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August 16, 2006
Throwing Her Weight Around For The Last Time

New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber resigned last night after a state ethics panel harshly criticized her for interfering with the citation of a friend at a traffic stop. Farber had a state trooper drive her to where officers had stopped her friend because of a seat-belt infraction and subsequently found him to have a suspended driver's license, putting undue pressure on the officers:

On May 26, Ms. Farber received a call from her companion, Hamlet E. Goore, saying that he had been stopped at a seat-belt enforcement checkpoint in Fairview, in Bergen County, and the police determined that he had a suspended license and an expired registration.

Ms. Farber was taken to Fairview in her state car, driven by a trooper. But she has said she did not intercede in any way and did not speak to any police officers. She did acknowledge, however, that Mr. Goore had told the police that his companion was coming to help remove some items from his van — and that his companion was the attorney general.

The investigation, led by a former state appeals court judge from Atlantic County, Richard J. Williams, found that although Ms. Farber broke no laws at the scene, her appearance there raised “serious ethical questions.” Judge Williams’s report cited three specific violations of the Department of Law and Public Safety’s code of ethics that prohibit officers and employees from accepting favors because of their position or appearing to influence others.

The report made no recommendations as to whether Ms. Farber should remain in office, but the language that was used was stern. As attorney general, Judge Williams wrote, “coming to the scene of a traffic stop where you have a personal interest in the outcome of police decisions made at the scene creates a serious risk of raising public suspicion about the legitimacy of those decisions.”

The report continued: “It also creates a risk of inhibiting the local police officers at the scene. It does not appear that the attorney general ever considered those risks.”

Farber didn't break any laws, but she certainly exercised extremely poor judgment. As the ethics panel noted, having the state attorney general travel all the way to the scene of a friend's arrest delivers a message to the officers involved, and that message is not Have A Nice Day. The manner of her arrival compounded that impression; she had her official car driven by her official driver. That certainly implies that the AG was conducting official business -- which calls into question her demurral that she simply wanted to get personal effects from Goore's van. If that was the case, she could have driven herself.

Of course, that brings up another controversy over Farber. When nominated by Corzine in January, her driving record came to light. It included twelve speeding tickets, three license suspension, and four bench warrants for her arrest. Corzine still managed to get her the top law enforcement gig in New Jersey with that record, but the state legislature grumbled about it. Now Corzine has to explain his decision all over again, and it won't be just Farber's judgment that Garden State residents will question.

Farber tried hard to keep her job, but even fellow Democrats appeared unmoved by her protestations. Some openly called for her resignation, even after she started meeting with key NJ politicians. Of course, the manner in which she did so may have contributed to the hostility she faced. When she went to meet the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat John Adler, she arrived at his house ... in her state car and with her driver. Adler brushed her off, and last night sounded hostile still: "I’m glad that we can put this sad chapter behind us and look for an attorney general of the highest intelligence, competence and integrity to restore a department that’s once again been disappointed by failed leadership.”

Jon Corzine rolled into office on his reputation of exceptional competence in private industry. One has to wonder if he paid more competent people to make his hiring decisions during his career.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 16, 2006 5:36 AM

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» Corruption (and Democrats) from The Right Nation
New Jersey State Attorney General, democrat Zulima Farber, stepped down from office after being caught in ethics violation. She is the first New Jersey attorney general in modern history to resign in scandal, but don't expect much exposure on mainstr... [Read More]

Tracked on August 16, 2006 1:00 PM

» Forced Resignations from HILLARYNEEDSAVACATION
John Corzine's silly Attorney General in New Jersey, Ms. Zulima Farber, was forced to resign today. This Poster feels, it woud better serve the Nation, if all the Democrats followed Ms. Farber's lead. [Read More]

Tracked on August 16, 2006 1:19 PM


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