A former New Jersey State Senator, now seeking to ask 34 State legislatures to apply for a convention to propose a Constitutional amendment to limit the terms of office of Members of Congress, responded today to a number of anonymous attacks upon his record made in this Examiner’s comment space.
Former State Senator Richard J. LaRossa, together with Chris Kniesler, his long-time political adviser, telephoned this Examiner at 1:00 p.m. today to respond to the charges.
The comments appeared under the default label “Anonymous” at the bottom of this article describing LaRossa’s National Term Limits Coalition (TNTLC). This Examiner seldom takes cognizance of anonymous rumors concerning himself, his sources, or his subjects. But when those rumors cross the line to outright libel (and, worse yet, fabrication of the news), this Examiner holds himself duty-bound to respond.
Quite simply, LaRossa and Kniesler categorically deny all of the allegations made in the comments. Kniesler added that he found “strange” the idea that anyone, willing to give his name or not, would be trying to dredge up the political equivalent of ancient history (in that the commenter said that these events occurred more than fifteen years ago) to try to discredit LaRossa today. But what makes these allegations more interesting is that they appear to involve complete out-of-the-whole-cloth fabrication.
The allegations appeared in the form of apparent quotes from alleged articles allegedly appearing in The Times (Trenton) in 1993 and 1995. The first, “dated” June 29, 1993, ran thus:
Populist legislation that would limit the terms of New Jersey’s congressional delegation was dealt a setback when the bill was pulled from yesterday’s voting list by state Senate Republicans.
The commenter prefaced this with an allegation that the New Jersey congresional delegation approached LaRossa and asked him to pull the bill, or have it pulled. But according to LaRossa and Kniesler, no such contact occurred. (And that any Congressman would approach a freshman Senator about a thing like this strains credulity.)
The New Jersey Assembly did pass a law setting limits on the number of times that anyone could run for Congress or the US Senate from New Jersey. (This occurred in the second session of the legislature, after Republicans captured veto-proof majorities in both houses in the 1991 elections, which were the mid-term elections for then-Governor James J. Florio.) But James Harkness, the chief counsel to the State Senate, gave then-Senate President Donald “Donny D” DiFrancesco his opinion that a term-limits law would be unconstitutional. Accordingly, DiFrancesco pulled the bill. He was the only Senator who could have done this. (Noteworthy is that, two years later, the United States Supreme Court did indeed hold that a State term-limits law would be unconstitutional. US Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (93-1456), 514 U.S. 779 (1995)).
The second allegation takes the form of an “article” in The Times, dated November 10, 1995. This “article” quotes an unnamed spokesman for Hands Across New Jersey (HANJ), a tax-revolt group that formed in 1991 in response to Florio’s $2.8 billion tax hike, as calling LaRossa an “enemy of the taxpayer” and saying that:
LaRossa seems more interested in helping out liberal, special-interest groups like the state workers’ union [than cutting taxes].
The basis for this alleged charge: that LaRossa had voted against one of a number of measures by then-Governor Christine Todd Whitman to reduce New Jersey’s income-tax rate. But that never happened, either.
I did not vote against that bill; I did not vote in favor of it. I did not vote at all. The reason: you cannot be a fiscal conservative by cutting taxes without cutting spending at the same time. But when Whitman proposed another budget to cut the State sales tax from 7 percent to 6 percent, and at the same time cut the budget by $1 billion, I voted for that budget.
LaRossa was also on hand to vote for the famous “retroactive tax cut” that Whitman sent to the legislature in 1994 as part of her “Republican response” to Bill Clinton’s 1994 State of the Union address, a response that she delivered to a joint session of the New Jersey legislature.
LaRossa also recently told Kevin Mooney of The American Spectator that HANJ died out because they grew complacent after Whitman defeated Florio, and the legislature enacted not only her tax cuts but also an amendment to allow the recall of elected officials. It made HANJ believe that their mission was accomplished, and they failed to maintain pressure on the government. LaRossa does not want the Tea Party movement ever to make a comparable mistake.
Absolutely no trace of either of the alleged articles allegedly appearing in The Times of Trenton appears anywhere on the Web.
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