Fifteen donors pooled their money to provide 60% of the funds used to power Reform Jersey Now, the shady slush fund created to privately boost Chris Christie’s agenda, and hit Democrats who might oppose it. The fund was created for the new governor by his GOP allies and run by Mike DuHaime, GOP strategist and the architect of Christie’s campaign, with former Franklin Lakes councilman Chuck Shotmeyer listed as president.
Was this list released today to divert attention from Chris Christie’s irresponsible decision to leave the state to avoid handling a messy snow emergency? The governor’s due back in New Jersey tomorrow.
After months of editorials harshly criticizing the fund’s obvious design to elude campaign finance laws created for the purpose of greater transparency in government, Reform is closing up shop. Rather than adhere to those rules, the architects of Reform chose to operate instead – legally, but probably unethically – under IRS rules. Creating Reform under those rules meant the fund was not technically obligated to show its finances or follow contribution limits adhered to by most politicians, such as those created to avoid pay-to-play advantages.
In a memo Reform released today, 244 donors are listed – including the core 15 – combining for a total raised of $623,784. Read the entire list here.
Missing is a list of the fund’s expenditures, so New Jerseyans can follow the impact of the private financing of the slush fund’s activities. For the most part, Reform acted in secret, but some of its projects are known: radio ads in June supporting Christie’s property tax agenda (and in no way making clear that the support came from a group organized around the governor), and a direct mail & robo-call campaign directed at Democratic lawmakers like senators Steve Sweeney and Paul Sarlo. Reform had a half-year life, and will shut down Friday.
follow me below the fold for more scandalous details.
DiFrancesco is on Reform‘s board, along with Christie Whitman and Christie pal and adviser Bill Palatucci, who was Christie’s campaign treasurer, serves as a Republican National Committee member, and was named by NJ GOP Chair Jay Webber to the GOP’s 5-member redistricting team that will redraw New Jersey in the coming weeks. Last month, Democratic leaders called for Palatucci to resign the NJ Apportionment Commission until Reform came clean about its donors and activities, because there was no way to know if Christie’s shadowy Reform fund was subsidizing the Republicans’ mapdrawing efforts in redistricting. We still don’t know that. Among questions raised today by Democratic Chair John Wisniewski, are these: Why weren’t these names released before the election? Will the governor hold these donors to the same requirements as other contributors? Where did Reform spend, and who benefitted?
Several of these entities raise concerns, among them Ferreira Construction, Harms Construction and Langan Engineering which each had contracts with state authorities in 2009 exceeding $17,500, as APP points out. Also, law firm partners Michael Perrucci and Douglas Steinhardt (who is Warren County GOP chair) each gave $22,500. Their firm held contracts with New Jersey Transit, NJ Meadowlands Commission & South Jersey Transportation Authority in 2009 and was hired last week by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
I included links here for the list above because at first glance the connections to the ongoing GOP campaign of Gov. Christie, and what if anything these people and corporations might gain from their efforts to propel Christie’s agenda, well, those things are just not known. So those links are just to get you – and us – started to see who the people are who are behind Chris Christie’s still largely-secret (until we know what they did with their money) booster club.