Charitable Choice, Jersey style

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Forgive me, but I grew up in Essex County, NJ and put in my time as a daily journalist. So I’m a little bit skeptical that the $87,000 that Gov. Jon Corzine, he of the Wall Street millions, donated last year to St. Matthew AME Church in Orange had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the endorsement of Corzine’s reelection by the church’s pastor, Rev. Reginald Jackson. Jackson happens to be head of the state’s Black Ministers Council–“a key player in state politics” whose endorsement “is highly sought.” Thirty-seven of the governor’s 87K, it seems, went toward the good work of furthering Jackson’s second (unsuccessful) try at becoming AME bishop. Like, I support your campaign and you support mine?

And yet, writes Star Ledger columnist Tom Moran, “People who know Jackson understand that he is not the sort to take a bribe.”

He is a sharp critic of the governor on urban education. He sides
with Republicans in his advocacy of school vouchers. He led the effort
to stamp out racial profiling by the State Police. Yet he was outspoken
in denouncing the cheap use of the race card by politicians like the
former Sen. Sharpe James. The reverend’s convictions run deep.

Now, though, Jackson is in the painful position of having to wriggle
away from this obvious conflict of interest. He can take the donation.
Or he can offer the endorsement. But how can he do both?

“Those who don’t know me, I can easily see why they would feel, ‘They bought him off,'” says Jackson.

In the land of Frank Hague, Hugh Addonizio, Kenneth Gibson, Solomon Dwek, and Tony Soprano? You think?