Murphy Vetoes McGuckin Bribery Bill Saying It’s Not Hard Enough on Corrupt Politicians

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – As the FBI probes Ocean County officials over their hiring practices in an effort to investigate if public jobs were given in return for tangible personal rewards or favors, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced he has vetoed an anti-bribery bill presented by one Ocean County official who is neck-deep in the pay-to-play game.

Gregory McGuckin, a pay-to-play attorney based out of Toms River holds 21 public contracts, most of which were awarded to him by mayors and local elected officials he had politically supported, and hashed out in backroom deals and political caucus meetings.

Ironically, the same Gregory McGuckin who has been pushing his weight around Ocean County the past two years, reportedly holding public jobs over peoples’ heads in return for political favors introduced an anti-bribery bill which was passed in a bipartisan fashion in Trenton.

Under his bill, McGuckin sought to expand bribery laws to also include candidates for public office who are not yet elected.

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Today, Governor Phil Murphy vetoed McGuckin’s bill conditionally. McGuckin’s bill sought to penalize candidates running for the public who accepted handshake bribes before taking office, in order to fulfill those bribes if they win their election.

Aside from the obligatory fixing of gender pronoun errors in the bill, Murphy said he wanted to hold not just the candidates, but the actors attempting to bribe officials to also be held liable for the acts. That means pay-to-play lawyers such as McGuckin would not be able to pay unelected candidates in return for future public work.

It is not clear at this point how this bill would affect New Jersey’s pay to play laws which McGuckin now successfully circumvents to earn his form nearly $4,000,000 in annual public contracts.

Under Murphy’s conditional veto, McGuckin has to rework his bill with the governor’s suggestions before he signs it into law.

With Murphy’s revisions, the bill could possibly close existing pay-to-play loopholes such as giving money to candidates in exchange for high-paying public jobs in the future if that quid-pro-quo notion is verbalized beforehand. McGuckin’s law would prevent his future opponents from leveraging the public job inventory to rally campaign support to unseat him, a strategy that pushed McGuckin into power in Ocean County in the power vacuum that existed in the wake of the resignation of former GOP Chairman George Gilmore.

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