By: Ted Lang

Governor James McGreevey’s coming out party served no purpose other than to create a diversion blurring the real issue: the outrageous corruption the state has been mired in over the last several decades. Even back in the 1930s and 40s, New York City’s feisty mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, promised to send all the "tinhorn" gamblers "across the river" and back to New Jersey.

And the cast of unsavory characters involved in the governor’s malfeasance includes disgraced former Senator Robert G. Torricelli, McGreevey’s alleged boyfriend, Golan Cipel, and multi-millionaire Charles Kushner, McGreevey’s primary cash cow. Kushner has just pleaded guilty to the three primary charges against him: income tax violations concerning campaign contributions; witness tampering and obstruction of justice in hiring a prostitute to hamper a federal investigation; and election law fraud. In total, Kushner pleaded guilty to 18 charges.

Kushner funneled money from family-held corporations exceeding election law limits and then claimed the payments as tax deductions. And although Kushner donated heavily to Jewish causes and to Tel Aviv University, the only safe political contributions he could have made would have been to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the only political organization where the IRS allows political contributions as tax exempt.

The Kushner investigation and prosecution was on the front burner of possible Republican gubernatorial aspirant Chris Christie, a federal prosecutor who started his political journey in Morris County. McGreevey’s sexual proclivities are virtually a carbon copy of those uncontrollable "bimbo eruptions" of Bill Clinton, except for the reverse order of things. The New Jersey press knew of McGreevey’s sexual misadventures and ignored them.

Another twist in the McGreevey debacle is the announcement by Senator Jon Corzine that he will not now consider running for governor in a special election were McGreevey to step down immediately to clear the way for a November 2nd vote. Although this had originally been considered, Corzine, a newcomer and liked by both New Jersey Democrats and the national organization, was being pulled by both organizations for their focused elections.

Unquestionably, more dirt will surface on McGreevey, unless Republicans are satisfied with the outcome so far: McGreevey is out, and Corzine will not be a contender for an entire year and after the presidential elections this year. The DNC must have convinced Corzine to help Kerry dump Bush, and should that happen, he, Corzine, will be in even better shape to face Christie, Schundler or Forrester.

After Kushner pled guilty to all charges in Federal District Court today, Christie announced that no further investigative connections existed as regards Kushner ties to any additional McGreevey probes. That, of course, could mean one of two things: either a deal was made, or Christie already has what he intended to unearth in order to keep after McGreevey.

It is extremely hard to believe that the McGreevey trail of corruption is cold. At around the same time that the Kushner caper was going down, the McGreevey administration pushed through the Democrat-controlled legislature the "Highlands Preservation Act," purportedly to save green acres and preserve much needed watershed lands. And of course, the legislation puts heavy restrictions on real estate transactions within New Jersey. Some of the ongoing deals involve Kushner’s real estate ventures, a major one in Morris County.

The McGreevey administration had previously developed a water-rationing map, which originated in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s state water management department. Red zones were drawn where water usage was closely managed by the DEP. The red zones on the map were reminiscent of the Bush/Gore Republican red zones. That map evolved into the one now included in the Highlands Preservation Act.

One red zone that was doing better than just okay was where Charles Kushner’s real estate firm held property intended for a large multi-condominium development. The local water utility was given a dispensation from NJDEP, but local residents held up the deal complaining that the site would create major congestion in the area. The red zone map now incorporated into the Highlands Preservation Act gives the DEP, and therefore McGreevey and his successors, complete control of all the land in New Jersey.

Just as McGreevey had no problem appointing his boyfriend to the so-called vital job of homeland security, McGreevey seems to have applied the same concern to the water problems in the state, and the resultant preservation incentive for the New Jersey Highlands. Perhaps this situation has legs, and perhaps Christie will do some real careful map reading to find his way around in this area.

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Ted Lang is a freelance writer and political analyst. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

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Published in the August 20, 2004 issue of  Ether Zone.
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