The Political Junk Shot Epidemic Hits My Hometown

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There’s no reason why you would have heard of Cumberland County, New Jersey. Trust me, I’m from there. Until recently, our claims to fame included serving as one of the last vestiges of “garden” in the Garden State and our proximity to Philadelphia and Atlantic City. But now my home county has gained international attention due to it’s very own junk shot scandal involving a local Democratic pol.

On Tuesday, Lou Magazzu, a member of the county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders (the county-level government body) resigned after naked photos he sent to a woman he corresponded with online appeared on the internet. The photos of Magazzu first surfaced in early July, but it was only this week that story hit the local press. From the Cumberland News:

The photographs were acquired by county Republican political activist Carl Johnson, a long-time enemy of Magazzu, a Democrat, who stated the woman gave him the pictures along with numerous text messages and e-mails allegedly sent between her and the former freeholder.

Magazzu accused the woman of “working with an avowed political enemy” to distribute the photos. His lawyer also argued that this Magazzu’s controversy is different from the national scandal featuring ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, because the photos were sent “to one adult, consenting woman, in a private capacity.”

My father, also a member of the board, has been tapped to sit on the ethics committee that has been empaneled in the wake of the scandal. I’m not really sure how much ethical policy there is to work out here though. “No photos of your genitalia on the internet” should be a fairly straightforward prerequisite for sitting public officials—unless you were elected based on your past notoriety as a porn star or nude model. Then you get a special pass.

Apparently the Magazzu scandal is making my home county famous. So far, it’s made the New York Daily News, Political Wire, and even the UK’s Daily Mail.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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