds be used explicitly for their intended purpose.”

The measure would prohibit a New Jersey governor from using public funds for expenses incurred during out-of-state travel not related to the governor’s regular and official duties. Travel, food, lodging, security or any other expenses incurred while the governor engages in political activities outside of New Jersey would not be eligible for payment or reimbursement with taxpayer dollars under the legislation.

“If a governor wants to pursue political interests and, for example, requires security, fiscal responsibility dictates that it should be the governor or the affiliated campaign, not the taxpayers, who foots the bill,” said Lagana. “By clearly outlining a protocol for covering the cost of out-of-state political activity as well as a process for dealing with related complaints, this legislation will help maintain the integrity of the governor’s office in New Jersey.”

Under the bill, the governor would be required to submit a notice describing the date, destination and purpose of an out-of-state trip that involves political activities to the State Ethics Commission within 10 business days after traveling.

Additionally, the legislation would require the commission to investigate complaints regarding activity by the governor that is political and not directly related to the governor’s regular and official duties.

The measure would take effect on the 60th day following the date of enactment.