In past years, at least one high-profile political scandal involving corruption has surfaced in the months leading up to a statewide election in New Jersey. Most of this corruption-busting was undertaken by former U.S. Attorney for the State of New Jersey and current gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie. With Christie out of office, will a corruption take-down occur before November and if so, what will be its impact? The key rests with New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.
Milgram is known as someone with a high degree of integrity. At the same time, she is in an awkward position when it comes to undercovering political scandals, especially as the Governor nears re-election.
Interestingly, during the past year, major announcements concerning significant political figures in the Democratic Party were made by Milgrim and they continued as late as last week. In December, Milgram announced the indictment of Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D) on charges of child pornography. This past week, Milgram charged Cohen's campaign treasurer with pilfering money from Cohen's election fund and using it to pay for personal expenses. Rosemary McClave was not only Cohen's treasurer but is active in Hillside politics. Until last week, she served as the campaign treasurer for Hillside Democratic mayoral candidate Jerome Jewell, and has served in a similar position for other Union County officials.
Are more announcements coming in the months ahead? If so, how will they impact the gubernatorial race? Will Milgram wait until after the election if there is a big Democratic "fish" that needs to be fried?
In all likelihood, Milgram will continue to charge public officials prior to the election. Depending on who is charged, it could significantly affect the Governor's race. For example, should a powerbroker with strong ties to Corzine be indicted, not only will the issue be used against the Governor but a key ally could be sidelined during the campaign. A swing of a few thousands votes because an influential political figure is sidelined by corruption charges could mean the difference between the Governor's re-election and electoral defeat. On the other end of the spectrum, should a Republican official be indicted who has strong ties to the Republican nominee, the Party's mantra of cleaning up Trenton will suffer a heavy blow.
While most people are not yet talking about it, Milgram's actions or lack thereof over the next few months could significantly influence November's election. A major indictment between now and the summer would not come as a surprise.