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Sweeney goes out to lunch

NJ Senate President's campaign picks up plenty of meal tabs

We who treat ourselves to lunch once a week at Chipotle Grill, where a burrito bowl goes for about $8, may be taken aback by the NJ Senate President's $120,000 meal tab.

Those of us for whom a Saladworks takeout – again about $8, including a wheat roll -- brightens a weekday may be stunned that Steve Sweeney can drop $573.38 at Barclay Prime, the Stephen Starr steakhouse on Rittenhouse Square.

And whatever percent we the people who do not occupy elective office constitute of the total population surely can be forgiven for our bewilderment at the explanation a spokesman for the state's top Democrat offers my colleague Maya Rao, who outlined Sweeney's sensational smorgasbord in Sunday's Inquirer.

"(The senator) has a very strict policy of not accepting gifts from anyone, big or small ... He insists on paying for any meals or other expenses incurred during these meetings so that there will not even be the slightest hint of anything inappropriate."

Sounds wonderful.

Actually, it is wonderful.

Like U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews, another Democrat who would have us believe that his very strict policy magically manages to separate his professional and personal piggy banks, the Sweeney camp maintains that the $120,000 the big guy spent mainly dining out during a two-year period was all payable by his campaign(s).

Such as Sweeney's Gloucester County freeholder primary campaign account, which last January picked up the tab for $765.43 worth of cigars.

Only in the humidor of politics.