By Art Gallagher
State Senator Joseph Vitale and Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, both Democrats from Middlesex County's 19th legislative district, have distributed a "Dear Friends" letter on legislative stationery that is strongly critical of Governor Christie, Republican State Legislators and Congressman Leonard Lance, while praising Congressmen Frank Pallone and Albio Sires.
The 19th legislative district is comprised of parts of 6th, 13th and 7th congressional districts which are represented by Pallone, Sires and Lance respectively.
The letter, a copy of which can be downloaded here, is critical of Christie for vetoing the "Millionaires tax extension" and the GOP legislators for not voting to override Christie's veto. The so called Millionaires tax enacted under Governor Corzine expired in December 2009. Christie's veto was not of an extension, but of a new tax.
Vitale and Coughlin tell their "Dear Friends" that they are not getting there Homestead Property Tax Rebates because Christie vetoed the tax and that he took "$1200 out of the pockets of 500,000 middle class residents."
They conclude their letter by sharing the "good news" that their friends who hit the Medicare "Donut Hole" will receive a $250 check thanks to Pallone's and Sires's votes in favor of ObamaCare. "Congressman Lance, on the other hand voted against mailing seniors and disabled the $250 Medicare 'Donut Hole' checks," they said at the end of the "good news" paragraph.
The State Ethics Commission expressly prohibits the use of Official Stationary to promote a candidate for political office. That line has been crossed in this letter by the comments on Pallone, Sires and Lance, each of whom is currently running for reelection.
Additionally, the Ethics Commission prohibits using Official Stationary to express a personal opinion on a matter not related to one's official duties. While this is more of a grey area, the letter is clearly opinion, as the facts are wrong on the Millionaires tax "extension" and there is no guarantee that had the previous Democratic legislature and Governor Corzine extended the tax, that the revenue from it would have funded rebates.
Vitale and Coughlin should be severely reprimanded for the political nature of this letter and compelled to reimburse the taxpayers for the cost of printing and postage.