Jim McDonald is weeks away from hitting a jackpot in New Jersey’s election sweepstakes as a new double-dipping county sheriff.
In January, he retired as Washington Township police chief at age 54 to draw a $94,000 a year state pension – and run for Warren County sheriff. He is unopposed on the November ballot after winning the GOP primary on a platform of “fiscal responsibility.”
McDonald is a sure bet to add a sheriff’s salary of $128,000 to his income next year, increasing his total annual take from public coffers to $222,000. He and his campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
“Public pensions are not really intended to be a way to change your lifestyle and double your income,” said Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Red Bank, a longtime opponent of double-dipping. “It was created to support you when you are no longer working.”
Currently, three-fourths of the state’s sheriffs – 16 out of 21 – take advantage of existing loopholes to draw county salaries while receiving pensions as law enforcement “retirees,” according to a NJ Spotlight analysis. In an upcoming election packed with sheriff candidates who are double-dippers or would-be double-dippers, those numbers are unlikely to change much.
The full story on double-dippers running for sheriff is online at http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/09/18/double-dippers-dominate-sheriff-elections-across-new-jersey/
NJ Spotlight’s current list of double-dipping sheriffs is posted at http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/09/18/the-list-new-jersey-s-16-double-dipping-county-sheriffs/
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Mark Lagerkvist is a veteran investigative reporter who has worked for CNBC, News 12, Asbury Park Press, New Jersey Watchdog and other news outlets. His work has won more than 60 journalism awards, including honors from National Press Club, Scripps Howard Foundation, and Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). He can be reached at Mark@Lagerkvist.net.