Thank You for Your Contribution to Christie’s Presidential Campaign

When Chris Christie decided to formally announce he was running for President, the venue was his old high school in Livingston. I became curious as to how the school district was to be reimbursed for the expenses it incurred in hosting that event. So I submitted a request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to find out. I wanted to make sure the school district was not providing its facilities at no charge to a presidential campaign.  

Much to my surprise, the facility was NOT rented by the Christie for President organization, but rather by the Office of the Governor. Jim Gilroy, who is listed on state databases as “Aide to the Governor”, executed the contract. The school district quoted a price of $2,992. You, the taxpayer paid for this, whether or not you are a Chris Christie for President supporter.

Of course, your cost was far more. The security, aides, communications, and other ancillary expenses that go with a governor running for public office may be unavoidable. But shouldn’t the campaign have paid for the facility?

 OPRA Response

Comments (5)

  1. vmars

    As US Attorney Christie regularly used his public office for partisan political actions.  Here’s when Christie used his PR staff and official title to advance a partisan attack Democrats for engaging in the legal act of Senatorial Courtesy because it delayed a friend’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

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  2. robosz

    Usually a campaign team has to pay ad agencies and production companies to stage and shoot a bunch of faux events where the candidate glad-hands people with smiling earnest faces as they look glowingly upon the candidate. NJ’s Governor and his team have been shooting that campaign movie for five years now, funded generously by the taxpayers of both parties and everyone else who pays taxes.

    I’m curious — does the Christie for President organization have to purchase the Town Hall footage from the Office of the Governor media production archive in order to make their commercials? Who owns that footage? Who owns the copyright?

    Was the entire Town Hall scheme just a convenient way to build a highlights reel on the State government dime? Were those five years of video highlights filmed by state employees? If so, are those employees now complicit in having participated in working for a campaign?

    I’d be interested to find out how Gov Christie’s yearly budget for media relations personnel and spending compares to the media budgets of past NJ Governors. I also wonder how his Office of the Gov line item has fared over the years in comparison the line items of other state agencies and departments, … again in terms of salaries and spending budget. My bet is the Office of the Gov and its communications/media branch is one State government department that did not share in the sacrifice, suffer attrition, or do more with less.  

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  3. deciminyan (Post author)

    Jim Gilroy, who was involved in the contract for the Christie for President venue, earned over $94,000 last year. It seems that he worked on this contract under the auspices of his state position. Is it legal for a state employee to engage in political operations while being paid with taxpayer money? If not, should Mr. Gilroy be prosecuted?

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  4. deciminyan (Post author)

    Jim Gilroy, the man who apparently arranged for the Christie for President announcement venue, received a 25% raise in 2014. Maybe he deserves it. But I know a whole slew of schoolteachers who deserve a similar raise and didn’t get one.

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