Last week, those of us like myself who work for the State of NJ, learned that former Human Services Commissioner James Davy was being investigated by the US Attorney General's Office. It appears Davy may have violated federal corruption laws when he solicited business from state contractors four days before he resigned from his position of Human Services Comminssioner as part of the usual "house cleaning process" that is done anytime a new Governor comes into office. (Governor Jon Corzine accepted Davy's resignation and appointed Kevin Ryan to replace Davy). The probe follows a report in The Star-Ledger about an e-mail Davy sent to all 21 county Human Services directors on Jan. 13, four days before his departure. In it, he encouraged them to hire him as a consultant to advise them on spending $1.7 million in child abuse prevention grants they were expecting to receive from the department. The "Plain Language Guide to New Jersey's Executive Branch Ethics Standards," published by the ethics commission, spells out restrictions for state officials seeking employment, which include not soliciting employment with any vendor doing business with the State if one has "direct and substantial contact with any consultants or vendors doing business with the State." Davy could not be reached for comment, but in earlier interviews he said he was "kicking himself now" for sending the e-mails before he left office Jan. 17. (DUH!!!). Davy also said he had researched post-employment restrictions. "The advice I've always gotten is that, if you're not the one who's directly involved in negotiating or shaping the initiative or contract, then it is not necessarily a conflict under the law."
So, you can imagine the talk around the office following this report. Some chalked it up to just plain stupidity, but I have to say it is just plain arrogance! Most ethical and moral individuals would not even need a law to say this is wrong! Why would anyone think he/she has the right to seek employment from a contractor with whom you have oversight on the contracts received, directly or indirectly. Sure, as Commissioner, Davy himself would not directly negotiate the contracts, but he could certainly influence staff under him in awarding contracts! But, because individuals like Davy think they can do whatever they damn well feel like, do such arrogant, unethical, immoral things!
Those of us who are the low peons in the system are afraid to take a $2.00 box of chocolates or some homemade jam from someone contracted with the State, or as appreciation for work well done by a family, for fear we are violating State Ethical Standards. But people like Davy can look for employement, probably involving hundreds of thousands or dollars, for their own personal gain! It makes one stop to think just what kind of people we have in the higher echelons of State government!