Saturday, August 21, 2010

Vitale And Coughlin Use Legislative Stationery For Political Purposes

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.


Anonymous said...

Art - as a Democrat, I 100% agree with you. This is unacceptable.

Webster said...

not to be picky, but I believe the spelling for paper, etc., is "stationery".. "stationary" refers to being in one place.. that being said, remember, the only time this is a bad thing, is when a Republican slips up and forgets to use campaign stationery for those purposes, as opposed to the official type.. the double standards we've endured get worse and worse!!

Art Gallagher said...

not to be picky, but I believe the spelling for paper, etc., is "stationery".. "stationary" refers to being in one place..

Thanks Webster

Anonymous said...

Vitale and Coughlin--how much will that 250.00 (donut hole)check cost the medicare recipient.

"Smoke and Mirrors", the Democrat's slogan.

Again, the Democrats Playing the nut shell game with the seniors & taxpayers.

ambrosiajr said...

So then, this article from is not correct?....

N.J. Democrats fail to override Gov. Chris Christie's veto of millionaires tax
Published: Monday, June 21, 2010, 3:52 PM Updated: Monday, June 21, 2010, 3:59 PM

TRENTON — Democrats have failed to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a tax that would increase taxes on income more than $1 million.

The bills, which would devote the proceeds to restoring property tax rebates for seniors and the disabled, died on the Assembly floor today when Democrats could not convert any Republicans who voted against it last month, when it passed strictly along partisan lines.

Although a majority of Assembly members (47 to 33) voted for the bill, Democrats did not reach the two-thirds majority needed to override it. The override would have required flipping seven Republican votes. Because the override attempt failed in the Assembly, where the bill originated, the Senate will not attempt it.

Also, did Lance vote against the bill authorizing $250 for Seniors and the Disabled or not? If he did, then what is wrong with stating the facts?

And, you're telling me that NO republicans running for office aren't franking their mail and writing "good news" pieces? I get one from Chris Smith, surprisingly, right around now and right before the elections letting me know how great he and the republican party is. What a coincidence.

Please explain the difference other than that you are so partisan that you're using anything you can find as an attack piece.

Art Gallagher said...

Please explain the difference other than that you are so partisan that you're using anything you can find as an attack piece.

Rick, The difference is that congressional franking is legal.

I've called for it to be banned from six months prior to congressional elections through the election.

You know the difference between federal and state legislators and their franking privledges, Rick. Stop playing dumb.

I'm not saying that NO Republican has ever done this. If any have, I'm not aware of it. You have Republican state legislators Rick. Are they sending you partisan mail at they taxpyers' expense?

I'm saying that what Vitale and Coughlin did is inappropriate at best, probably an ethics violation and maybe a crime.

mlaffey said...

A legislator touting their achievments prior to an election on Legislative letterhead and at taxpayer expense while odious is permissable under present law.

However the State ethics Committee has clearly stated that it is impermissable to endorse a candidate for office on State letterhead. That is what has been done here and Vitale and Coughlin should be subjected to ethics charges as a result. If anyone can point to a republican that has done the same thing my position will be the same with regard to them.