"CHRISTMAS TREE" GRANTS

By: Michael Shapiro

Recently, State Senator Joseph Coniglio of Bergen County was informed that he is a target in an investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office into the now-infamous “Christmas Tree” grants provided by the New Jersey State Legislature. “Christmas Tree” grants are legislative grants added on to the State budget by legislators during the final days and hours before the budget is adopted, to aid particular constituencies or organizations, often located in their legislative district or employing friends or relatives of the legislators. In Coniglio’s case, a “Christmas Tree” grant of at least $1.6 million was allegedly provided to the Hackensack University Medical Center shortly after the Center hired the Senator as a plumbing contractor at a salary of $5,000 per month. There are two important aspects of the “Christmas Tree Scandal” that the mainstream media has been overlooking.

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