WATER CRISIS: Potential Booker 2020 opponent tells Newark he’ll help probe corruption during Booker’s tenure

NEWARK, N.J. – The long process of replacing Newark’s lead-producing water lines is finally underway, but the core problems in city government which brought about the crisis remain unaddressed. Chief among those antecedents: rampant corruption which was in full-swing under the leadership of former mayor (and current U.S. Senator) Cory Booker.

One of Booker’s possible 2020 Senate challengers isn’t just complaining about Booker’s role in bringing about the water crisis. This week, he wrote to incumbent Newark Mayor Ras Baraka offering his services in launching a full-scale investigation.

“As a former prosecutor, who spent a significant part of my career prosecuting fraud, I am especially pained by the fact that this crisis was caused – in part – by the misdeeds of political cronies, who put their own greed above the citizens they were called to protect,” said Stuart Meissner. “With almost no oversight, the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation (“NWCDC”) devolved into a hotbed of corruption—according to a report from the New Jersey State Comptroller—leaving no one in charge to consider critical infrastructure upgrades to the water system. Disturbing new allegations have also emerged that NWCDC political appointees pressured vendors into making contributions to then-Mayor Cory Booker’s campaign. It is imperative that we investigate these charges and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.”

Meissner worked for the Manhattan District Attorney and later New York Attorney General’s Office before gaining notoriety as a whistleblower attorney; he announced the formation of an exploratory committee for the still-forming 2020 race late last month. Other possible candidates include former independent candidate Tricia Flanagan and former NJ-02 primary candidate Hirsh Singh.

The full text of Meissner’s letter is posted below.

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The Honorable Ras J. Baraka

City Hall

920 Broad Street

Newark, NJ 07102

Dear Mayor Baraka:

I hope this letter finds you well amid the terrible crisis the City of Newark is facing. I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of Newark residents who are struggling to access safe drinking water.

As a former prosecutor, who spent a significant part of my career prosecuting fraud, I am especially pained by the fact that this crisis was caused – in part – by the misdeeds of political cronies, who put their own greed above the citizens they were called to protect. With almost no oversight, the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation (“NWCDC”) devolved into a hotbed of corruption—according to a report from the New Jersey State Comptroller—leaving no one in charge to consider critical infrastructure upgrades to the water system. Disturbing new allegations have also emerged that NWCDC political appointees pressured vendors into making contributions to then-Mayor Cory Booker’s campaign. It is imperative that we investigate these charges and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.

In recent days, I have observed with some interest how Rev. Al Sharpton has become involved in efforts to help Newark. As a lawyer in private practice, I have been fortunate enough to attain some success in life, and I am looking now to lend my time and resources to ensure that the residents of Newark have clean drinking water.

Please advise as to when and where my efforts—whether it is a donation of water or helping to pass out supplies—might be the most useful during this troubling time.

Sincerely,

Stuart D. Meissner

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