NJ Senate Leader Accuses Teachers Union of Extortion

TRENTON (AP) -

New Jersey’s Senate president on Wednesday accused the state’s largest teacher’s union of threatening to withhold political contributions in exchange for a vote on requiring quarterly pension payments.

Democrat Steve Sweeney said that leaders of the New Jersey Education Association tried extorting Democratic county chairmen unless the Senate passes a proposed amendment. He called on the U.S. attorney and state attorney general to investigate the union’s action as criminal.

“These threats clearly cross the line from lobbying to attempted bribery and conspiracy,” Sweeney said.

The Democrat’s comments were an unexpected attack on an influential union in New Jersey politics, which last year directed more than $3 million to groups to help the Democrats grow their majority in the Assembly.

The proposal must be passed by Thursday in order to go onto the ballot.