Legislation would Require Governor, Legislature and Other State Officers to Report Expenses Related to Travel & Security to State Ethics Committees
Assemblymen Troy Singleton and Vince Mazzeo introduced legislation on Monday that would require the governor, members of the legislature and other state officials to report certain expenses and reimburse the state for expenditures determined not to be used for official state business.
"There's obviously been a lot of discussion over the governor's campaign travel-related expenses," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Given that these expenses are clearly not related to state business and they continue to mount, the question of whether taxpayers should be responsible to foot the bill is a valid one. This legislation would create a transparent and open process that would entrust our various ethics committees with determining whether the expenses are related to official state business. If they're not, the official would be required, rightfully so, to reimburse the state."
The bill is similar to legislation Singleton and Mazzeo sponsored last session, but broadened this time to include members of the legislature and other state officials.
"Taxpayers are already overburdened," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "There is no reasonable excuse for expecting the residents of this state to foot the bill for expenses not directly related to official New Jersey business. That's akin to a private sector employee using their company's expense account to travel out of state to interview for another job."
Specifically, the bill (A-3553) stipulates that no later than July 15 of each year, the governor, every state officer or employee, special state officer or employee, or member of the legislature must file a written report with the State Ethics Commission or the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards, whichever is appropriate, that details each expenditure from funds provided during the immediately preceding state fiscal year as an allowance not otherwise appropriated for official state business.
This would include receptions on behalf of the state, the operation of an official residence, transportation, protection and security, or other similar expenses.
The report is to be accompanied by copies of the receipts for each item or service purchased or for which an expenditure was made at a cost greater than a de minimus amount, together with: (1) the name and mailing address of the person, business or organization receiving payment; and (2) a brief description of the item or service.
The bill also stipulates that the commission or committee is to review each report no later than the 90th day after the report was filed. If it is determined that the expenditure was not used to pay for an expense incurred as a result of official state business, the official must reimburse the state the amount of the expenditure, plus interest calculated at a rate equal to the rate of inflation.