NEWARK, NJ - State investigators recently found something that caught their interest on the computers of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission - a list of agency employees who had purchased tickets for an October 2010 beefsteak dinner for Sen. John Girgenti at the Brownstone House in Paterson.  

That evidence, according to a Star-Ledger story, is being examined as part of a state investigation into allegations  that supervisors at the sewerage commission were selling tickets for political fundraising events at the authority's offices and that employees were being pressured to buy them out of fear of retribution.

The Star-Ledger found that in Girgenti’s most recent campaign finance report, sewerage commission employees wrote checks totaling $7,900 in support of his re-election. That did not include those who gave below the threshold limit at the senator’s annual beefsteak dinner in Paterson. That same report showed those who do business with the commission kicked in another $14,000 for Girgenti’s election.

The report said that more than 10-percent of the contributions in his recent finance report came from employees and vendors of the Passaic Valley commission.

 

Girgenti said told The Star-Ledger he has never solicited any contributions from anyone at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners. Girgenti represents the 35th legislative direct, which is dominated by the city of Paterson.

A day after The Star-Ledger story was published on January 30, the commission's executive director, Wayne Forrest, put in place new ethics rules involving political activity, including forbidding any PVSC employee from serving as a campaign treasurer on any political campaign. The new rules also forbid any political activity at the commission, which had not been specifically prohibited before, according to a Ledger story

 
These are latest revelations in a series of stories by The Star-Ledger exposing patronage, nepotism, and sweetheart deals at the agency. Gov. Chris Christie last week ordered six of seven commissioners to resign.