Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ex-New Jersey Public Advocate hit with ethics fine

A former ratepayer advocate has been fined $11,000 for ethics violations, most of which stem from her simultaneously working for the state while serving as president of the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce (AICC), and allegedly influencing the awarding of government contracts to five vendors associated with the group, NJ Spotlight reports today.
Seema Singh
"The State Ethics Commission handed down the penalties against Seema Singh, who was ratepayer advocate during the Corzine administration, a Cabinet-level post that entrusts her with representing the interest of business and residential customers on utility issues.
“As president of the AICC, Singh held a leadership role in a trade organization whose mission was to further the economic interest of the member business,’’ according to the final decision by the commission, a post that put her at odds with her job as ratepayer advocate.
"Singh’s attorney, Herbert Waldman, has filed an appeal of the decision in the courts, saying the ruling by the commission is “both unfair and wrong.’’ He described the state agency as both the prosecutor, which brought the charges, and the judge, deciding the case.
"The decision by the commission, however, was especially scathing, saying Singh, a Princeton attorney, violated sections of the New Jersey conflict of interest law and the ratepayer advocate’s own code of ethics. Singh declined to comment, forwarding questions to her attorney."

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