June 3rd was the eighth anniversary for the passing of late Senator Frank Lautenberg who died in 2013. He served his nation proudly in World War II and went on to found Automatic Data Processing, Inc. becoming a multimillionaire.
There was also another side to his personality. In 1982, he ran against Republican four term Congress member Millicent Fenwick for the United States Senate. Fenwick was a moderate progressive Republican who was a champion of both Civil Rights and Women’s Rights. Then 58 year old Lautenberg ran a negative, and today most would say sexist campaign, against 72 year old Fenwick. He implied she was too old for the job and could not serve long enough to develop seniority. How ironic that Lautenberg went on to serve until age 89.
Lautenberg retired in 2000 to enjoy his golden years making way for a younger, newer Senator. In 2003, then Democratic Senator Robert C. Torricelli’s campaign imploded. It was discovered that imprisoned Korean businessman David Chang made significant campaign contributions to help Torricelli. With five weeks left before Election Day, all polls showed this scandal would result in his defeat to Republican candidate Doug Forrester.
After any party primary, Torricelli as the officially designated candidate would have been required to stay on the ballot. The only exceptions are death, nomination to a judgeship or moving your official residence out of state. At that point, the committee on vacancies is allowed to substitute another name. New Jersey Democrats manipulated the process and convinced Torricelli to drop out. Lautenberg came out of retirement at 79. Democrats were convinced he was the only one who could hold this seat.
Under Lautenberg’s watch, the only thing that grew faster than reconstruction of 1 World Trade Center was our national debt. It went up by $15.7 trillion increasing from $1 trillion in 1982 to $16.7 trillion during his time as a Senator. Lautenberg never talked about this at his standard Sunday news conferences. It was nothing to be proud of.
Lautenberg was a good man, but not worthy of sainthood.