Unless you have been living in a cave for the past six years, you know that Governor Christie has mastered the use of social media for his self-promotion. New Jersey taxpayers are funding a platoon of Facebook writers, YouTube videographers, and Twitter posters – not just to provide basic information to our citizens, but to act as an adjunct to Christie’s political handlers.
As a blogger who is partisan, but who tries to understand where the opposite side is coming from, I follow many right-wing politicians and organizations on social media. So I was a bit surprised when I went to Christie’s twitter page and got this message:
It seems odd that Christie doesn’t want me, a New Jersey taxpayer, to see his official state Twitter feed. (I’m in good company here. Marie Corfield, a persistent thorn in Christie’s side, is also blocked.)
I wanted to find out more, so I submitted a request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to the Governor’s office to find out more about how taxpayers are denied access to a Twitter feed that they are paying for.
Not surprisingly, my request was denied.
I requested six items pertaining to how the Governor’s staff manages his Twitter account. Some were broad, and I expected them to be denied. But the ones I was hoping for answers were these two:
|1. Provide a list of those Twitter account names that are blocked from following and viewing the @GovChristie Twitter account.
2. Provide the procedure, policy, work instruction or similar command media that documents the criteria for blocking someone from the @GovChristie account.
The first item was denied because, according to Christie’s office, it “would violate the citizen’s reasonable expectation of privacy.” So they are formally admitting that they are blocking access of certain taxpayers to their Governor’s Twitter feed.
Their response to the second item is the one that troubles me the most. According to the Governor’s office, “we have undertaken a review and have not found any records responsive to your request.” I can only reach two conclusions based on this response. Either there’s a rogue employee who decides on his own volition who gets blocked, or the governor’s office is lying. Of course, as we have seen in Bridgegate and elsewhere, both conclusions are not only possible, but also likely.
The governor is famous for presenting a “no-holds-barred” persona, but reverts to bullying when he gets criticized. Blocking my access to his Twitter feed pales in comparison with his denial of access to critical travel records. But if he can’t take some criticism from a lowly blogger who is helping fund his Twitter feeds, he certainly will have more problems on his hands when the national media start looking at his record.