New Jersey residents object to pols accepting large gifts, vacations

 U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington this month.He took a business-as-usual approach when he returned to Congress after his April 1 indictment on federal corruption charges. (AP photo/Andrew Harnik)

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington this month.He took a business-as-usual approach when he returned to Congress after his April 1 indictment on federal corruption charges. (AP photo/Andrew Harnik)

A new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll finds general agreement among New Jersey residents on what is unacceptable behavior by politicians.

Nearly 90 percent say it’s not right for elected officials to accept large gifts and vacations from supporters.

The poll was conducted following a 14-count federal indictment of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez that alleges he accepted gifts from a longtime friend in exchange for advancing the Florida doctor’s financial interests.

A majority of residents surveyed said they believe politicians should not contact government agencies on behalf of their friends, funnel state money to businesses owned by political allies, or try to get traffic tickets fixed for friends and relatives.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Dan Cassino said those public perceptions might have an impact.

“I think we actually have seen some signs that politicians are much more sensitive to what’s going on in the public. So at least we have politicians in New Jersey saying that they’re worried about the perception of corruption and, sadly, I think that’s a step up for us.”

While residents may get angry when they hear about corruption, Cassino said, constituents often give the benefit of doubt to politicians they like.

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