A New Jersey state lawmaker is following up claims that Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems, a red-light camera company, bribed New Jersey officials, among 13 states, to install red-light cameras at major intersections. Bribery allegations involving Redflex Traffic Systems include luxury hotel suites, golf outings and football and baseball game tickets, as well as an assortment of lavish gifts that were provided to local officials in return for secure contracts.
The allegations come after former Redflex Traffic Systems top sales executive Aaron Rosenberg was blamed by the company for the incident and subsequently fired. Rosenberg fired back in a counterclaim, saying the company made him a “scapegoat” and that bribery happened on all levels in the company, and that this was the “norm.”
Among the other states mentioned in the scandal were Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, George, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. In New Jersey, Redflex’s red-light camera company operated in a number of counties, and has provided the company–as well as local officials–millions of dollars in paid violations. The Ocean County community in New Jersey is the first municipality to cut the cord on its red-light camera program, which Redflex used to bribe NJ officials.
New Jersey State Assemblyman Declan O’ Scanlon (R-Red Bank), who has led the charge for an investigation, says that the claims are “outrageous” and that “it needs to be investigated.” He chastised the practice of using red-light cameras, saying they do nothing more than steal from motorists and do little to prevent accidents, as is claimed by the aggressive sales team behind the red-light cameras.
“It’s a disgusting system that exists just to steal money,” said O’ Scanlon in an interview. He went on to say that Redflex Traffic Systems’ behind the scene deals with lawmakers is “sanctioned theft of motorists,” and that New Jersey residents “don’t deserve it.” O’ Scanlon claimed that the red-light camera did not actually prevent accidents, but more often than not, increased the risk, with motorists panicking at the idea of being caught violating a traffic stop.
Redflex Traffic Systems first came under scrutiny in 2012, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel halted a contract after allegations arose of bribery and corruption of local officials. The Chicago Tribune published a story asserting that Redflex Traffic Systems “improperly paid” a $910 luxury hotel bill for an official who was directly involved with the red-light camera program and its contract.
In a statement, Redflex said they are committed to “transparency” and place the blame solely on Rosenberg for “violating company policies and procedures.” They also said their lawsuit against Rosenberg will go on as planned.
With recent scandals such as Chris Christie’s extortion of a New Jersey mayor over backlogged Hurricane Sandy relief funds, as well as the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey corruption has been under intense scrutiny from reform-minded law makers. The Redflex Traffic Systems scandal is only the latest for federal investigators to tack on to New Jersey’s growing corruption issues.
The average cost of violating a red-light camera is between $85 to $140. The increase in accidents at these traffic points are usually in the form of fender benders, with motorists stopping short.
The revenue generated from the cameras makes it hard for local officials to part with, say observers, but the resulting corruption and increased traffic accidents may prove to tip the balance in favor of opponents of Redflex’s red-light camera program, which bribed NJ officials.
By John Amaruso