NJEA vs Sweeney, Prescription Probe, Murphy On Takeovers – Monday’s Roundup

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NJEA vs Sweeney
Spending on the battle for a senate seat in LD-3 is ramping up between incumbent Steve Sweeney (Democrat) and challenger Fred Grenier (a Republican with the surprise backing of the New Jersey Education Association). The NJEA threw its weight behind Grenier after falling out with Sweeney over several recent issues, NJSpotlight explains. Now the NJEA is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning in what is shaping up to be one of the most expensive election battles this year. Sweeney’s campaign response could also wind up being a drain on resources of other George Norcross-backed Democratic candidates in South Jersey. Why is the NJEA going to all this effort? “The NJEA’s strategy is beyond Steve Sweeney,” Ben Dworkin, professor and director of The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, told NJSpotlight. “It is about sending a message to everyone in the Legislature that if you cross them, as they believe Sweeney has done, they will come after you.” Dworkin later said, however, that the NJEA could suffer repercussions if Sweeney does win. ““Assuming Sweeney wins, I’m sure the NJEA will suffer various slights over the coming legislative session,” he said. “There are plenty of ways to box them out.”
Want to read more about the NJEA? This Star Ledger column by Tom Moran points out that the top five NJEA directors earned $750,000 on average in 2015.

Bob Comlay

Bald eagles over Greenwich, NJ. We spotted them on a trip on the A.J. Meerwald. Follow us on Instagram at @route_40 for more.

Prescription Probe
Margate doctor John Gaffney on Friday pled guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense, with sentencing scheduled for Jan. 5. There are a couple of details worth noting from the plea agreement (read it in full here). The calculation of the scale of the fraud is still ongoing, but as of the July plea agreement, parties agreed it was close to $25 million. A separate information sheet on the case says the pharmacy benefits administrator (which verified claims for payment for creams made by the compounding pharmacy) paid the compounding pharmacy more than $50 million for compound medications mailed to New Jersey residents in 2015 and 2016. There is still not a lot of detail into how or when fraud detection triggers were set off by this scheme. The insurer and pharmacy benefits administrator’s responsibility is not clear.

Murphy On Takeovers
The Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Phil Murphy has again spoken out against state takeovers, NJSpotlight reports. Murphy, speaking at an event in Montclair this weekend, criticized New Jersey’s takeovers for targeting communities of color. “So I don’t like the notion of state takeovers,” he continued. “Those closer to the ground should get the say-so. That’s where the governance ought to be.” From the reporting, it doesn’t seem like he was directly asked about the Atlantic City takeover. Murphy told the Oberserver in July that he was still against the Atlantic City takeover.

In the rest of the headlines from the weekend and this morning, plans to wind down the national flood insurance program are troubling South Jersey’s Representatives, three people were shot yesterday evening in Hamilton Township (no details as yet), renovations are planned for New Jersey’s Parkway and Turnpike rest stops, the owner of Manco & Manco’s in Ocean City is in prison for tax evasion but patrons are annoyed the restaurants still only take cash, Atlantic City Electric rates are rising 4 percent, and even the LA Times is writing about welfare fraud in Lakewood. All that and more below:

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