Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Coalition Against Corrupt Politicians (CACP): The Right Message, Wrong Messenger?

Craig Carton and Ray Rossi, The Jersey Guys from New Jersey 101.5 FM, have launched the Coalition Against Corrupt Politicians (CACP), an anonymous system by which residents of New Jersey can report politicians they believe are engaging in corruption including pension padding and cronyism. The Jersey Guys then investigate the allegations, file Open Public Records Act requests to learn more, and pass on both the allegations of corruption and any evidence they gather to Chris Christie, the United States Attorney for the State of New Jersey. Prominent legislators from both political parties have joined CACP including Senator John Adler (D) and Senator Joe Vitale (D), as well as Tom Kean, Jr. (R) and former Gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester (R). While CACP is a worthy idea that can provide benefits to the residents of New Jersey, the Jersey Guys are not the most credible or most appropriate individuals to carry the banner to rid our State of political corruption.

The Jersey Guys have had a serious “Imus problem” for many years. When Jun Choi ran for Mayor of Edison, Carton and Rossi were relentless in bastardizing his name and Asian background. Just last week, they launched a hotline for residents to report people they thought to be illegal immigrants, stirring anti-immigrant fears and resulting in major sponsors of the show, including Dunkin Donuts, to pull their advertisements. Only after advertisers pulled their ads did the Jersey Guys eliminate the hotline. These are the same Jersey Guys who insulted Governor Codey’s wife and derided the mentally ill, resulting in a near physical altercation with Governor Codey.

Carton and Rossi are certainly not model citizens and while their idea is worthwhile, their sometimes-hateful shock speech undermines CACP and its mission. They should not be allowed to lead a public fight against corruption with the support of many elected officials while, at the same time, engaging in hate speech that undermines our public dialogue. The Jersey Guys should refrain from further shock jock antics if they wish to have CACP taken seriously and to be a true force for eliminating corruption in New Jersey. Public officials who have endorsed CACP should insist that the Jersey Guys cease and desist with their shock schlock or they will end their association with CACP. Carton and Rossi should realize that they can be just as popular without engaging in racist, sexist, and demeaning “jokes” and can use their platform to truly improve New Jersey politics.

Accountability is also a necessity. The allegations reported to the Jersey Guys should be logged and an audit trail established that shows what actions they took regarding each accusation and records how and when the allegations were communicated to the United States Attorney’s Office. It is critical that all allegations be evaluated on their merits and not the partisanship of the officeholder that is being accused. Furthermore, the confidentiality promised by the Jersey Guys on their website must be strictly enforced to protect all who are involved.

Commanding the airwaves instills with it responsibility. The Jersey Guys have taken the first step towards fulfilling their responsibilities to the public by launching CACP. They took a further step when they reversed course and eliminated their “program” to expose “illegal immigrants.” They should continue down the path to weed out corruption and be a positive force for change in New Jersey politics. However, should they continue to resort to hateful shock speech, they will undermine CACP and reduce its potential impact, while further exacerbating discourse in New Jersey. Come on Jersey Guys – stop the shock and instead concentrate on catching those who are corrupt.

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of, is an attorney who resides in New Providence, New Jersey. He currently serves as the Chairman of the New Providence Democratic Party and as Editor of The Alternative Press Contact Mike at