Should Indicted Elected Officials In NJ Leave Office? [AUDIO]
State Senator Shirley Turner thinks indicted elected officials in New Jersey should immediately step down from their office pending the outcome of their case.
More importantly, Turner thinks voters should be asked if the constitution should be amended to force them out. Today, the Senate State Government Committee will discuss a Turner-sponsored measure to put the question on the November ballot.
"The ballot question would be for us to amend our (State) constitution so that we can require elected officials to step aside if they are indicted," explains Turner. "They are not able to serve the people who elected them with that cloud hanging over their heads."
Turner's constitutional amendment provides that when a person holding elective public office in this State is indicted for a crime under the laws of this State or the United States, or for an offense in any other jurisdiction that would be a crime if committed in New Jersey, that person would be suspended from office without compensation until the charges are dismissed, the person is acquitted of such charges, or the person is convicted.
Turner says, "If they are found innocent then they could resume their duties and they would be paid retroactively and then of course if they are found guilty they would be required to leave office."
The Senator thinks this would be in the best interest of the voters and the indicted officials because they are not focused solely on doing the people's business when they are waging a legal battle.
"They are more concerned with staying out of jail and working with their defense and their attorneys," says Turner. "This is something that I think we need to look at accomplishing because we've seen far too many elected officials now who are being indicted and subsequently being convicted and have to leave office, but it takes so long."
Turner hopes her legislation can receive enough support that the question can be placed on the ballot this November.