Tag Archive: pac

News Roundup & Open Thread for Feb. 19-20, 2011

Jeff Gardner for Senate

  • Charlie Stile: Passaic Democratic Chair John Currie’s support could swing to veteran (Girgenti) or newbie (Gardner) in 35th.  

    Gov. Chris Christie: The Biggest Sham In American Politics

  • Bill Scher, writing for in Huffington Post, saw a lot of crap in Govy’s ‘Big Things’ ‘Big Washington Rollout’ speech at AEI.
  • FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) analyzes Christie’s AEI speech and Washington Post’s fawning coverage of it.
  • Americans for Prosperity director (and Christie primary opponent) Steve Lonegan isn’t impressed with Christie either, which earns him the name backyard backstabber by POLITICO.  
  • Christie: Peel back the fake Ronald Reagan mask … and get Richard Nixon

    Chris Christie’s inner circle is going Richard Nixon’s slush fund one better by openly alerting contributors they can they can circumvent rules designed to clean up state campaigns by writing big checks to Reform Jersey Now – in “unlimited amounts,” according to a flier obtained by Star Ledger. Christie’s headlining – as “special guest” – events populated with GOP high-donors, encouraged to deftly sidestep campaign finance limits Christie’s advocated, according to fundraising solicitation Star-Ledger obtained:

    Reform Jersey Now contributions are not affected by the pay-to-play statutes … or by applicable executive orders,” says the solicitation, which sheds new light on Christie’s involvement with the group. Pay-to-play rules limit the amount of money that can be donated by those who get state contracts.

    RJN’s touts itself as an “independent New Jersey non-profit,”  but its website reads like an advertorial for Chris Christie. Radio ads (paid by RJN) urging listeners hit up legislators to urge Christie’s property tax cap. Dramatically-titled video clips of the governor’s “Town Halls” before carefully filtered audiences. A big, red contribute button. It’s unclear to me why a governor mowing down everybody in his path needs a secretly-financed public relations arm when he clearly has zero problem making himself understood all by himself. But if RJN is doing more than that, we don’t know. Spending is likewise cloaked. And it looks like serious money.

    Spokestributor Mike DuHaime, strategist for McCain-Palin and Christie’s own election, told a reporter not everybody pays their $25,000 event ticket price, but he didn’t offer much math beyond that. He says they’re “playing by the rules as they exist”.

    This may not be law-breaking. And this slush fund isn’t exactly the same as what brought Richard Nixon down. But it’s an obvious ethical black hole.

    Christie, like Nixon, is a megalomaniac. And he surrounds himself, like Nixon, with a secretive cabal of loyalists willing to help him concentrate power because they … believe. And since the day of Nixon’s unraveling schemes, this kind of deal raises red flags. We don’t know if all this opacity is concealing wrongdoing. But Christie isn’t doing much to reassure that directing buddies to create a slush fund isn’t hypocritical, corrupt or a plan to avoid accountability.

    And, after all, this is Christie, who already has plenty of transparency problems, history of questionable financial dealings, and a remarkable tendency to try and skirt responsibility. Wisniewski’s right to call this a “shadow campaign arm.”

    DuHaime said RJN would “fully disclose” information on its donors – but not on its expenses – by the end of the year (read: after they’re done). RJN is a 501(c)(4); it’s not required by law to disclose donors, or follow NJ’s pay-to-play laws. If they registered as a NJ PAC, donations would have a $7,200 annual ceiling, with a $25,000 maximum donation to the GOP, and donations would be reported.  

    Wisniewski demands donor list from Christie Slush Fund

    Governor Christie started his morning yesterday at a special breakfast:

    Gov. Chris Christie was the featured speaker Tuesday at a New York City breakfast event sponsored by Reform Jersey Now, a non-profit advocacy group that features two former Republican governors on its board.

    The event was held at the New York Health and Racquet Club and was organized by billionaire Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot.

    Assemblyman Wisniewski slammed the Governor for his attendance contrasting it with his veto which gave many in the audience a tax cut:

    “No wonder Governor Christie vetoed the millionaires’ tax and his Republican colleagues refused to override it.  He was planning a breakfast with his millionaire friends and couldn’t look them in the face. He needs their millions of dollars of unregulated and unreported campaign contributions “

    I don’t think that’s exactly why he vetoed it, but I’m sure it made for a more friendly atmosphere in the room. The problem with this group isn’t the tax cut, it’s that it’s a “Friends of Christie” front group formed in a way to shield accountability:

    Reform Jersey Now is a 501 (c)(4) non-profit that has so far run two radio ads in favor of Christie’s cap plan.  The group counts among its board members former Republican Governors Christie Whitman and Donald DiFrancesco.  Long-time Christie friend and advisor Bill Palatucci is also a member of the advisory board as is former U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson.

    They set it up as a non-profit intentionally because while goals of affecting policy may be the same as other political PAC’s, they’re not bound by any financial disclosure rules, making their list of donors virtually inaccessible. They’ve promised to provide full transparency…. eventually, which isn’t good enough for Wisniewski:

    Governor Christie’s ability to ignore campaign promises and side step regulations is neither surprising nor new for him. We must ‘reform’ Reform Jersey Now and ensure that in the future, politically motivated ultra right wing organizations are not involved in making our state’s policies.

    I call on Reform Jersey Now to release all of its donors now, not eventually.

    Here we are, once again, with Christie doing secret deals. Now those rich friends of his who get contracts through “advisory” boards not subject to public information requests can pay Christie with a kickback to his slush fund that guess what, doesn’t disclose donors. It takes a former US Attorney to come up with such a devious scheme.

    What’s Left In The Tank?

    On NPR this morning they had a report on leadership PACs of retiring members of Congress and how many retirees use them as slush funds.  So I decided to look into our two retirees (so far), Jim Saxton (NJ3) and Mike Ferguson (NJ7).

    Jim Saxton has SAXPAC, which has been closed down with $0 cash on hand after expenditures of $13,000 fro legal fees (anyone know what that’s about?), $8,000 to a election compliance specialist (was there an issue that might deal with lawyers and election compliance?), $5,000 to Chris Meyers and $5,000 to Duncan Hunter’s run for President.  Really.

    Ferguson is a little harder to write out, but we’ll try.  His Mike PAC is still open, but only has about $1800 left after a little less than $95,000 in expenditures since the last election.  He’s got a lot of $1,000 contributions to local campaigns and out-of-state members of Congress, with only Chris Smith seeing any House money in state.

    $20,000 went to the Somerset Republicans, $8500 to the Hunterdon Republicans, and $1,000 to Union County.

    On the other hand, Saxton has over a million dollars in the bank and Fergie has about $250,000.

    So there’s a lot of money in the campaign war chests even if the PACs are dead.  I wonder if they’ll use them for anything.

    Carol Gay in the running for a major campaign infusion!

    Gov. Mark Warner’s PAC, Forward Together is giving a $5,ooo campaign contribution to the top-5 vote-getters on his PAC’s website which noted the following:

    The 2006 elections will be an opportunity for Democrats. For the first time in many years, Democrats have a strong chance to win majorities in both houses of Congress. Forward Together PAC has already contributed to more than 50 campaigns in more than 30 states. Now we are opening up the process.

    You can help us choose the next group of candidates we’ll support. We are looking for fresh faces with fresh ideas – and for solutions-oriented Democrats with a focus on the future – candidates who will help us change the political map. Which candidates are you supporting?

    Our very own Carol Gay is a good bet to score the prize as she easily moved into the second round of voting today! But she can use our help getting the 5K.  Can Blue Jersey readers please show Carol some love and ensure Carol gets the cash?

    A vote for NJ-4 is a vote for the hometeam.  And likewise a win in NJ-4 would be huge for the state and the nation.  So go vote for Carol now! (Please!)

    Incidently, the candiate who turns out he most votes overall gets a fundraiser hosted by Governor Warner himself.  Presumably that would make 5,ooo bucks look like chump change.