On Tuesday afternoon, a coalition of advocates, students and residents led by New Jersey Working Families Alliance filed an ethics complaint against State Senator Nicholas Scutari for allegations concerning the senator’s law practice. The complaint, filed with the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards, called for a full investigation relating to the conduct of the Senator.
According to an investigation by the law firm Calcagni & Kanefsky, Senator Scutari committed “serial absenteeism” over the course of five years as Linden municipal prosecutor, missing 255 of 628 court sessions and costing the municipality nearly $200,000.
Senator Scutari was paid in full for these absences, which were not authorized by Linden officials. This conduct places Scutari in potential violation of New Jersey’s Legislative Code of Ethics Rule 2:1a and merits a thorough investigation on behalf of New Jersey’s taxpayers.
“The Joint Legislative Committee should conduct a full investigation of this Senator Scutari’s behavior,” said Sue Altman, State Director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance. “The people of New Jersey need to know the facts regarding Senator Scutari’s improper and unethical behavior as a state senator and municipal prosecutor. His conduct cost taxpayers in the state and in Linden hundreds of thousands of dollars and impeded the effective administration of justice. To the detriment of the taxpayer, Scutari’s state pension was repeatedly enriched.”
The complaint notes that Senator Scutari’s conduct, unacceptable for any office holder, is particularly alarming given his responsibilities as chair of the consequential Judiciary Committee, which oversees hearings for nominees to the state Superior Court, Tax Court and Supreme Court.
“Given Senator Scutari’s history of taking advantage of New Jersey courts and taxpayers, it is unconscionable that he occupies the position on the Judiciary Committee that is responsible for deciding whether a candidate for the bench gets a hearing,” Altman said. “The Joint Legislative Committee should make the full text of the Calcagni and Kanefsky report public. Shielding the report from public view would send a signal that the Senator is using his position to prevent justice from being served.”
A copy of the formal complaint is attached.Legislative Ethics Complaint - Senator Scutari