MARLBORO, N.J. - Despite claims from critics who said the measure wasn't tough enough, Gov. Corzine signed legislation yesterday barring lawmakers elected after Feb. 1 from holding more than one elected office in New Jersey.
The bill was among four measures Corzine signed that Democrats hope will highlight their efforts to combat public corruption. Corzine signed the bills in the 12th Legislative District, a battleground in the fall elections.
Democrats are looking to retain legislative control in the fall. They control the Assembly 50-30 and the Senate 22-18.
The ban affects only officials elected after Feb. 1, meaning the 17 legislators and other local officials who hold more than one elected office can retain their seats until they give them up or are voted out.
"We're reduced to saying it's better than nothing," said Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck (R., Monmouth).
Beck represents the 12th District and is running for Senate there this year against incumbent Democrat Ellen Karcher, who sponsored the ban. Karcher is a Marlboro resident who resigned from that community's town council before joining the Senate in January 2004.
Karcher said a flawed ban on holding dual offices was better than nothing. She said she wanted an immediate ban, but noted that a proposed immediate ban introduced in 2004 received no consideration.
"It's been a long, tough fight," Karcher said.
Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D., Middlesex), another sponsor of the bill, dubbed the ban "a quantum leap forward."
"The days of unmitigated dual office-holding are numbered," said Assemblyman Michael Panter (D., Monmouth), another sponsor.
Corzine signed the ban while expressing reservations that it wasn't tough enough.
"It is not the bill I wanted," Corzine said, though he called it "a step in the right direction."
He also signed legislation to:
Allow prosecutors to seek monetary penalties from those convicted of public corruption crimes to reimburse defrauded public entities.
Make it a crime to knowingly misuse public grants, loans, assets and property.
Make individual legislative voting records available online.