Steve Sweeney Wants “Integrity Monitors” For Sandy Money [POLL/AUDIO]
Congress has approved a total of more than $60 billion in Sandy relief aid for the Garden State and New York. The top Democrat in the New Jersey Senate says when you're talking about that much money, you had better make sure none of it is squandered.
Sweeney Wants Oversight
Senate President Steve Sweeney is pushing legislation to require strict oversight once the relief money starts coming in.
Under Sweeney's bill, the State Treasurer would hire outside 'integrity monitors.' The Senate President says these forensic accountants and auditors will have the job of keeping tabs on every penny of Sandy relief.
"In the past, when you've seen money come into areas, like billions of dollars all coming at once, there's been abuse," explains Sweeney.
"Whenever you see a whole bunch of money coming in you know people are going to jump up and try to grab it. We want to make sure that is gets exactly where it belongs……We don't want to slow the process down. We want to make sure the money gets to people as quickly as possible."
There's Not Going to Be Enough Money
Sweeney says after Hurricane Katrina, over $1 billion in relief aid was spent inappropriately and in New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks people tried to cheat the state out of almost $50 million dollars in relief money.
"There's not going to be enough money," says Sweeney. "We talk about how much money is coming here, but it's not going to enough to resolve all of the problems that we have so we have to make sure that every single dollar gets where it belongs…Whenever you have large sums of money like this, if you don't have the proper oversight you know there's a likelihood that bad people will come in and do bad things."
The Legislation defines integrity monitors as private sector contractors skilled in legal compliance, investigations, accounting, engineering, construction compliance, risk assessment, loss prevention and the ability to detect misconduct and promote efficiency.
Sweeney says he's working with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver on the measure and expects Governor Chris Christie to support the bill.