TRENTON, NJ -The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation co- sponsored by Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman, R-16th and Sen. Anthony Bucco R-25th to mandate ethics training for all elected officials.

Government officials who fail to complete the training would face a $5,000 fine.

“Unfortunately, you don’t have to dig deep to find examples of political corruption in New Jersey,” Bucco said. “Widely publicized investigations into kickback schemes and recent exploitation of state funds have exposed a critical need for the ethics training mandated under my bill,” he added. “New Jerseyans are already coping with a nation-high tax burden. We cannot allow elected leaders to squander a single public dollar for political gain.”

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The Senators’ legislation, S-84, would combat and prevent egregious violations of public trust and the illegal spending of taxpayer dollars by requiring all local officials to complete a training program on the Local Government Ethics Law and any applicable county or municipal codes.

The need for S-84 is underscored by a number of recent investigations reported by the New Jersey State Comptroller.

“When a civilian assumes elected office, there is no guarantee that they already understand key standards of ethical conduct, such as conflicts of interest and financial disclosure,” Bateman said. “Each year, we entrust municipal and county officers with $15 billion taxpayer dollars, but to some, automatically awarding a public contract to a family member may seem like an innocent practice. Mandating ethics training will ensure all elected leaders understand the grave consequences of misusing public funds.”

Under S-84, all elected officials must complete the training program within six months of their first term. All part-time and full-time municipal or county officers would be required to complete the training, compensated or not; including those who were appointed before the enactment of the bill.