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Legislators move to shield public officials’ home addresses from public


Legislators move to shield public officials’ home addresses from public

Mar 30, 2023 | 6:22 pm ET
By Dana DiFilippo
Legislators move to shield public officials’ home addresses from public
Assemblyman Jay Webber objected to the bill, saying public officials’ constituents have a right to know where their leaders live. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

Lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate passed a bill Thursday that would keep the property addresses of local public office holders from the public, one month after the Legislature voted for a measure to shield their own home addresses.

Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Warren), a prime sponsor with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), pointed to the February murder of Sayreville councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour as evidence this protection is needed.

“We just lost a councilwoman in Sayreville practically in front of her house,” DiMaio told the New Jersey Monitor. “It’s crazy times we live in. There’s a tremendous mental health issue in a lot of folks in the world. It’s just meant to protect folks.”

The bill drove one Republican lawmaker to stand up in objection, saying withholding public officials’ addresses from the public would eliminate transparency. Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris) accused his colleagues of “rank hypocrisy” for supporting such a bill, after earlier passing a controversial campaign finance bill called the Election Transparency Act.

“I still think our local elected officials should have their addresses published because the people they represent deserve to know where they live. They deserve to affirm that their elected officials are eligible for the positions that they’re holding, and they deserve to be able to confirm the properties that they hold,” Webber said. “I think that level of transparency is appropriate.”

The Assembly approved the measure by a vote of 56-14.

The bill would apply to local elected officials and some non-elected public workers, including zoning officials, members of independent municipal authorities, and certain high-ranking local government officials. If signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, those officials would no longer have to list their home addresses on financial disclosure forms they must file annually.

In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) and passed without discussion in a 26-7 vote. It now heads to Murphy’s desk.