Democratic Gov. Brendan T. Byrne touched off a minor tempest in 1977 when he tapped Kenneth N. MacDonald, an active Republican in a Democratic county, to be a member of the state's new Casino Control Commission.
But today, MacDonald 's only fellow Republican on the commission called on MacDonald to withdraw temporarily from the commission's business, in the wake of reports of a FBI "sting" bribery probe that has involved MacDonald and some of his former Democratic rivals in Camden County.
Casino Control Commission member Albert W. Merck, said today that MacDonald should not take part in the commission's affairs until he has been cleared of published allegations that he sought a $100,000 bribe for favorable treatment on a casino license application.
Merck said the allegation against MacDonald has "thrown a cloud over him and, automatically, over the commission."
With the panel facing a vote this spring on the controversial Atlantic City license application by Caesars World of Las Vegas, Merck said he felt that "prompt action in the right direction" is necessary to ensure public confidence in the commission's integrity.
One essential step, he said, "is for him to withdraw -- not resign -- until this thing has been cleared up."
A member of MacDonald's family said he was not available for comment today. But commission chairman Joseph P. Lordi told reporters that in a conversation with MacDonald on Saturday, MacDonald has insisted "that he had done nothing wrong."
MacDonald has been elected vice chairman of the powerful Casino Control Commission, which issues gambling licenses and monitors all phases of the casino industry in Atlantic City.