By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – It’s not every day you see an elected Democrat, who also happens to be a labor official, suggest that union leaders are breaking the law.

But that’s exactly what the New Jersey State Senate President is doing and he wants a criminal probe.

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It’s all over properly funding state pensions. Steve Sweeney is upset that leaders of the NJEA and the FOP are putting the word out.

Pass the referendum question by Monday or see political contributions dry up. That, in Sweeney’s mind, crosses the line:

“You can withhold contributions to somebody because you’re unhappy with the legislature,” he told reporters at a hastily called news conference at the state capitol. “But to specifically tie it to an action, in my mind, is illegal.”

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NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer insists Sweeney’s got it wrong, and it’s the Senator’s insistence to tie this question to fixing the Transportation Trust Fund that’s causing the problem.

“Elected officials know that our members will not allow NJEA to support candidates who do not support their priorities,” Steinhauer told KYW Newsradio. “NJEA’s support of politicians is not an entitlement. It is earned.”

The Senate must approve the referendum question by Monday or it will not be on this November’s ballot.

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Sweeney has written the state Attorney General and the US Attorney suggesting the threats violate state and federal law and wants both offices to look into things.