Over at Enlighten-New Jersey, a post entitled Creating a Culture of Corruption in New Jersey lists a quotation from New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Carroll (R-Morris). It's an interesting quote, and I'll post the opening paragraph here.
Most serious political corruption tends to be an urban problem. And a Democrat problem. Not because Republicans are inherently more virtuous, but because they tend to approach government from a different perspective than do Democrats. Dems see government as an engine for legally stealing from A to benefit B. Republicans, contrariwise, see government as a bulwark to prevent B from stealing from A.
The one problem with the quote, as of right now, is that the post from which it allegedly came is a dead link. I have no way of telling whether Assemblyman Carroll actually made the above statement. The Way Back Machine indicates that the page doesn't exist. I suppose I could email the Assemblyman and ask, but it's less important to me whether the Assemblyman actually made such a statement than whether the statement is accurate and meaningful. If pressed, I suppose it could be said that Enlighten-New Jersey is the "author" of the statement, until this statement is otherwise verified.
Being a conservative, I would love for the statement to be true. Corruption = a Democrat problem. Great. The issue is well-defined; let's get rid of corruption by voting out Democrats. The problem is that it is factually inacurrate. In Monmouth County, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey undertook an investigation into corruption by Republican politicians. This investigation, known as Operation Bid Rig, led to the indictment of at least 11' individuals, including Middletown Republican Raymond O'Grady.
As reported in this New York Times article, Committeeman O'Grady entered into a conversation that was surreptitiously taped by an undercover agent. This conversation related to O'Grady's plan to accept a bribe. When asked if he feared being caught by the police, O'Grady's response was nonchalant, to say the least.
In one case, Raymond O'Grady, a Middletown committeeman, casually dismissed an undercover agent's question to him on tape about whether he feared being caught by the police, according to the criminal complaint. "I can smell a cop a mile away," Mr. O'Grady bragged to the undercover agent who was taping the conversation, according to the complaint.
Operation Bid Rig took down corrupt Republican politicians in New Jersey. Many of those Republicans were convicted or pled guilty. Thus, we can address the assumption that corruption in this State exists as a Democrat problem and say, clearly, this assumption is false.
As an aside, this assumption is so patently false that I think that is why one doesn't find a link to it on Assemblyman Carroll's website. The Assemblyman is an intelligent, well-educated man. He would know better than to make an assumption that is so readily disproven.
Corruption in New Jersey is a real, substantial problem. The problem, so far, hasn't been solved, as evidenced by continuing convictions undertaken by the Federal Government. And, as evidenced by the bilateral nature of these convictions, it's neither a Republican nor a Democrat problem.
The problem is one of individual responsibility.
Every individual investigated and convicted is responsible for the actions that led to his or her conviction, just as every individual - in the future - that is convicted will be as well. It will not be solved by pointing fingers at one party or the other. It will be solved when individuals involved in the governance of this State decide that they are better than the politics of unlawful personal enrichment.
Not surprisingly, the fact that this State has failed to put forward an ethics reform bill to address public corruption is a problematic one. Still, the actions of the U.S. Attorney evidence that, even without such reform, corruption can be policed, to some extent. Policing corruption and reforming the laws concerning corruption are not the answer, though. The final answer concerning corruption must be individuals taking their conduct to a level where there is no question of corruption. Politicians must not merely be successful at getting elected; they must be virtuous. The notion seems naive, but it's not an unheard of concept.
Update: Enlighten-New Jersey has posted a working link to Assemblyman Carroll's post.
Update 2: Sharpe James seems to be under investigation for corruption. There's a shock.