In May, when nearly 45,000 Union County residents found themselves suddenly unemployed, nine members of state Senator Joe Cryan’s family were secure in the knowledge that taxpayers would continue paying them lucrative salaries no matter how bad things got because they have a powerful political insider looking out for them.
While thousands of families in Union County continue to struggle to pay rent and put food on the table to feed their family, an NJTODAY investigation uncovered evidence that Union County Senator Joseph Cryan and his privileged family have made millions of dollars from taxpayers over the last several years.
Public records show the following Cryan’s immediate family members and other close relatives are paid from the taxpayer coffers.
• Joseph Cryan makes $208,840 as executive director of the Middlesex County Utilities Authority in addition to his State Senate salary of $49,000, for a total $257,843 at taxpayer expense.
• Cryan’s sister, Eileen Birch is the Union Township Municipal Clerk, at a salary of $155,076.75.
• Cryan’s other sister, Mary Donohue is employed by Township of Union as a keyboarding clerk, whose salary was not disclosed but local ordinances show her job title pays up to $97,000 per year.
• Cryan’s brother-in-law is retired Superior Court Judge Joseph Donohue, who left behind a $165000 salary at the Union County Courthouse in June 2016, but now he collects a pension of $103,331.16.
• Cryan’s nephew, Richard Birch, was employed by Township of Union from August 18, 2015 until April 26, 2019, while he was a student at Seton Hall Law School, and now he is a law clerk working for the County of Union at a $50,605 salary.
• Cryan’s daughter-in-law Michelle Cryan is a Union County Sheriff’s officer earning $63,996.
• Cryan’s step-daughter, Katie Peterson, was employed from July 29, 2013 until April 12, 2019 as a Union Township keyboard clerk 1, where her annual salary increased up to $33,89.78 while she was enrolled as a Rutgers University student. A Katie Peterson is currently listed as an employee of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission making $75,000.
• Cryan’s neice, Emily Pearson, was hired September 3, 2013 as a Township of Union Public Safety Telecommunicator and her salary now is $72,480.20.
• Cryan’s nephew, Karl Pearson was hired September February 4, 2013 as a Union Township building maintenance worker and he is now earning $69,818.32.
• Cryan’s cousin, James Cryan, is the Cranford Township Business Administrator, at a salary of $137,700.
Nepotism is defined as giving opportunities to friends and family members. It generally has a negative association, particularly if the favored recipient isn’t qualified. Nepotism can damage an organization by affecting employee morale, causing friction and resentment.
Cryan’s family is in the spotlight like this because the former state Democratic Party boss is waging a primary election campaign aimed to stopping an African American lawmaker from rising up the ranks. If avarice and greed with desirable qualities, the politician might be in good shape but Cryan is locked in a bitter primary election contest with Assemblyman Jamel Holley, so these revelations could cause some discomfort on the campaign trail.
Some of the Cryan clan among those employed in these taxpayer-funded jobs were enrolled as full time students while living lavishly off of the hardworking taxpayers in the 20th Legislative District, which includes Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle and Union.
About one third of the Cryan family members on this list do not hold a college degree and several of them reside in Middlesex or Morris counties even though they are collecting paychecks funded by Union County taxpayers.
It is not as if people who live locally lack an interest in work that pays better than they can make at the mall or McDonalds.
According to the US Census Bureau American Community Survey, the average per capita income for an Elizabeth resident is $21,380. The average per capita income in Roselle is $29,452, in Hillside it is $32,527 and in Union it is $39,049; but the Cryan family’s average government salary is $116,391!
That’s more than five times as much as the income of a typical Elizabeth working person.
Senator Cryan’s total taxpayer-funded income from two public sector jobs is a dozen times as much as that of an average Elizabeth resident.