For the millions of people living in New Jersey, who’ve never been arrested on corruption charges, this one’s for you.
Recently, the FBI arrested 44 folks there, including two state legislators and three mayors. Big news, I guess, but hardly unusual by Jersey standards. The U.S. Attorney says the state’s politicians work in an “ethics-free zone.”
Chris Christie, now the Republican candidate for governor in 2009, used to be the U.S. Attorney. In seven years, he prosecuted 130 state and local politicians and convicted every single one of them.
Unfortunately, reducing corruption will take more than building additional prisons to hold politicians. The trick is empowering voters to hold government accountable — thereby putting less unchecked power in any individual’s hands.
Christie believes voters need the power of ballot initiatives. But earlier this year he said, “I hesitated about proposing initiative and referendum because my party had been such a failure on initiative and referendum ten years ago . . .”
Republicans gained a majority in both legislative chambers in part on a promise to enact a statewide initiative. Once in power, Republicans took a dive.
Christie pledges to be different, and to campaign with shoe leather: “I will travel around the state to publicly campaign for [initiative and referendum] and try to get the citizens to put pressure on their legislators to vote for this.”
In a usually safe state for Democrats, the latest polls show Christie with a sizable lead over Democrat Governor Jon Corzine.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.