Senator Michael Testa introduced legislation to address developer bribes in New Jersey after multiple reports of corruption have flown under the radar. Corruption is deeply ingrained in New Jersey, and it is time for the Legislature to act, said the senator.
"Corruption in New Jersey is not relegated to Senator Menendez. Many have been content to look the other way as dirty money changed hands in places like Hudson and Newark for kickbacks and favors," said Testa (R-1). "While these bribes and shady development deals have consistently flown under the radar, this administration has failed to take aggressive action to intervene where obvious corruption exists. My legislation seeks to end the persistent culture of corruption."
In June, Senator Testa introduced S-4075 (PDF) to empower the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to monitor and provide oversight for, or take control of, certain local development offices when corruption is identified. The bill requires the EDA to take over when three or more officials are charged, indicted, or convicted.
Additionally, the bill would apply retroactively to criminal convictions, indictments, and charges occurring three years prior to the legislation's enactment.
Newark's former deputy mayor was indicted on charges of soliciting bribes for property redevelopments and is set to stand trial in December. In 2022, a former Newark councilman pled guilty to receiving bribes from contractors and developers and attempting to defraud the city. A former director of the Newark Housing Authority also pled guilty to stealing nearly $600,000.
"Newark's development efforts were under state oversight until Governor Murphy released the city in 2018. Shortly thereafter, the deputy mayor was indicted, a councilman and developers pled guilty to charges of bribery, and a housing authority official was convicted of theft," Testa added. "It's no secret that corruption is just routine business in places like Newark. If the Executive Branch refuses to reign in this culture of obvious corruption then the Legislature must pass this long overdue bill."