BREAKING: New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Political Candidates Are Subject To Bribery Laws

Moments ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a candidate for public office is subject to the same bribery laws as elected officials, even though they were not yet in office when the bribe occurred.

The bribery statute applies to any “person” who accepts an improper benefit – incumbents, candidates who win, and candidates who lose,” the court noted in their unanimous decision.

“The statute also expressly states that it is no defense to a prosecution if a person “was not qualified to act,” as the defense was arguing,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote.

So even if a candidate is unable to follow through on a corrupt promise, the language of the bribery statute makes it a crime to accept cash payments for a promise of future performance.

Today’s decision upheld an appeals court ruling last year which reinstated the bribery indictment against former Bayonne mayoral candidate Jason O’Donnell, finding there was no “loophole” in the state’s statutes governing public corruption for those who are not yet public officials.

O’Donnell, a former state Assemblyman, was accused of accepting $10,000 from a government informant in exchange for the promise of tax work in the city while running in the 2018 mayoral election.

The case has been remanded back to the Superior Court, where a judge initially dismissed the charges against O’Donnell.

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