N.J. AG Asked to Probe Forrester’s Campaign Contributions

September 18, 2005

A state election panel has forwarded a top Democratic lawmaker’s request for a probe into campaign contributions made by GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts, D-Camden, last week asked the state Election Law Enforcement Commission to investigate whether Forrester violated state law by contributing to Republican committees and candidates while owning an insurance company. Fourteen other Democratic Assembly candidates have filed similar requests with ELEC.

The election commission, which oversees campaign finance matters, notified Roberts by letter on Wednesday that it had forwarded his request to the Attorney General’s Office. ELEC on Tuesday determined the matter did not fall under its jurisdiction.

The Attorney General’s Office said Friday it had not yet received the forwarded request.

“This is a cynical partisan diversion by Roberts, and we expect the attorney general will respond appropriately,” Forrester’s spokeswoman, Sherry Sylvester, said Friday.

At issue is $37,500 in contributions by Forrester to the Republicans’ political action committee for their Assembly candidates.

The statute in question falls under New Jersey’s criminal code. The law was designed to prevent undue corporate influence and bars those with a majority interest in insurance or banking firms from contributing to political campaigns.

Forrester owns a majority stake in a prescription benefits management company, BeneCard Services Inc., and a related Washington, D.C.-based company that insures the prices offered by BeneCard to its clients.

Forrester, who made a fortune from his insurance ventures, is mostly using his own money to finance his gubernatorial campaign. He also has contributed several hundred thousand dollars to various GOP candidates and committees in the state since forming Heartland Fidelity.

Roberts’ request came a week after a ruling by Banking and Insurance failed to clear up whether the related company, Heartland Fidelity Insurance Co., falls under the New Jersey law.

Following the Banking and Insurance opinion, Democrats, including Forrester’s opponent, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, asked the attorney general to look into the matter. It has since been sent to the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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