Thursday, June 21, 2018

Councilmembers Ramos & DeFusco: Ravi Bhalla must disclose clients or resign second job

Official release:

In Wake of Bhalla’s Supreme Court Censure, Ramos & DeFusco Call on Mayor to Disclose Clients or Resign from Second Job

Hoboken, NJ – Just hours after it was revealed that Mayor Ravi Bhalla had been censured by the State Supreme Court for an ethics violation, Hoboken City Council members Ruben Ramos and Mike DeFusco's proposed ordinance that would mandate that the Mayor disclose his clients and compensation from his controversial and unprecedented second job was scheduled to be voted on at last night's meeting. That vote was tabled, however, after Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia publicly declared that he would not enforce the ordinance. This shocking refusal by the city’s attorney to hold Mayor Bhalla accountable for potential conflicts of interest related to his business development job with a politically connected law firm leaves the city open to serious liability and undercuts the public’s trust in the Office of the Mayor.

"It's appalling that after months of the Mayor ignoring the City Council and refusing to accept any oversight regarding his second job that he would then send Corporation Counsel out to publicly threaten Council members last night for simply trying to bring sunshine to this unprecedented situation,” said Council President Ramos. “Transparency is essential to protect the city and taxpayers from potentially damaging conflicts of interest due to Mayor Bhalla's employment at a politically connected law firm, and if the city attorney won’t enforce this then the Mayor needs to do the right thing and disclose his clients voluntarily.”

Ramos and DeFusco are calling on Mayor Bhalla to voluntarily disclose his clients and compensation from the law firm in order to ensure that no conflicts of interest with his role as Mayor occur. If Mayor Bhalla refuses, the Council members are calling on him to resign from the law firm and they will continue to pursue all options to ensure outside employment doesn’t create a conflict with Bhalla's role as Mayor, including but not limited to the formation of an ethics board.

“With Mayor Bhalla now being censured by the State Supreme Court for an ethics violation, in addition to his other past and ongoing ethical issues, Council oversight on this unprecedented situation is more urgent now than ever,” said Councilman DeFusco. “Given Mr. Aloia's refusal to act, we feel that there are only two valid options at this point: either Mayor Bhalla must voluntarily disclose his clients and income generated from his second job, or he should resign and return to his broken campaign promise of serving as a full time Mayor."