Yesterday, I wrote about the misuse of state resources by the Christie for President campaign when it contracted to use the gymnasium at a public high school for the governor’s formal presidential declaration announcement. From the documents supplied by the school, it appears that taxpayers footed the bill for the rental and that state employees were involved in executing the contract.
As the expression goes, “timing is everything”, and today, the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee held a hearing on S-2949, a bill sponsored by Senator Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that would require “expenses incurred by Governor during out-of-state travel for political activities not be paid with or out of state funds.”
Because my post was also related to misuse of state funds, after reading it Senator Weinberg asked me to come to Trenton to testify in support of S-2949, which I was glad to do.
I was thrilled to sit next to Senator Weinberg at the table where I had the opportunity to relate the contents of my post to Senator Whelan and his committee. The Democrats (Whelan, Turner, Barnes) were astounded to learn that state money and labor went toward Christie’s political announcement.
The only Republican on the committee, Senator Sam Thompson, tried to deflect the issue by pointing out that Jon Corzine held out-of-state political events, too. He also alleged that it would be difficult to distinguish between political events and legitimate state business. He cited the case where the governor might go to another state on a trade mission (which is certainly state business) and then hold a political fundraiser there in the evening.
Of course, Senator Thompson’s argument is specious. Jon Corzine has not been governor since January 2010, and if this bill were in place during his administration, it would have applied to him, too. If passed, it will also apply to the next governor, regardless of which party occupies Drumthwacket.
Thompson’s argument about mixing political and state business on a single trip is just as disingenuous. It’s easy to split the expenses in proportion to the amount of time spent on each activity, and have the political organization pay only for the political portion of the trip.
In the end, the bill was reported out of committee, with all the Democrats in favor and Thompson abstaining. A companion bill will be introduced in the Assembly by Joe Lagana.
If and when the bill passes, it is most certainly going to be vetoed by Governor Christie and there are enough Republican apparatchiks to sustain the veto.
So the governor will continue to spend your money on his political ambitions.