Bilik conspired with Democrats to take over school sports

Here is something we didn't know about that was forwarded to Watchdog by the Gloucester County GOP.  In 2011, state school board association lobbyist Marie Bilik was implicated in a scam along with South Jersey Democrat Assemblyman John Burzichelli.  He is the Democrats' number two man in the Assembly. 

What Burzichelli and Bilik got up to was reported in the Star-Ledger on April 10, 2011, by staff reporters Matthew Stanmyre and Jackie Friedman.  The headline reads:

 

E-mails from Burzichelli to NJSBA leaders show takeover plans under way before NJSIAA probe began

. . .Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) communicated with officials from the New Jersey School Boards Association to devise a plan to phase in oversight of interscholastic athletics, according to a special report by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association that was obtained by The Star-Ledger last week.

The NJSIAA compiled the report with e-mail exchanges among Burzichelli, NJSBA director of governmental relations Michael Vrancik and NJSBA executive director Marie Bilik, among others. The e-mails were obtained through an Open Public Records Act request by the NJSIAA.

The report, which was mailed to members of the NJSIAA’s executive committee Friday to update the group on legislative activity, illustrates a continued dialogue from February 2010 to October 2010 in which Burzichelli and NJSBA officials discussed ways to “starve off” the NJSIAA, formulate a transition plan and map out specific details such as the creation of a new logo for the organization.

Specifically, the report states:

•Burzichelli actively sought to eliminate the requirement that school boards be members of the NJSBA, then dropped that stance and within a month sought to expand its role by taking on high school sports.

•E-mails between Burzichelli and NJSBA officials show that the NJSBA “actively participated” in the drafting of legislation, which was introduced in October, that calls for the dissolution of the NJSIAA and for the oversight of high school sports to move under the NJSBA.

•Burzichelli and the NJSBA held “secret discussions” as the State Commission of Investigation was examining the finances and operations of the NJSIAA.

•As predetermined, the governor’s office leaked the SCI report to the news media, according to an e-mail that Bilik sent to her staff.

•Members of the NJSBA expressed trepidation over taking on high school sports. In one e-mail, NJSBA Director of Business Fran Pullo asks, “How does this fit into our mission?” Bilik responded: “Great question — see what great answer you can come with!!!!!”

•Burzichelli suggested reporting athletic directors who outwardly supported the NJSIAA to their school boards to indicate that they may not be acting appropriately.

“The concern I have is the possible abuse of power,” said NJSIAA attorney Michael Herbert, the primary person who compiled the report. “From the very beginning, we had taken a position that politics have no place in high school sports. And here’s a classic example of the misuse of political power.

 

Politi: With dirty backroom politics, Burzichelli has created a sham in crusade against NJSIAA

(Star-Ledger, April 10, 2011)

So now you know.  If you want to access the full report on the goings on between Burzichelli and Bilik, you can find it here:

http://media.nj.com/hssportsextra/other/NJSIAA%20Report.pdf