Soft Corruption: County Wheeling

New Jersey is a cesspool of legalized graft and Soft Corruption by William E. Schluter provides several examples of how obvious corruption persists when it is left to the corrupt to clean their own houses.

In the early 2000s there were several high profile incidents of questionable campaign donations prompting the passage of S27 which (from pages 27-8 of ex-Senator Schluter’s book) did nothing but cater to  entrenched political interests:

Wheeling is proof positive that New Jersey has created a smorgasbord of perfectly legal ways for wealthy businesses, individuals, and special interests to buy influence, exact tribute, and destroy the opposition.

….

A bill, touted as a means of reforming wheeling, worked its way through the Democrat-controlled legislature and was signed into law in December 2004. Yet the measure was flawed – and not unintentionally. Instead of instituting a blanket ban on wheeling, the new law prohibited wheeling only by county political parties and only during the first six months of the year. This would affect county primary elections, which are held in June, but not the general elections in November. This result was a clear response to the concerns of county bosses, who are paranoid about outside forces influencing primaries in their counties. In New Jersey the county political parties hold substantial political power, much of it exercised in the selection of candidates who, when elected, will be loyal disciples of their political benefactor. While these power brokers wanted no interference from outside money in their primary contests, they were happy to accept money wheeled in from other counties to help their candidates win in November.

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