ATLANTIC CITY – After the second bill to eliminate mandatory minimums for public corruption failed to receive the Governor’s signature, former Deputy Attorney General Claire Swift and former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian sharply criticized Assemblymen John Armato and Vince Mazzeo today for wasting the government’s time and putting the personal interests of politicians ahead of the public.
The first bill to eliminate mandatory minimums for non-violent offenses (S3456) was conditionally vetoed in April after crimes by public officials like bribery, perjury, and insider trading were added. A second, identical iteration (S3658) was conditionally vetoed yesterday. The changes would have granted judges, who are appointed or confirmed by public officials, greater discretion over how to sentence those public officials.
“The last thing the State of New Jersey and especially Atlantic City needs is more politicians getting off scot-free,” Guardian said. “I ran for mayor to clean up city hall after decades of special deals and kickbacks robbed Atlantic City of our full potential. I cannot imagine why Armato and Mazzeo have wasted the government’s time twice on this self-dealing nonsense and now fully support the effort to put the abusers of public trust ahead of the public itself.”
In March, Armato and Mazzeo both voted against the first version of this bill. However, they shed any glimmer of independence last week when they traded in one of their only three ‘no’ votes this session for their reliable vote with the party line.
“As someone with law enforcement experience at the NJ Attorney General’s Office, I cannot believe Assemblymen Armato and Mazzeo would take tools away from prosecutors who are aggressively pursuing corrupt politicians,” Swift said. “Rather than passing a budget $4 billion beyond what is necessary or voting to keep the well-connected political class out of jail, they should be focused on issues critical to Atlantic County like the continuing labor shortage and out-of-control street crime.”
This session, Armato voted with Democratic leadership 94% of the time and Mazzeo voted with Democratic leadership 99% of the time.