For all those New Jersey voters who are active observers of the US Senate race to fill the late Frank Lautenberg’s seat, one cannot help but wonder why their tax dollars are being spent on a special election in October and then yet a general election in November. They also may be wondering why the once burgeoning economy of the Garden State is still floundering; why their state is ranked the 4th highest in the nation as it pertains to unemployment; why their school system is producing abysmally bleak results and why family laws are outrageously inequitable.
Thus far, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) has been running for the office of US Senate virtually unopposed by any formidable candidate many feel that he has not provided cogent answers to these queries while making his routine stump stops or in the media.
Hearing the palpable angst of his fellow New Jerseyians on a gamut of issues pertaining to their future, Tenalfy resident , SEC attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor, Stuart D. Meissner has taken up the proverbial gauntlet and thrown his hat in the ring as an Independent candidate for Senate.
In a recent interview with The Jewish Voice, Meissner said in a voice reverberating with exuberance, “I am running for the US Senate seat because the people of New Jersey need a bold, honest candidate who is well acquainted with the issues they face and who has the experience in advocating for the rights of the marginalized. The majority of New Jersey voters I have spoken with have expressed their desire to vanquish backroom deals and influence peddling in the state’s political infrastructure and I intend to do just that when I’m elected.”
Irrespective of the fact that he’s never held public office, Mr. Meissner played a significant role in Democratic party politics back in the 1980s in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York. It was there where he gained a hands-on knowledge of just what elected officials can do through legislation to positively impact their constituents.
Having served as an Assistant Attorney General under Eliot Spitzer in New York State, Mr. Meissner has prosecuted both blue and white collar financial offenses. He formed his own practice in 2001, successfully representing individual investors and whistleblowers in disputes against major banking institutions.
Because of his experience as a prosecutor, Mr. Meissner is concerned about privacy laws and the internet, the environment and is dedicated to changing the problematic family court system within the State of New Jersey.
Running without the benefit of a behemoth party machine behind him doesn’t seem to perturb Mr. Meissner. He says that Independents and unaffiliated voters make up the largest voter group in New Jersey, even more than Democrats and Republicans. He adds that New Jersey has the fourth largest number of unaffiliated and independent voters in the country and he intends to call upon those voters to let their voices be heard in this election and stand up to the traditional party politics.
This year, Meissner says, the Senate may be an even split between the two parties and if New Jersey has the only Independent Senator, he or she would, in effect, cast the deciding vote on major issues impacting the state and the country. He notes that a Democrat will have to toe the party line, but not an Independent who will “vote for what’s right for the country and New Jersey and as a result New Jersey will have a powerful voice in the Senate, rather than the most junior Senator in one of the parties.”
As a strong and vocal supporter of Israel for decades, and the son of Holocaust survivors, Meissner is intensely concerned about the security and safety of Israel, and says he will seek to protect those concerns as a United States Senator.
“As far back as I can remember, every politician from both sides of the aisle has promised that they would make it their priority to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and nothing has been done. Let’s face it. This would a statement that would send shock waves around the world and is a critically important one,” he declares.
Adding that of all the issues serving as impediments to the Middle East peace process and the establishment of the two-state solution, the most significant hindrance is the control of Jerusalem.
Pointing to a glaring double standard, Meissner observed that prior to the 1967 war, “Jordan controlled Jerusalem. However, there were no organizations at that time objecting to Jordan’s control. It was only after members of the Jewish faith took control of Jerusalem that the issue of “Palestinian rights” to Jerusalem was suddenly raised.”
Speaking of pluralism and the rise of diversity in all faiths, Meissner said, “Look, history has proven that if we want Jerusalem to be a city that accommodates all people of all faiths, then the only ones who have guaranteed access to the holy sites of all three major religions have been the Israelis, and we shudder to think what Jerusalem would evolve into if it were under the sovereignty of another nation.”
Concerning his feelings on the upcoming special election in October, Meissner pulls no punches: “To anyone who believes this was an accident, I have a bridge in Bayonne they can buy. Actually, considering Cory Booker’s views on private equity I would not be surprised if it won’t be for sale.”
Meissner says that the special election is costing the taxpayers $6 million and attributes this most unusual move to a Tammany Hall kind of political mentality. He believes that the “backroom deal reminiscent of old time New Jersey politics” militated in favor of the current special election and is systemic with what is wrong with Washington today. Meissner says that, “the special election and the manner in which it is being carried out seeks to attempt to cement a coronation of Mr. Booker as Senator for the State of New Jersey and at the same time insures a high vote tally Governor Christie who has Presidential ambitions, all at the expense of New Jersey tax payers.”
Meissner says that the issues that have been surfacing about Booker’s integrity are deeply troubling to voters. According to an August 11, 2003 article in the New York Post, Booker pocketed “confidential” annual payouts from his former law firm while serving as Newark mayor. The report added that Booker “received five checks from the firm during the time period of 2007-2011 and during that time, the firm raked in more than $2 million in fees from local agencies over which Booker has influence.”
Moreover, Booker has been under media scrutiny for his mismanagement of a $100 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for improvement of Newark schools that was announced three years ago on Oprah Winfrey’s show. Reports suggest that the money was squandered, pointing to a high dropout rate amongst the city’s students and low literacy rates in the school system.
As a vocal advocate for family law reform in New Jersey, Meissner speaks of the fractious legal system in New Jersey.
“As a prosecutor and practicing lawyer for over 25 years, I understand both the strengths of our legal system and its weaknesses and deficiencies. However, in New Jersey, as well as nationally, the family courts are badly broken to an extent that I would have never imagined had I not unfortunately been in the system. The family courts, where the majority of New Jersey residents, or a member of their family, will encounter in their lives at some point, are in need of a major overhaul,” he said.
To that end, Meissner said he would seek to hold immediate hearings on the defrauding of the Federal government by various state bureaucracies who have used the divorce industry as its personal piggy bank to support its own collection bureaucrats, as well as state and judicial employee pensions, under the guise of collecting child support.
He asserts that hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, have been improperly collected by the states from the federal government over the years in relation to the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program. The Program was meant to support states in their collection of child support period. Instead, he says, in order to maximize the federal tax boondoggle, the states have been intentionally meshing child support collections with alimony collection and reporting the entire amount as child support. In so doing they are multiplying the amount of federal tax dollars the states collect from the federal government. Thus as a result every dollar of alimony collected by the State is matched by sixty (.60) cents on the dollar from the federal government to then spend on the very people doing the enforcing, probation departments, judicial pensions, etc. creating clear and dangerous conflicts of interest.
Meissner said he will seek to put an end to that activity which has the effect of causing enforcement agents as well as politically appointed judges to ignore due process, ignore the requirement of statutorily mandated ability to pay hearings, and presume people guilty of intentional violations of Court orders, rather than the opposite, which premise is the foundation of this country.