Home Part of States Newsroom
News
Two officials accused of using transit agency to seek revenge over political spat

Share

Two officials accused of using transit agency to seek revenge over political spat

Jun 14, 2024 | 5:20 pm ET
By Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Share
Two officials accused of using transit agency to seek revenge over political spat
Description
Attorney General Matt Platkin's office says the two men texted about their plan to block payments to an engineering firm over a political feud. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

Attorney General Matt Platkin alleges a political feud between a Democratic Party power broker and a Mercer County commissioner led two South Jersey Transportation Authority board members to block payments to the commissioner’s engineering firm in retaliation.

Christopher Milam, the board’s vice chairman, and Bryan Bush, a board member, are facing charges of official misconduct, conspiracy to commit official misconduct, and perjury. Milam also chairs Washington Township’s Democratic Party.

Investigators with Platkin’s public integrity and accountability office allege the two Sewell men texted about their plan to block the payments. The charges were announced in a press release Friday.

“As this investigation continues, today we are sending a clear message: No matter how connected or powerful you are, if there is evidence suggesting that you have used your position and taxpayer dollars for political retribution or gain, we will hold you accountable,” Platkin said in a statement. “And if you lie to a grand jury, as alleged here, to cover up your conduct, you will answer for that, too.”

During three board meetings in 2023, Milam and Bush cast “no” votes that prevented the South Jersey Transportation Authority — which oversees the Atlantic City International Airport, Atlantic City Expressway, and other South Jersey public transportation facilities from paying an unidentified engineering firm.

Politico New Jersey and the Philadelphia Inquirer have reported the feud is between South Jersey power broker George Norcross and Mercer County Commissioner John Cimino (both are unnamed in Platkin’s release). The outlets said Norcross asked Cimino in 2022 to stay neutral in the Mercer County executive race the following year, and Cimino instead endorsed a candidate who was not backed by Norcross in December 2022.

On Feb. 8, 2023, Platkin’s office alleges Milam texted Bush, “They cut South Jersey in Mercer County so now we vote no.”

Cimino works for engineering firm T&M Associates.

A spokesman for Norcross denied any ties to the case.

“As we have said repeatedly and in prior public statements, Mr. Norcross had no involvement in the South Jersey Transportation Authority matter,” said spokesman Daniel Fee.

Attorneys for Bush and Milam could not be reached for comment.

Milam and Bush are also accused of giving false testimony under oath to a state grand jury in Trenton in March. They claimed they voted against the payments because they had concerns about the engineering firm, including possible double billing and other errors, Platkin’s office says.